Friday, August 20, 2004

Jane is Bi? Gone Polar too? sheez.

None of this is meant to be a critique of mental illness as a whole.

Looks like Jane Pauley has decided to come clean with her "disease": Bipolar disorder. Awesome. Looks like we got another one. Anyone else see this the same way they see ADD/ADHD/AOADD what-the-fuck-ever? A bunch of hooey? Not that there aren't any legitimate cases. The statistics are all over the board, and no one can honestly rule out the possibility that there are personality "defects" (moodiness, daredevil tendencies, suicidal thoughts, difficulty concentrating sometimes, etc) which can be measured as existing in varying degrees between humans, thereby giving way to the theory that some individuals may be "overcome" by the magnitude of their "defect" and may require treatment for it.

But come on. Let's be reasonable with how relaxed the definitions are allowed to get. A 7-year old child that cannot seem to sit still, tends to endanger themselves (maybe others), has no discernable control over their immediate mood, exhibits emotional mania, and refuses to follow directions... sounds like your garden variety 7-year old to me. They're just trying everything out, pushing boundaries, and breaking everything to figure out how it ticks. Destructive: yes. Disturbed: no. Just like puppies, it is usually the quiet and well-behaved ones that have issues (or are soon to parish). The obnoxious ones who refuse to fall in line, recognize order, or control themselves in public are the ones who survive and prosper. Seems like the use of drugs like Lithium and Prozac (most mood stabilizers, or even stimulants) are the result of parental laziness above anything else. Don't get me wrong, I'm lazy too, and I'm not even a parent. Hell, I understand. Ever try to corral a 9-year old at a busy mall, ten minutes after they inhaled a triple banana split? I wanted a tranquilizer gun, full sedation formula, hair trigger, and quick release. And a really strong net.

But that wasn't the child's fault. My desire to drug the kid into a mold that I could handle was the result of my laziness. In the face of judgment in society, I didn't want to "deal" with or be wholly responsible for a being who has no concept of:

Mortality (kids play in full dumpsters)
Social grace (kids eat their boogers at napkined restaurants)
Shame (children will pick their butts and pee themselves)
Lewd behavior(s) (all children strive to be naked in public)
Rule of law (shoplifting, reckless behavior, and arson are kid-acceptable)

So, to curtail my responsibility (and thus my risk of running into any extraneous trouble) I would consider drugging the kid into a pliable zombie. Then put them on a leash. Inside a crate. In a basement somewhere (preferably not at my crib). That way, there's no risk, and I can lazily continue to do my worthless bit of parenting with no effort whatsoever.

Ten years later, I'll be wondering why: my teenager already has kids of their own, hasn't talked to me since being paroled, and had a limb chopped off because getting their privates pierced "wouldn't make [them] feel alive enough."

Maybe it is just me, but the diagnosis of what I would hope is a very complex disorder seems to happen too often, and too quickly. I would not surprise me to learn that the pharm companies that bank on the distribution of mood enhancers, stabilizers, and stimulants back a majority of the muddled research.

To anyone who honestly believes that they have the following personality "defects", you are not alone. Here is a quick rundown of several "indicators" or "symptoms" used to mark Bipolar and/or ADHD.

1. Hyperenergetic (too much sugar)
2. Distractibility (too much sugar)
3. Grandiosity (you haven't failed enough to humble, but you will)
4. Elated Mood (everyone gets happy every now and again)
5. Daredevil Acts (risk is inherent in everything)
6. Flight of ideas (everyone has ambitions, and then thinks better of it)
7. Racing thoughts (welcome to the post-Nintendo era)
8. Hypersexuality (Procreation is our most obvious purpose in life)
9. Decreased need for sleep (common sign of aging)
10. Suicidal thoughts (everyone gets down every now and again)
11. Suicidal thoughts WITH plan (this is indicative or symptomatic of nothing other than being suicidal, if you ask me)

I hope my comments make my opinion clear, because I cannot really think of a better way to state the obvious.

So. Jane is Bipolar, according to herself and her psychiatrist. She's on Lithium now. If she was feeling bad before, and this diagnosis and subsequent treatment have made her feel better, then that is fantastic (cure by placebo is just as valid to the patient, as long as it cures). Good for her, or whoever owns that patent. But I shall remain skeptical of the hype.

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