Monday, September 03, 2007

Joey's Triumph Over Bipolar Disorder Is Remarkable: Psychiatrist

Joey's triumph over bipolar disorder is remarkable: psychiatrist

A little background here.

Andrew "Joey" Johns is a rugby legend in Australia, one of the best to ever play the game, and a national hero in that country. On a recent trip to Europe, they lost his luggage containing his medication, and he went 6 days without it. This, understandably, sent him into a mania, resulting in an alcohol binge, and arrest for drug possession.

But the reason for this post, is a quote by his psychiatrist:

Andrew Johns' psychiatrist says he has been astounded at his ability to perform while suffering bipolar disorder and taking drugs to treat the condition...

..."I think when the story comes out that Andrew did these things with the bipolar condition – was able to reach the height of sporting success and was able to do it on medication - I think that’s a very positive aspect" he said.

Now this pisses me off. I have NEVER felt there was something I couldn't do because of bipolar disorder. I watch for triggers and try to be cognizant of potential problems, but I have never felt limited by this condition. If it's important to me, I'll figure out a way to accomplish it. Period.


1. Do people out there feel limited by this condition?
2. If limited, is it a factor of the disorder itself? Or of the meds used to treat the disorder?
3. Is this post a function of my current hypomanic / potentially manic frame of mind? Will I feel the same way after I crash?


KansasSunflower said...

I don't necessarily feel LIMITED, but I've heard of enough bipolar patients on Social Security benefits that I'm proud I function, and function well, does that make sense? I have my "mental health" days away from work, but yeah, I feel proud of what I've accomplished, despite my crushing depressions.

I have to say, though, what a DUMB move that was to check his medication. I just went to Cancun, and do you think that even for a SECOND that medicine was out of my sight? NO!! It was in my carry on. I would NEVER risk going even one day/night without my medicine. That was the #1 most important item(s) to me - before my contact solution and eyeglasses, even.

That was pretty stupid - sorry, but it was. What the HELL was he thinking? Of COURSE eventually his luggage was going to get lost!

Meredith said...

Agreed with kansassunflower. I travel frequently, being an out-of-state college student, and my pill organizer is rarely out of my sight. I triple-check to make sure I have it in my purse.

That aside, I think that quotation is extremely stupid. For every bipolar person living on disability, there is one who is functioning so well the general public is unable to tell there's anything wrong with him/her. For example, my father is well-connected in his industry (commercial construction), and he knows at least five or six people who are bipolar that are extremely successful in the business world. There are bipolar celebrities (Carrie Fisher, Stephen Fry, Macy Gray) and even politicians (Rep. Patrick Kennedy) who have made millions of dollars and been highly successful.

So, I strongly dispute that psychiatrist's statement. Yes, it is great to have yet another success story, and he's a good inspiration, both for achieving so much and for being so open about his condition. But, if one is stable and on the right medication/therapy/whatever works, being successful shouldn't be a surprise.

BamaGal said...

I feel alot has to do with the mental health system as a whole. In my area, the consumers are treated as if they ARE unable to function and encouraged to be dependent on the system. They still follow the medical model---focus solely on giving meds and therapy. There is no recovery based info given. Although I am what my pdoc terms "high-functioning", I'm frequently told how detrimental working or even a real life can be.

That's why I'm so active in our area to bring the mental health system into this century. It was only back in the 80's when those with a severe mental illness were still confined to the state hospitals and never released. It took a massive lawsuit to change that practice.

Just Me said...

I feel that I have limitations on my life brought by both the illness and treatments. Mainly they are related to low energy levels and decreased concentration.

I think this speaks to the number of ways bipolar is defined and diagnosed. Different doctors are going to call different symptoms on the same patient different things, and I truly believe that there are plenty of people out there who have a bipolar diagnosis who do not have the same illness I do, and even the I and II thing doesn't come that gap.

Bipolar has taken away plenty of things from my life that I can't get back. Because I don't fully respond to treatment I don't get total relief pretty much ever. I am unable to do simple things like listen to music or watch a movie, and that's illness related. I work, but I struggle to do so.

On the other hand, I decided long ago to fight for what is important to me. I qualify for SSDI and even vocational rehab has suggested I may need to just give up on working. I refuse to accept this because working is what I want to do. I know it won't be something I can always do, but I sure intend to try.

I think what you're asking though is can bipolar take away things if you fight to keep them? For me, the answer is a resounding yes. I'll never have children. My working is limited and the academic future I'd hoped for gone. I've given up music and tv and movies. I've given up socialization. Trying as hard as I physically and emotionally am able lets me barely manage to work and have a home.

Yet I consider myself successful. And if things were different, if meds were a really good thing for me, then I might feel really differently about this.

Not sure.

Jon said...

KS, meredith, bamagal, and JustMe,

Please accept my apologies for this outburst. The manic "I can do it all!" attitude is part of how bipolar disorder affects me. I can't do it all, and the more manic I get the more pissed off I get when it doesn't happen. It feeds on itself, and the mania grows exponentially until I crack. Be glad you weren't around today when I eventually cracked.

KS - I hadn't thought of that, I usually check my meds. A disaster waiting to happen.

Meredith - a very diplomatic way of saying success is relative to the individual, and I agree with you 100%. I don't feel too successful myself right now...

Bamagal - nobody has ever told me how detrimental working or a real life could be. I don't know how I would have taken that. Perhaps I should have been told that at some point, because my life is NOT a real life.

JustMe - I do NOT have the same bipolar disorder you do. Our symptoms, our manifestations, our lives, are different, yet our treatments are most likely very similar. There's something inherently wrong with this. I've read of your struggles for a long time, and I wish I had half your strength. I'm sorry again for my insensitivity.

Stacy said...

I am limited by my condition and am on SSDI. However, I also have PTSD, OCD, severe GAD.

I too keep my meds in my carry on!!

Jon said...

Stacy - I'm learning a thing or two here. Thanks for your comment.

Carolyn said...

Yes, I feel very limited... I have ADD along with the bipolar, and they can't treat the ADD with the typical stimulants because it sends me straight to mania... my other meds help the lack of focus to a certain degree, but at work this is ALWAYS a problem.


sara said...

Oh man.

No, I am not limited. In fact, it probably helps me do some stuff better than other people. There are plenty of research articles on upward drift, increased ambition and goal directed behavior.

But the people like me are mostly invisible to the world. I hate the support sites and so on where people have the million different diagnoses and massive amounts of self-pity and poor me syndromes.

Bipolar has caused me a massive amount of suffering. Indescribable to someone who hasn't been there, something I wouldn't wish on anyone. But it also has given me drive and confidence and determination. I am not broken and I resent the implication of the article about people with this disorder. I agree, Jon.