Drink Drugs Mental Illness

I waited on line in Rite Aid as the cashier rang up two magazines and an 85 percent cacao dark chocolate bar.

The woman after me took one look at the Daily News cover on the kiosk and loudly denounced Robin Williams: “Stupid, stupid, he was stupid.”

“He had a mental illness,” I shouted back. “He was troubled.”

“Stupid, stupid, he was stupid,” she continued to judge Williams in the guise of stating a fact.

Drink Drugs and Mental Illness is an all too common scenario when a person doesn’t get the right treatment right away. Fifty-six percent of the people diagnosed with bipolar have a co-occurring drug addiction according to statistics.

Reputable individuals think Robin Williams had bipolar all his adult life. News accounts of his stand-up comedy routines described his delivery as “manic” and it’s quite possible he was manic, he was depressed, he was manic, he was depressed all his adult life and treated this undiagnosed illness with cocaine.

I find it incredible the ongoing stigma in society that goes on at the hands of a person like the woman in Rite Aid.

I do not recommend indiscriminate disclosure of your mental illness.

I recommend keeping your boundaries and telling only those people who have earned the right to be privy to your hardship.

The sad truth is that if Robin Williams got help early on his brilliance as an actor and comedian might have burned brighter than even it did during his lifetime. His success might have been stratospheric and more so than it already was.

Talent should not be a trade-off with illness. I have no illusions that I would be an even better writer and a more gifted artist if I didn’t take medication.

More likely, if I didn’t get help right away, I might not be alive today or I might not have a life worth living. I definitely would not be able to dead-lift 175 lb. at the gym.

The news accounts that two individuals with depression wrote played into the media’s hand of not encouraging individuals with a mental illness to get the medication that can save their lives. The two accounts didn’t mention that taking medication could help a person thrive, help a person win the game of life.

None of the first-person accounts of depression listed agencies or resources or the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Hotline 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255). They glossed over specific treatment options, didn’t talk about effective medications, and had the usual romantic view of living with symptoms instead of taking medication.

The usual no-medication-at-any-time stance was parroted. The usual living-with-symptoms-is-better-than-taking-medication platform that the media allows would-be writers parading as legitimate journalists to advance.

Robin Williams was in hell. Numerous friends and other people I know lived in hell until they found the pharm that took away the depression, that gave them a life worth living.

Individuals like these don’t tell their stories because of the stigma. The media gives a platform to the individuals who don’t take medication. The media refuses to advance accounts of people that recovered and are in remission because of Big Pharma.

I tell my story out loud and I’m proud I’ve been in remission over 22 years because of the medication. The Geodon has been a miracle drug.

My heart goes out to Robin Williams’ family and to his loyal fans. Williams was a true original.

He might still be alive if he got the right help right away.

I’d rather be a humble librarian who lives without symptoms than an SZ celebrity with a J.D. from Yale who has ongoing major episodes.

There you go: I’ve stated this publicly.

We need to re-think how the media discusses mental illness. We need to dispel the myth that mental illness gives a person brilliant gifts.

In reality: I’ll take dead-lifting 175 lb. over living above a subway grate any day. As gifted an artist and writer as I am, I know my gifts come at a cost.

Brilliance isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

Mental illness is often a burden not a “dangerous gift.”

It’s not a pretty box tied with a bow you want to open up and live with the rest of your lives.

It’s cruel, and for people who don’t get the right help, there’s no way out.

Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and athlete.

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