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 http://bipolarhappens.com/bhblog/