Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Of Meltdowns and Mania

Everyone's jumping on the Charlie Sheen bandwagon, and while I normally avoid jumping on bandwagons due to my propensity to fall off and injure myself, sometimes I have to go ahead. I'll nurse my bruises later.

Have you ever seen someone in the throes of a complete meltdown? My experience has more to do with psychotic episodes and blazing fits of fury (not fists), but they're not dissimilar. In each case, bystanders wonder, "What's going on, and how can I make it stop?" 

Perhaps not in Charlie's case. He's a media sensation. There's 24 hour reporting of his every inane utterance, his every illogical action, every further step down into his perverse reality. If I were a reporter, I'd latch on to everything that came out of his mouth, I'd be hoping for new spectacular shenanigans, I'd be hoping for even more melting, because that's how I make my living, isn't it? By showing the world celebrity, and what happens when it goes off the rails. Charlie's an easy newsmaker these days. Not only does he provide news, but he gives those of us without celebrity the opportunity to say, "Wow, look what happened to him. Celebrities do have issues!"

And then we can be happy we aren't one of them.

There are, unfortunately, people living through this same thing every day. They're not famous, they're not celebrities, and no one finds it amusing. It isn't a commentary on how celebrity can get so out of hand we can't recognize humanity in it because it's regular people, people like you and me, and they're in need of help. They aren't amusing. They're every bit as entertaining as Charlie, if mental illness can be said to be entertaining at all, but since it is with Mr Sheen, why not? 

It's become a spectator sport. What will he do next? 

If you live with someone who has mental illness, or if you know someone with mental illness, you know it's not a picnic. It is not entertaining in the least, no matter how unintentionally funny they may be. Okay, perhaps now and then there's an occasional laugh, but that's usually to ward off the alternate choice, which would be crying. Or hysteria. 

Charlie needs help, but he's not likely to get it. He has no reason to. He's getting all the attention he craves, people are eating this up, they're loving this train wreck. Give someone in this situation more rope, and he'll use it to make a bigger spectacle, and if that means hanging himself with it, so be it. We keep giving Charlie more rope to hang himself with. 

When my ex-husband was mentally ill and psychotic I could have given him a knife and said, "Go to it hon!" and let him play out his fantasies, but that's not really productive, is it? But celebrities? Let them at it. They're here to entertain us, after all, to provide a diversion from our normally humdrum lives. 

I don't have the answers. I just know that people who have these sorts of issues need people around them to speak the truth to them, to help them, and to urge them to get help. They need to know they're more than their illness, that their illness neither keeps them from being loved or from loving, and that it's an impediment, but it does not define them. Right now, Charlie's illness defines him, and once if he loses that, what's he have?

Nothing. So keep on keeping on Charlie. We're all watching.

For great information on bipolar, read Julie Fast's blog at


  1. Monique - as I've always said, if you're rich, you're called eccentric and people tolerate it. But if you're poor, you're crazy and they want to lock you up or arrest you.

  2. So well written, Monique. I feel for all those who suffer - in silence or on stage. May they all find the help they need and have the friends to lead them to find that help. It's what all of us need to get through.

  3. I think there are an awful lot of assumptions about Charlie Sheen at the moment. The largest one being, he's bipolar. To date, neither Charlie Sheen, a Sheen/Estevez family member, nor one of Charlie's doctors have admitted to him being bipolar.
    Days ago we were all assuming he was high on cocaine. That was proved an incorrect assumption.
    Of the top of my head, I can think of 3 different situations that would produce the same results we are all witnessing.
    1. Syphilis. Heck, Al Capone spent his last bit of time on this earth fishing out of his swimming pool.
    2. Drug withdrawal.
    3. Publicity.
    Of the interviews I have seen, it appears Mr. Sheen can stop "bringing the crazy" at will. So, while I'm quite sure that *something is wrong with him, it appears he has been ratcheting it up a level while in the beginning of his talk tour. My suspicion is he is most likely suffering from more than one problem/situation.
    With that said, I can't help but wonder how much more of an audience Major League 3 will get after all this publicity.
    I understand bipolarism from the inside. So, I am not without compassion. It most definitely tears apart lives. Who I feel sorry for are those of us who don't always have the means and support needed to successfully live with this disease.
    My biggest hope is regardless of whether Mr Sheen is bipolar or not, that it brings the disease itself to the forefront. People need to learn about the disease and those who are suffering from it.
    Who knows. Maybe because of Mr Sheen and his problems, extra funding may be given to support the bipolar disease cause.

  4. Anon, I suspect it's more than one thing too, and I certainly am not qualified to diagnose. And I too wish everyone who had mental illness could get the support they so desperately need.

    More funding would be a good outcome of this, at any rate, if it were to happen.

  5. I remain isolated from the Charlie Sheen thing, because i haven't seen it, just comments on comments about it. Somehow, it makes me think of Bedlam, where upper class English twits would go to watch and even taunt the inmates.

  6. I don't really feel sorry for Charlie Sheen. I think people make choices and there are repurcussions for those choices. If you make bad choices, bad things will happen. I do feel sorry for people with mental illness, but I don't feel sorry for people who abuse drugs and alcohol. I have had both in my family. I understand mental illness, I don't understand abusing drugs or alcohol. I have no tolerance for an addicted person because of how it has effected my family. I do have tolerance for mental illness for the same reason. I did not read the article because I don't really care about what is going on with Charlie Sheen. I think he is just crazy due to his own fault. My personl opinion. I may be wrong. If I am I will retract my statement when a licensed psychiatrist says otherwise.