Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 19 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Special Victims Unit portrays bipolar disorder admirably!

Wow! If you didn't see Law and Order Special Victims Unit tonight, you missed what was the most accurate portrayal of mental illness I have ever witnessed on prime time television.

Detective Stabler's daughter is diagnosed with bipolar disorder after "self-medicating" herself into an overdose. The doctor's quick and precise diagnosis of her underlying bipolar disorder was unfortunately not the most accurate part of the show. Nevertheless, Kathleen, Stabler's daughter, is arrested for stealing, which leads to the introduction of Stabler's estranged, untreated, bipolar mother played expertly by Ellyn Burstyn. Burstyn plays the part so convincingly, one has to wonder if she has personal experience with bipolar. Her actions and dialogue freakishly duplicated the actions and words of someone I know with untreated bipolar disorder. It was unbelievable!

With lines like, "...but when I took the meds, I felt like a I was missing a part of me..." (I'm summarizing. I can't remember the exact words), Burstyn speaks a truth many of us with mental illness recognize. Her eccentric actions and grandiose thoughts were right on the money. Better still, the program realistically highlighted a family's stigma-based secrets and shame surrounding one member's mental illness.

Bravo to NBC and Law and Order for SWING, tonight's outstanding episode. If you didn't see it, look for it. I promise it will be worth your time.


Miss Defective said...

I missed this week's episode, but if they actually portrayed mental illness in an accurate light, I have to say...finally! I love the show, but each time they mentioned borderline personality disorder, they do not portray it accurately and I've also seen some negative portrayals of other mental illnesses as well. I'll have to find this episode online.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like this episode should be considered for one of SAMHSA's Voice Awards.

I wanted to let you know that I've created a widget to do my part in getting people involved and aware of mental illness and suicide.

If you like it, I'd be honored to have you post it! Hope all is well.

Unknown said...

I have watched this one episode many times as part of my own healing & coping & recovery with Bipolar. I personally feels it does represent Bipolar or at least based upon my own experiences of not being medicated & then being medicated with medications that only made the initial symptoms worse. I am an unmedicated Bipolar by choice with therapist & doctor advisement. I also have PTSD & seizures which make it hard to treat me for anything with prescription medications 'cause it may help one symptom & train wreck another. I find this episode as constructive & informative & to grow awareness about Bipolar. I am an addictive fan of SVU & have been for a decade. As a survivor of sexual child abuse & having long term medical repercussions because of my abuse back then - this show gives me a sense of safety, protection, truth, and hopes for an honest justice system even if it's only in a fictional show. Their content is brass, bold and depicts the grey areas of social interacting and social tragedies that many are stigmatized or too fearful to talk about. It's not perfect in all stories presented but it is a great way to get people to talk and to think & possibly one of the best motivating shows to get involved in society too. I know for me personally, this show is a constructive healing, recovery and helpful therapy to me:) Great blog post.