Monday, March 7, 2011

Charlie Sheen syndrome

It's obvious to me, and probably to any of you who have dealt with bipolar disorder, that Mr. Sheen's drug and alcohol use are a side issue to what's currently on display in the media. He's a bipolar in the midst of a full blown manic episode.

It may be that drug and alcohol over-indulgence provide the bipolar individual with an easily recognizable, familiar scapegoat for how they're feeling and behaving. It provides an illusion of control, even when you're out of control. After all, you can take another drink or not; have another hit or not. It's something you do to yourself, as opposed to a chemical imbalance that you have no control over. Control is better.

Here are some insights into my own condition. Maybe you can recognize some of it.

I drank and used drugs to great excess for many years, but I was not addicted. I do have addictive tendencies in that I'm always over-indulging in something (currently, it's coffee). That's not to say that one can't be bipolar and an addict. I guess I just don't have the addict gene.

It took several episodes and many years before I acknowledged that in terms of awareness and intelligence, I was not on a higher plane, that mere mortals just didn't understand. I had a biological problem that was a real detriment to myself and those around me. It wasn't until the depressive episode that I finally decided I'd had enough (the mania seemed pretty cool from my vantage point, the depression very nearly killed me). I tried to hide the mania because I wanted to continue to explore it. It can seem quite productive and I thought I could learn to control it and put it to good use.

Sleep is huge. Bipolars should ensure that they get sleep every night. If that means taking sleep aids, take sleep aids. In addition to any treatment and/or drugs, it helps to engage in constant, logical, self-analysis, especially of one's emotional state. You can still have undue emotions like anxiety, fear, anger, depression, euphoria, but you can train yourself to question them and disregard them if appropriate. Easily said. Not easily done.

Sheen has a handicap in that he's got so much money to spend on his entourage. Those around him are likely to reinforce his notion that he's some kind of super-human that the rest of us "can't process". He'll come out of this episode at some point. Then I expect he'll start looking for ways to recreate that awesome euphoria. I don't know where it goes from there. I just hope nobody gets hurt.

update; What a difference a day makes.

I don't want to do a series of Sheen posts, but it's worth updating. His "Winning Recipes" sketch that he aired today was well done and funny. He looked like he'd gotten a good nights sleep and a shower and some people actually went to the time and effort of putting together a good piece of sketch comedy. It was like Charlie Sheen doing a sketch about Charlie Sheen. In addition, his lawsuit against the producers of 2 1/2 men states that he was fired "while he was sick". That and his apology to co-star John Crier indicate that he's aware that he was not well. It's possible he actually has a good crew around him. I have no way of knowing. But if he can get himself together and make yet another fortune being his own reality show, more power to him.

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