Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Liz Spikol and 'Mad Pride'

Shea Roggio for The New York Times

"It's not a 'mental' illness, it's a medical condition." Dale Neaman

So there she is, Liz Spikol, profiled in the New York Times and on the Huffington Post, back to back. Wow. How cool is that. Especially on a subject about which she happens to be an expert: mental illness.

The focus is on Spikol's contribution to a modern movement dedicated to bringing mental illnesses out of the dark ages and onto the Internet and YouTube. To shine light on a litany of very real medical conditions once hidden in the same kind of closet as homosexuality.

I knew Liz as a child, followed her impressive professional career, learned of her long battle with mental illness. I've celebrated her growth here but never came out, so to speak, about my own membership in her not so exclusive club.

'Mad Pride' is finally a group I can get behind 100 per cent. No, I'm not crazy (neither is Liz). But I'm not totally sane either. If you just went, HUH? that's the problem 'Mad Pride' proponents are trying to address.

Look around, hardly anybody you know is issue-free, so to speak. Or chemical-free, as a result of any number of very real mood disorders and illnesses. Usually inherited, just like heart disease or diabetes.

Yeah, I live a "normal," mentally balanced life, but only with the help of prescribed pharmaceuticals, internal fortitude and external support. So do millions of others, many, many of whom are related to me.

In our family alone we've got bi-polar disorder, manic depression, hypo-mania, clinical depression, suicidal ideation disorder, a potpourri of anxiety disorders, PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, alcoholism, ADHD, Asperger's Syndrome and last but not least, body dysmorphic disorder.

Just about the only thing missing is schizophrenia. Although.... wait ... no! ... maybe ... well ... hold on! ... shut up! Oh, nevermind. Just kidding.

Mental illness isn't funny. Unless you've been through the tunnel, come out the other end and are managing your disease well. Then it can--for some, Must--be a stitch. Because that's the best way to patch yourself up.

A poster girl for 'Mad Pride,' Liz Spikol speaks with heart, humor, raw honesty, intelligence and incredible perception about her battles with bi-polar disorder. Listen to her.

Then listen some more.

I'll take my turn in print. Sometime soon.

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