Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mariette Hartley- Actress/ Advocate (Co-founder of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)

Mariette Hartley’s film career started in 1962 with a leading role in the film Ride the High Country. During her long acting career she has performed in almost every venue. She won an Emmy for her appearance in a 1978 version of The Incredible Hulk (Who doesn’t love The Hulk? I mean hello, he’s a Big Green Monster like person, who is bad/good. Of course she’s going to win an award in that movie. Duh!) Her versatile performance allowed her to play a variety of roles, including the famous “you can’t show your belly button on TV” part in the episode of the original Star Trek. (Again who doesn’t love Star Trek?) Mariette was diagnosed with severe depression in 1994 while experiencing a suicidal episode. The prescribed antidepressants sent her into mania. (Antidepressant’s can cause a bipolar person to “switch” bringing on a manic or hypo manic phase. Needless to say it is used with much caution for a person with Bp, but mostly is an avoided medication for.) That, she says was when she realized something else must be going on. She was first diagnosed with ADD, before finally being diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. (That is a common mistake, because, many of the symptoms are almost identical). In 1987she co-founded the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. (An excellent foundation that really helps people, I would sincerely recommend it if you’re having suicidal thoughts, of course going to your doctor would be the best option.) Her father had already committed suicide in 1963, and her mother attempted suicide shortly after. She also lost another bipolar family member to suicide, her uncle. In an interview with USA Today she said something that I believe in with every fiber in my being. (And I have a lot of fiber in me; shockingly I’m not just full of hot air) In a final quote she said “ If you are on the right medication now, for God’s sake stay on it and don’t change, but if it doesn’t seem to be working, then go to a doctor and find the right one for you”. For God’s sake take her advice.

Rosemary Clooney- Singer/ Actress (George Clooney’s Aunt)

Rosemary Clooney was a gifted singer whose career was disrupted midstream by bipolar disorder. She and her sister Betty were living in poverty when they won a contest and earned a regular job singing on the radio. They went from collecting soda bottles and using the refund money to buy lunch at school to getting paid 20$ a week each to sing on the radio. (That is what I call a lucky break) They became known as “The Clooney Sisters”. In 1951 she recorded “Come on-a My House,” a song she hated. Ironically it made her a star. The album became a gold record. She played in several films, but none as popular as White Christmas. The film became the top grosser of 1954. (Put simply, made more money over the entire year than every other movie put out that year. That’s a lot of money! She must have been rolling in dough by then!) She eloped in 1953 and married an Oscar winning actor. and between 1955 and 1960 they had five children! (That automatically makes her a super mom, and worthy of the ever so popular mini van. No offense to mini van lovers, my mom has one too.) The pressure of raising five children while pursuing careers as a television, movie, radio, and recording star, plus her failing marriage led her to self medicate on pain killers and tranquilizers. (As you can see from my other blogs self medication is in almost every bio of an undiagnosed person). For Clooney the world and her mental state plummeted when her close friend Bobby Kennedy was assassinated only yards away from her. (That obviously had to be traumatizing anyway)The tragedy along with her drug addiction triggered a public mental collapse. She cursed at her audience and then walked off stage; she later called a press conference to announce her retirement at which she sobbed uncontrollably. When she heard a doctor was being summoned she ran away, and was found driving on the wrong side of a mountain road. She was admitted to a hospital, where she was diagnosed bipolar and was in therapy for several years following. In 1977 she released an autobiography This for Remembrance, which describes her illness and trials. She wanted others to know that they’re not alone, and to be able to recognize some of their own symptoms so they don’t have to go through what she did! (Nobody should have to go through what she did) Throughout her career she recorded 25 albums, and received several awards. She died Saturday, June 29th, 2002 after a struggle with lung cancer. She was 74.

Charley Pride- First Famous Black Country Singer

Charley was born March 18, 1938. Charley taught himself how to play the guitar when he was 14. He wanted to be a baseball player, but he proved to be a better musician than athlete. (Neither of which I am. L Sigh!) After a trip to Nashville in 1965 and two demos he was offered a contract. His first single “The Snakes Crawl at Night” was an instant hit. (Way to go Charley!) On tour in Detroit the story is this; When Charley stepped on stage he was greeted with loud applause, which got lower and lower in volume until near silence as most of the audience began to make the realization that he was a black country singer. (This was when prejudice was everywhere, and there had never been a famous black country singer before) But Charley’s music overcame that and after the show he was bombarded with autograph seekers and the rest is history. Charley’s singles became instant hits, and he made a joke before shows about his “permanent tan” that became his trademark. In 1969 his album of his collection of singles shot the singer up to the coveted number one position of country music sales charts. Throughout his career he had 36#1 hits singles, over 35 million albums sold, 31gold and 4 platinum including one quadruple platinum. (That really makes you sit back and say, Wow, He’s unbelievably good!)He suffered from depression throughout his career, and didn’t start taking medicine until he was hospitalized in 1989. He stayed on medicine after that and was able to maintain a remarkable career. On RCA Records, Charley Pride is second in sales only to Elvis Presley. He preformed at the White House for President Clinton and his wife. He was inducted into the roster of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville--a high honor among country music traditionalists. Twenty-five years earlier, Pride had become the first African American singer to appear on the Opry stage. In the year 2000, he became the first African American member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. (That is what I call a role model!)

Axl Rose- (A.K.A.) Lead Singer 4 Guns n Roses

Axl Rose (real name Billy Bailey) was the poster boy for young teens with problems. By the age of 16 he was, as he said “A full fledged juvenile delinquent”. He was banned from his home and was in and out of jail. He changed his name after finding out the man who raised him was actually his step father. (If that’s not a trigger I don’t know what is!) Which is when he adopted the name Axl Rose (Rose was his biological father’s last name). He started the band Guns n Roses with his friend from school in 1985. (You gotta love the 80’s) Within a few years they had made a name for themselves. A few years later he was diagnosed with manic depressive, and eventually bipolar disorder. In an interview with Rolling Stone he said “I’m very sensitive and emotional and things upset me and make me feel like not functioning or dealing with people.” (Yup, that sounds about right) However, it has been said that he might not have Bp; some of his behavior could be explained through the rough life he’s had. There are also several other possible illnesses that could explain some of his symptoms instead of Bp. (There are a lot out there) Either way he has had a very rough childhood, which shows through some of his songs. (At least he got something out of it! Rock On!)

Maurice Bernard- Actor (General Hospital)

Maurice’s story is extremely similar to others who have Bp. He had problems since his adolescence, but had a major breakdown at 22, and was then diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He likes to box to ease his tension. He says “There’s nothing better than boxing!” I personally think there is one thing better than boxing….. Chocolate! (But that could just be me I don’t know.) He says the key to his stability is never missing his medication, which he says he’s been on for 15 years. (I whole heartedly agree) When asked about side effects he said “The only side effect is, if I don’t take it, I have a breakdown,” That is the one side affect every person with a mental illness automatically has, medication or not. He was recently interviewed and put on the cover of Bp magazine. (It really sends a message when a famous actor is not only willing to have his face plastered on a magazine that millions of people are going to see and recognize as him, but to also have his personal biography written for everyone to read and see.)

Carrie Fisher- Actress (Princess Leia)

Carrie Fisher was born in 1956 and is the daughter of two actors. She started show biz from an early age. It wasn’t until her role in Star Wars was she recognized nationally. Star Wars put the Star in her name. (Alright that might have been a little cheesy)But at the same time she was starting to cross over into the “Dark Side” and it wasn’t long until no force could help her. Who said princesses have an easy life? (Especially when your father is Darth Vader!) She was diagnosed as Bipolar, and after struggling with it for years and self medicating through drugs she was able to find some stability on proper medication. Now she is a speaker and advocate on the mental health circuit. That just goes to show you how easy it is to succumb to the dark side of the force, but how much better it is when you return. She says “Sobriety is the key to dealing with bipolar disorder.” (How much more true could that statement be? None) I especially like what she recommended to people with Bp. She said “Generally, if they are properly bipolar, it’s going to be really chaotic. The best way to do it would be to talk to someone who has the same illness. They’re not going to listen to someone who doesn’t have the disorder because you don’t have the same feelings.” That’s some of the best advice someone with Bp can get. I suggest you take it.

Patty Duke

Patty Duke is a famous actress, and author. Patty Duke was recognized as talented when she was 8, and started her movie career soon after. (I guess instead of reading Dr. Seuss she read movie scripts.) She has performed on Broadway, TV Series, and has appeared in 72 TV Movies. (Insert a cartoon mouth drop here :0) She received an Oscar at the age of 16, which made her the youngest person to receive one back then. Later she won two Golden Globes, three Emmys, six Emmy nominations, and a People Choice Award. (I bet her nickname was Emmy at one time) She wrote two best seller books on her struggle with mental illness. The first one was “Call Me Anna” (Which is her real name) her autobiography in which she publicly revealed her illness for the first time. The book was quickly made into a movie. She played a younger version of herself. (Who else could be that authentic?! I mean it was her life you know.)The second book is “A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic Depressive Illness”, (Manic Depressive is what they now call bipolar, but that was a while ago) which is a detailed account of her battle with Manic Depressive (Bp). She has a web site to explain to people, who have Bp that they will not lose their creativity, or change who they are if they take medication. She says she’s more creative now because she can organize a thought. (a lot of people think that taking meds for your problems will change who you are, but as someone who has Bp and knows what it’s like to take meds and not take meds, let me tell you right now; They Will NOT change who you are they will just help you be more stable, and healthy. I feel more like myself when I’m on meds, because I’m more stable then when I’m off them.) If you’re on the right medicine you will feel better, think better, and be better. If the medicine you’re on is what works for you then I guarantee you’ll like the person staring back at you in the mirror more. Your personality, your likes, and your dislikes stay the same the only thing that changes are your moods, which becomes more stable. It’s like the difference between choppy waves and calm waves, a dark sky and the sun shining. The waves and sky are the same as they were before just in a different state.

Famous People With BP

As I’ve mentioned before there are many famous people with BP. Some prefer to keep quiet others prefer to advocate. For the next couple of blogs I’m going to write about several famous people with BP that you might know. By doing this I’m hoping anyone who thinks they’re still alone in what they’re going through will realize they are far from alone, and there are many people going through the exact same things as you are, and some probably at the same time as you are.