BIPOLAR STAR BLOG

  • Therapy Not Good Enough for (Commissioner) Reagan

    Tom Selleck’s favorite episode of Blue Bloods so far is “The Job” (Season 2, Episode 12). Among the various story lines (each main character alway...
  • Red Flag Laws Can Save Lives

    Update: Since this was posted, the Highland Park Fourth of July parade shooting has occurred, killing seven and wounding dozens others. Illinois has a red flag law. Why did it fail? The police had one minor run-in with the suspect apparently, and it didn't involve any violence. Family members claim not to have seen any warning signs either. But the suspect's social media postings were prolific and disturbing. Those who saw them they clearly didn't follow the adage "see something, say something." Since the Uvalde shooting, Congress has passed legislation to incentivize states to pass red flag laws. The Highland Park shooting confirms what's in this post -- that red flag laws, though potentially helpful, are not a panacea and will not end gun violence.
  • There Aren't Enough Months in the Year!

    If you didn’t know, we just closed out Mental Illness Awareness Month (May). The theme was “Back to Basics,” which stresses fundamental knowledge about mental illness. For sufferers of bipolar and other disorders, every month is mental illness month, and every month is another survived — if they’re lucky.

    You might not have been aware of this month, which means it failed at its purpose of raising your awareness. It was, after all, Foster Care Awareness Month. It was also Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month, Maternal Mental Health Month, and National Teen Self-Esteem Month. 

  • Falling Through the Cracks

    Hit and run medicine. The term is often used to describe a surgeon who performs several surgeries in a day. An example would be an eye doctor doing dozens of cataract operations a day. But our overcrowded and overburdened system also treats psychiatric patients like an assembly line. 

    Psychiatric malpractice is tough to prove.  Failing to monitor medications properly is malpractice, but it’s not as obvious as a plastic surgeon horribly disfiguring a patient.  Many psychiatric patients don’t have the wherewithal or the resources to sue. Lawyers will take on the plastic surgery case on a contingency fee basis. But not for psychiatric malpractice.

  • Media Mogul, "Mouth of the South," and Philanthropist

    Ted Turner is on every list of famous people with bipolar disorder.  It’s good to have someone as wildly successful as he on the list. Turner’s achievements are many, but his best known one is the 24 hour news channel. It was revolutionary for sure, a commercial success in spite of what conventional wisdom predicted. It may be at least somewhat responsible for our political polarization however. It’s not easy to fill 24 hours with news, so the news networks fill it with commentary. Fox with largely conservative commentary, MSNBC with largely liberal commentary. Turner’s CNN tends to be liberal. Turner himself has supported liberal causes and has feuded with conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
  • JFK's Low Grade Mania

    President Kennedy himself was not without mental issues. It would seem he was hyperthymic, as was possibly FDR and Dr. King. That is to say, he lived with a low grade but constant form of mania.

    Hyperthymia is either a mental illness or a personality trait. It’s not in the Diagnostic Manual, and some doctors deny its existence. It falls on the bipolar spectrum not too far from its opposite depressive version, dysthymia. People with hyperthymia can benefit greatly from it, but they’re also at risk for full-blown mania and for developing depression

  • Elvis Had Bipolar...and Many Other Things

    Elvis Presley was a serious germaphobe. But he helped the nation rid itself of polio by publicly receiving the vaccine. Just like many people didn’t trust the covid vaccine in 2021, they didn’t trust Salk’s polio vaccine in 1956.  

    According to ex-wife Priscilla, Elvis never liked to go to people's homes to eat because he didn't like eating with other people's silverware, so he would take his own silverware. And he didn't like drinking out of cups that other people had  drunk out of, even restaurants or other homes. So when he drank, he would drink where the handle was, knowing that no one would ever drink at that side. 

  • Interview with a Bipolar General -- Part II

    This is the second part of my interview with Major General Gregg Martin, U.S. Army (Ret.). Read below for General Martin's experience with electroshock treatment, lithium, and recovery. General Martin gives his opinion on bipolar in the military and in politics, as well as how to fight the stigma of mental illness.
  • Interview with a Bipolar General -- Part I

    Major General Gregg Martin, U.S. Army (Ret.) has bipolar disorder. For decades, low level mania helped him achieve an amazing career. West Point. Airborne Rangers. MIT. Two master’s degrees and a doctorate. Two more master’s degrees. Bronze Star recipient. General Martin identifies the Iraq War as the event that triggered acute mania. By 2014, while Martin was serving as president of the National Defense University, it was out of control. His boss, Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey,  asked for his resignation and ordered him to get treatment. I had the honor of speaking with General Martin about his forthcoming book, his career, and his bipolar illness. This is part I of that interview.
  • Churchill: Manic Production and the Black Dog

    For all the talk of those with bipolar disorder having shorter lives, Churchill lived to age 90.  And that despite being overweight and drinking and smoking to excess.  Those with bipolar disorder are known for their tremendous output.  Churchill wrote an astonishing 73 volumes of books as well as numerous articles and speeches.  He wrote all of his speeches.  He wouldn’t consider having a speechwriter or a ghostwriter. 
  • Beethoven: Manic Musician

    “Beethoven churned out masterpieces with all the frenzy of a cokehead.” Joe Oliveto

    Ludwig van Beethoven was a German classical composer of the early 1800s. He was born in 1770 and developed his talents early, but he produced most of  his great works after 1800. 

    Beethoven’s upbringing was difficult. His father was an unsuccessful musician and abusive alcoholic. His mother suffered from depression. At a young age, Beethoven had to support his family with his music. 

  • Mental Illness Is Not a Weakness

    Tony Soprano: "Let me tell ya something. Nowadays, everybody’s gotta go to shrinks, and counselors, and go on Sally Jessy Raphael and talk about their problems. What happened to Gary Cooper? The strong, silent type. That was an American. He wasn’t in touch with his feelings. He just did what he had to do."