Living a Full Life with Bipolar Disorder

by Erica on October 10, 2014

I had a really fabulous time chatting with Author & Advocate, Morgan Molthrop, on Catch Good Health Radio this week, and it was fascinating to hear about his health journey with bipolar disorder and addiction.

Morgan McCall MolthropMorgan has led quite a full life- he’s worked on Wall Street while also going to NYU Law School, traveled Europe while modeling, worked for a publishing firm, and was an executive for a telecom company.  He moved back home to New Orleans in 2009, and just finished two books.  Andrew Jackson’s Playbook: 15 Strategies for Success was released on September 9th, and Artist Spaces will be released on October 29th.  (I posted the link to the books on my Catch Good Health FaceBook fanpage.)

During our show together, Morgan shared that it took several years for him to learn that he had bipolar disorder, and when he did, it was hard to accept.  What he thought was a strong work ethic, and an ability to accomplish a lot in a short period of time (which was fantastic for Wall Street and law school!), was actually related to the manic episodes he experienced.

Eventually, Morgan began to self medicate in an attempt to take back some control of his life.  He learned how to “treat” his lows with different drugs over the years, as well as alcohol.  Of course the alcohol only made his lows worse, given alcohol is a depressant.  He took time off of work, and learned how to, as he shared, hide.  This hiding allowed him to keep his jobs, and keep looking like things were okay.  When he started his own business, however, it was much harder to hide, and the illusion started to unravel.

Morgan also shared that throughout his lifetime, he had periods where he contemplated suicide.  He suffered from depression much of his life, undiagnosed bipolar disorder, and the drug and alcohol use only complicated things even more.  He attributes the No Aids Task Force in New Orleans with saving his life and getting him the appropriate mental health care that he needed, when he was finally ready to ask for help.  It took hearing voices for Morgan to final admit he needed help.  He also shared how related mental illness and addiction really are, and how so many people with addiction are really trying to self medicate an actual illness, their pain, and/or trauma.

I really admire Morgan’s openness with his health and story, as I truly think it could help save someone’s life.  Morgan talked about the delicate balance for loved ones of those living with addiction, and how it’s so hard to love them without enabling.  It’s so important that loved ones don’t contribute to the problem.  If you find yourself loving someone with an addiction- reach out for your own help. Therapy, support groups- whatever it takes.  There are resources out there, just ask.  I’m sharing a few below in case you need them. Morgan also shared that if you have a loved one that you suspect is suffering from a mental health issue, you can always ask (or tell) them you’d like to go with them to talk with a mental health professional.

Jacksons Playbook FINAL CoverAlso- Morgan talked about how he was truly concerned that getting appropriate treatment may negatively affect his creativity, which is so important to him.  In reality, however, he’s actually more creative now.  He and his doctor work together regularly to ensure he’s taking the appropriate amounts of medication.  His creativity was in full force during his manic episodes, but would plummet with his depressive episodes.  With his moods more balanced now, his creativity is truly flourishing, hence how he was able to write two books this year!  So…don’t let that be an excuse to avoid receiving medical care you may need.  Morgan is more himself while on medication, and is truly living a full life.

If you feel like you, or someone you know, may need mental health help, or you have an addiction and are ready to get help, please know there really are resources out there to help you.  The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a free national helpline (1-800-662-HELP) that offers treatment referrals for individuals and families for mental health and/or substance abuse disorders.  You can also ask your doctor, find a local health clinic, call a mental health professional for an appointment, call a rehabilitation center and ask for guidance, or go to a local support group.  By the way- many support groups still meet in person, but more and more are offering online and phone options too now.

If you or someone you know is in a crisis and suicide is a possibility, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (within the U.S.).  You can also call 911.

If you’re a Veteran and are experiencing a crisis, you and your loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1.  You can also chat online at www.VeteransCrisisLine.net, or send a text message to 838255 to receive free, confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, even if you’re not registered with the VA.

Per an article in today’s USA Today, there’s a suicide every 13 minutes in the United States, and we lose 40,000 Americans every year to suicide.  40,000 people!  Mental illness and substance abuse play a huge role in this tragedy.  Please, if you or a loved one is struggling- reach out for help.  It’s there, it’s available, and you’re not alone.  If you need a little inspiration, think about all Morgan’s been through, and all he’s been able to accomplish since reaching out for help.

Please tune in to Catch Good Health Radio on Wednesday, October 29th at 1pm EST, when I talk with my friend, Dr. Karen Hammers.  Karen is a psychiatrist and coach, and we’ll be talking more about depression, anxiety, suicide prevention, and how to get help for yourself or your loved ones.

Big hugs,
Erica

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