Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, people I hadn’t heard of near the start, people I have heard of below them, and arty stuff at the end. Not all of the links are fresh, but they are all cool (at just the right temperature). Irreverent and frequently irrelevant commentary by me sprinkled all the way through.
A looong and winding post … and for something curated and waffled by me, quite cheerful too.
A short list of links with varying degrees of relevance, from ‘scraping the barrel’ to ‘zomg genius’, and a title that is unnecessarily almost longer than the list itself:
West African: We talk about mental illness the way whites talk about Africa – Doc Ayomide
South African: Mortified! I know the owners of this site, which has a review with a stupid title. Okay, ‘mortified’ is too strong a word, but I felt like using it. Only bipolar people can say bipolar coaster, mkay?
USA: Charles Hamilton talks overcoming depression and bipolar disorder.
UK: Another link which has nothing directly to do with bipolar disorder, you might enjoy this cover of Mad World by Bipolar Sunshine and Jazz Purple.
UK: What was the truth about the madness of King George iii? – speculation about whether he suffered porphyria or bipolar.
Gratuitous and euw sidenote: a friend was once tested for porphyria – she had to um .. go to the bathroom with the lights off and a thick black plastic bag, and give a stool sample. True story.
Quotes with links and a terse title:
“To Hell with the stigma of mental illness! In the words of John Lennon, I am “crippled inside,” and to hide that fact is to do me harm. It’s not for me to be ashamed for being mentally ill. It’s for you to be ashamed if you pass on the street someone made homeless by mental illness and do not feel outrage at the collective failure.”
“I am frequently shocked at how ignorant the general population is when it comes to mental health issues. Someone once told me that I should be able to talk my way out of being bipolar. I suppose I could cure cancer by kissing the Blarney Stone.”
Nicholas O’Mahony Out of the Mental Health Closet (also available as audio)
How the suffering f… would anyone even attempt to ‘talk their way out of bipolar’? I don’t even understand the notion. Help.
Beyond the revoltingly unjust stigma around mental/neurobiological illness, I think that we (the collective we, society as an amorphous whole) are stuck in the evolutionary concept of survival of the fittest. Just a thought.
“When an illness becomes fashionable, something is very wrong. Bipolar disorder is now so well known that were it a celebrity it would have its own chat show.”
My imagination kicked in.
Good evening, I’m Bipolar Disorder, but you can call me Bastard. Welcome to my new chat show, we have FABULOUS (yet tormented) guests and INCREDIBLE sideshow attractions *holds earpiece closer, inclines head slightly and nods* I mean side effects. Call 0800-HELP-ME at the end of the show to stand a chance of winning a lifetime’s supply of meds that could kill your skin, your liver and your love life, with absolutely NO GUARANTEE of doing any good at all! And now please join me in welcoming my first guest, the artist formerly known as something else, but currently languishing in the deep despair of a depressive episode, ladieeeeez and gentlemen I give you – VINCENT VAN GOTH!!!11!!!!!1! *canned applause for depressed audience, real applause by the manic ones*
(van Goth is def not an original idea of mine. Damn.)
“You know I live every day with these symptoms, paranoia, hallucinations – both auditory and visual – manic highs from bipolar disorder and depressive lows and panic attacks. And that’s okay, I’m alive.”
Kevin Hines – Story of an Unlikely Survival
I assume that the key to his saying “it’s okay,” is his faith, as well as the value placed on survival? Respect to him for it, because he survived a jump from the Golden Gate Bridge as a teenager.
“For a long time I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was difficult to be with, I was a complete a**e a lot of the time. God knows how the other boys put up with me. I’d never heard of bipolar, but when I was at my lowest I read an article about it and cried because I knew that was me.”
Tom Fletcher (of boyband McFly) – Battle with Mental Illness | YouTube
Throughout her possession by that uncannily evil monster, manic depression, with its deadly ever-tightening spirals, she retained her own individual canniness – an ability to disguise her true mental condition from almost all except me, for whom she could hardly be expected to take the trouble.
Laurence Olivier on Vivien Leigh
I am trying so hard not to make a Scarlett O’Hara/Blanche DuBois/bipolar joke. I googled and found a couple of negative comparisons though.
“… Vivien was more [like] Blanche herself. She had a more tenuous relationship with reality.”
“Vivien didn’t have to be polite, or even civil; after all, she was Scarlett O’Hara.”
Karl Malden on Vivien Leigh
“I’ve survived. I’ve beaten my own bad system, and on some days, on most days, that feels like a miracle.”
Patty Duke – Working a Miracle (an article all the way from 1992)
I only found out fairly recently that Patty Duke is
Samwise Gamgee Sean Astin’s mother.
PATTY DUKE, MACKENZIE & SEAN ASTIN on “20/20” 2004 (YouTube)
Florence heard voices and experienced a number of severe depressive episodes in her teens and early 20s – symptoms consistent with the onset of bipolar disorder.
Kathy Wisner on Florence Nightingale
The next quote is from a discussion that refers to retrospective diagnosis as ‘bigotry’ further along. Is the speculation that she may have suffered brucellosis bigotry too, one wonders … *sigh* Of course not. Physical illness – no problem,
mental neurobiological illness and people are getting offended on behalf of a dead person. I’m not suggested that anyone ought to be thrilled by any sort of diagnosis, but stirring up stigma and making others feel shit about it is nasty and unnecessary.
… historian Dr. Lesley Hall – note Wellcome affiliation – describes retrospective diagnosis as “a parlor game.” If so, it is a game in the sense that throwing Christians to the lions was a game in the Roman coliseum. In this case, the victims are persons suspected of having disabilities.
A New Christian Martyr? Diagnosis as a Game
A prayer to the book pirates: Arrr pirates, who art in oceans … okay okay, perhaps that could be read as blasphemy idk. Anyway! I really, really, really want to read this book and if I get my sticky virtual paws on a digital version, I shall review the hell out of it.
“I curse the stupid course that my trail has followed,” he wrote, exhausted. “I cannot feel the meaning of it. I am lost.” Dr Perry Baird
He Wanted the Moon – Mimi Baird
And from the woman responsible for some of the finest and most lyrical books ever …
“My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery – always buzzing, humming, soaring roaring diving, and then buried in mud. And why? What’s this passion for?”
Virginia Woolf and Her Madness
And this wonderful, though ultimately sad anecdote …
“A telegram arrived at the HMS Dreadnought, the flagship of the British home fleet, advising the Admiral of a visit by the Emperor of Abyssinia and four of his entourage. The dignitaries were given the red carpet treatment and the visit went off without a hitch, except for the fact that the real Emperor happened to be back in Addis Ababa. One of the “Abyssinians”, decked out in flowing robes and dark greasepaint, turned out to be a youthful Virginia Woolf.” John McManamy
And this wonderful thing too …
According to Dally, who is a psychiatrist: “Virginia’s need to write was, among other things, to make sense out of mental chaos and gain control of madness. Through her novels she made her inner world less frightening. Writing was often agony but it provided the ‘strongest pleasure’ she knew.”
My absolutely second most favourite artist in the whole wide world and one of the most beautiful women (all of her life) that ever lived:
“One day seven years ago I found myself saying to myself — I can’t live where I want to — I can’t go where I want to go–I can’t do what I want to — I can’t even say what I want to –….I decided I was a very stupid fool not to at least paint as I wanted to.”
“In the art world, there’s an idea that only artists who suffer can produce great art. These days it’s often presented as a correlation between mental illness and creativity, wherein mental illness is the price artists have to pay for what they do. It’s not true and the idea is actively harmful to artists. O’Keeffe was mentally ill*, but the result of her illness was not anything creative. The experience did not contribute to her art or lead her to new insights. It stymied her for a freaking year. The reality of the art world is that most artists produce their best work when they’re healthy, not when they’re sick.”
* usually referred to as a nervous breakdown or psychoneurosis, her hospitalisation and temporary inability may have been depression due to factors such as her husband’s alleged affair.
More arty links:
Lynn Taetsch – Being a contemporary artist with bipolar disorder.
10 great painters who were mentally disturbed. Mentally disturbed? Describe me that way and I’ll fuck you up seven ways till Sunday, you disrespectful oik. If that sentence doesn’t demonstrate my British background, nothing ever will.
Are creativity and mental illness linked – not a new topic, but an engaging read nonetheless.