Monday, July 22, 2013

Celebrities with Bipolar Disorder

For those of us who are bipolar, recognizing how successful bipolar people can be may help us build self-confidence. Among well known people who have been identified publicly as bipolar are —

Activists Abbie Hoffman, Jesse Jackson Jr., Patrick Kennedy.


Artist Vincent van Gogh


Astronaut Colonel Buzz Aldrin, Ph.D.


Moguls Andrew Carnegie, Larry Flint, Pierre Peladeau, Martha Stewart, Ted Turner.


Performers Dick Cavett, Kurt Cobain, Robert Downey Jr., Eminem, Carrie Fisher, Stephen Fry, Peter Brian Gabriel, Linda Hamilton, Mariette Hartley, Margaux Hemingway, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Martin, Kristy McNichols, Sinéad O'Connor, Ozzy Osbourne, Jane Pauley, Axl Rose, James Taylor, Brian Wilson, Charley Frank Pride, Sting, Jean Claude Van Damme, Robin Williams, Catherine Zeta Jones.


Politicians Winston Churchill, Kitty Dukakis (politician's wife), Abraham Lincoln.


Health professionals Nassir Ghaemi, Kay Redfield Jamison.


Writers Robert Boorstin, Kay Sylvia Plath, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf.

In addition, Cameron Herhold, Founder of BackPocket COO in Vancouver, British Columbia, told CBS News in 2010 that, "It took me a while to recognize that symptoms of bipolar disorder are fairly common among entrepreneurs."

The 4.5 to 5.5 million Americans who have been diagnosed as bipolar are probably only about 20 percent of the bipolar population in this country. We have no way of identifying members of the other 80 percent who may be well known for their achievements.

In stark contrast and on the dark side, we bipolar people are drawn to, and successful at, suicide, in larger numbers than the general population. Suicide is the leading cause of premature death for us. While medication cannot cure bipolar disorder, it can prevent suicide in some bipolar people. Ideally, medication will eventually lower the suicide rate of bipolar people, at least to the national average.

Because bipolar disorder has an impact on appetite, judgment, memory, mood, sex sleep, and thinking, building a successful life and career without medication can be more of a challenge than some people can face. 

Even when a bipolar person is successful, the price may be terrible suffering and the success may arrive post mortem. Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) was probably bipolar. He apparently committed suicide although the gun that killed him was never found. At the time, he was convinced that he was a failure. Now there are Van Gogh museums in Amsterdam and Paris.

With more medications available today for treating bipolar disorder than ever before, this may be the best time ever to be bipolar. Not that bipolarity is a blessing, but it need not be a curse, either. Appropriate bipolar meds may not only minimize the down side of the disorder but also strengthen our ability to put our gifts to work for us and others.

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