Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Things I Find Fascinating: People You May Not Know Were Bipolar

According to its Wikipedia entry, bipolar disorder (historically known as manic-depressive disorder) is defined as "a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated energy levels, cognition, and mood with or without one or more depressive episodes." Bipolar disorder is all too common in this day and age, and probably historically as well (though the official diagnosis of the disorder is fairly modern).

Maybe you're very familiar with this disorder because you or someone you love suffers from it. Or maybe not. Either way, something you might not know that some very famous people you'd easily recognize – writers, actors, musicians, and the like – suffer from bipolar disorder. In some cases, these famous folks have been able to keep their disorder somewhat in check so that it does not adversely affect their careers. In other cases, the disorder has – either directly or indirectly – ruined their careers. In still other cases, the very strange behavior of a few of these celebrities may actually be explained somewhat by their (sometimes private) struggles with this disorder. Whatever the case, here are just a few public figures who reportedly, or by their own admission, or by drawing historical inferences, suffer or have suffered from bipolar disorder...

Comedian-actor Russell Brand is not only bipolar, but suffers
from ADHD as well, and has also been bulimic in the past.

Lead singer and guitarist for '90s grunge rock band
Nirvana, Kurt Cobain was bipolar, had ADHD, and was
also known to abuse alcohol and drugs throughout his
short life. Cobain committed suicide in 1994 at age 27.

Singer-actress Rosemary Clooney suffered from
bipolar disorder for much of her life. She revealed
her struggles with the disorder in her autobiography.

Mystery novelist Patricia Cornwell has been very open
about her struggles with bipolar disorder. She has also
suffered from anorexia nervosa and depression in the past.

Actor Robert Downey, Jr. has both denied and
confirmed his diagnosis as bipolar at various
times. While juggling a successful career in films,
Downey has also battled with substance abuse.

Actor Richard Dreyfuss has enjoyed great success in
show business, all while battling bipolar disorder.

Best known for her role in the original Star Wars films as Princess Leia,
actress-novelist Carrie Fisher has suffered from bipolar disorder as well as
sporadic substance abuse and prescription medication addiction in the past. 

Perhaps some of actor-director Mel Gibson's strange behavior in recent
years is due in part to his suffering from bipolar disorder. Perhaps not.
Gibson reportedly received his bipolar diagnosis only in recent years.

Probably best remembered for her role as Scarlett O'Hara in
Gone With The Wind, actress Vivien Leigh suffered from
bipolar disorder for much of her life. Her reputation as
being very difficult to work with could probably be
directly attributed to her struggles with this disorder.

Singer-actress Demi Lovato went public with her
diagnosis of bipolar disorder after a very public
outburst. Lovato also revealed that she had been
struggled with the eating disorder, bulimia.

Former child actress Kristy McNichol retired from acting at age
30 in the midst of a successful sitcom career upon being diagnosed
with bipolar disorder. She was later quoted as saying, "My
feeling was that it was time to play my biggest part – MYSELF!
...It has been the best thing that ever happened to me."

Singer Sinead O'Connor, possibly as well-known for her unusual
behavior as for her music, revealed her bipolar diagnosis several ago.
She also admitted to attempting suicide on her 33rd birthday in 1999.

Lead singer and frontman for the popular '80s and
early '90s rock band Guns N' Roses, Axl Rose was
diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1988. After the
band broke up, Rose disappeared from the public
eye for several years, but resurfaced in recent years
 when G N' R reformed to record a new album,

Singer-actor Frank Sinatra described himself as an "18-karat manic-depressive...
having lived a life of violent emotional contradictions." It is said that
Sinatra was most at ease in glamorous surroundings, where he could
most readily shake off his mood swings and bouts of depression.

After several years of battling substance abuse and
suicidal thoughts, actor-martial artist Jean-Claude
Van Damme was diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar
disorder in the late 1990s. After beginning treatment
for the disorder, he was much better able to deal with the
rampant mood swings and resume his film career.

For all her talent as a singer and songwriter, Amy Winehouse's
personal life was a hot mess. In her short life, Winehouse
abused alcohol and drugs, battled bouts of depression, and also
also suffered from eating disorders. Though her actual diagnosis
was never confirmed, Winehouse described herself as manic-
depressive, at least in part to deflect attention from some of her other actual problems. Winehouse died at age 27 from alcohol poisoning. 

Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones has enjoyed success in
a number of popular films during her career. She is also
famous for being the wife of actor Michael Douglas.
Zeta-Jones was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder
in April 2011 and subsequently began treatment for it.

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