Obviously, the only thing that Catherine Zeta Jones and I have in common is our Bipolar Disorder, but because I have Bipolar Disorder I and she has Bipolar Disorder II, our personal stories about Bipolar Disorder might not match too much. There are four different types of Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar Disorder II is characterized by different moods altering between depression and hypomania and whatever that person’s normal mood is. A person with Bipolar II has also had at least one major depressive episode—significantly harder to deal with than the hypomania aspect of the illness. Hypomania can give a person a lot of extra energy and oftentimes people in the midst of hypomania are able to accomplish quite a bit.
In contrast, to be diagnosed with Bipolar I, you have to have had at least one major manic episode. I could write an entire memoir about my exploits from a single manic episode, but someone with Bipolar II would have a much different story to tell. Since most people aren’t hospitalized for hypomania, I am guessing that Catherine Zeta Jones was hospitalized for severe depression and unfortunately for those in her situation, funny stories about severe depression are hard to come by for the patients who suffer from depression. (This article talks a little of her past struggle with depression.)
Many of the people with Bipolar II are highly-driven individuals who thrive on the amount of energy that they get from hypomania, but because they are also more prone to major depression, they have a different set of highs and lows to deal with than I do. I don’t know much about Catherine Zeta Jones, but would imagine that she is a highly driven individual just based on her career path alone.
As the tabloids have reported, Catherine Zeta Jones has been under an enormous amount of stress recently—something that can trigger depression in a Bioplar II patient if the patient isn’t on the correct medication or isn’t being monitored carefully enough.
If Charlie Sheen were indeed Bipolar, which I truthfully doubt since most Bipolar patients don’t create entertainment shows based on their manic episodes while they are having them, he probably would have been considered a Bipolar I patient because of his rambling delusions.
Because of the nature of Catherine Zeta Jones’ diagnosis, I hope the press can give her the respect that she deserves.