My Response to Tom Sullivan Calling Bipolar Disorder A Fad

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**Trigger Warning** Talk of Suicide Attempt

By now I’m sure most of you have heard the ridiculous statements made on air by the ignorant Tom Sullivan of Fox News Radio. I mean yes it is Fox News, but come on, this is a new low even for them. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s just a little sample of what Mr. Sullivan stated regarding bipolar disorder, “I’m very skeptical. And I’ve got to tell you, if you haven’t been told, I will tell you. I think bipolar is like the latest fad. Everybody and their brother is getting diagnosed with bipolar. And last time I checked, we all have good days and we all have bad. And I don’t consider that an illness. And I don’t consider it a disability.” Basically the man had his panties in a bunch about people on disability. mediamatters.org transcribed the entire interview with the woman he spoke to and you can listen here 

What I want to talk about is how this “fad” almost ended my life. I had been in what we now know was a mixed state for about a week before crashing into depression when I first tried to take my own life. Bipolar disorder was the culprit. It wasn’t some bad day or made up illness that did it. Someone didn’t talk me into feeling this way, as Sullivan so sweetly points out in his broadcast. It was a fucking disease, a terrible all-consuming, debilitating disease.

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I was 32 years old the first time I intentionally tried to take my own life. To say that a darkness had crept in slowly would be a half-truth. The darkness had always been there, slipping in and out of the shadow of itself as darkness often does. This was different. This was a despair so encompassing that it cloaked even the tiniest flicker of hope. I was no longer a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister. I was anguish, sorrow, hopelessness, despair. I was lost and the only lifeline I could find was ending my own. My salvation came at the bottom of two bottles: whiskey and sleeping pills. It has to be the good whiskey though, a girl can’t go out on cheap whiskey, that leaves a terrible message behind. For the first time in four days I had something to do that would make sense to someone other than myself. I was going to the store. I was finally being responsible. I took my impending suicide very seriously, I was flawless in it’s execution. Now I just had to wait and drift off to sleep, dreaming of my two daughters, how much I loved them, and how much better of they would be with me gone. There would be nothing to leave behind, nothing of importance to say but twelve words scrawled on the back of an old family photo, “Brinly, I Love You. Tatym, I Love You. Scott, I’m Sorry. Forever”.

I don’t know what was looking out for me that night, but I woke up 17 hours later. I was admitted to hospital and I started a slow process of accepting my illness. Had I heard someone tell me at that point that it was a “fad” I wonder what that would have done to me. I wonder what that has done to the people who heard Sullivan say that. Now does it sound like at that time I wasn’t disabled? Tom Sullivan, you should be ashamed of yourself. People die every single day because of mental illness. Get educated. It’s people like you who make people like me want to curl up in shame, but I’m tougher than you are, and I’m smarter too. There are too many ignorant people like you in our world, but there are also hundreds of thousands of mental health advocates ready to stand up and say, “No. You’re wrong.” And you know what, people will hear us.

22 comments

  1. I totally appreciate you speaking out against that fool!! I signed a petition to get him/FOX to issue an apology! I think he needs to be an inpatient in a mental health unit for 2 weeks, and then work in a unit as a nurse’s aide for 2 weeks. Maybe, just maybe it would sink in that he was wronger than wrong in his foolspeak!

    I’m so sorry you’ve suffered the way you have.

    I LOVE what you wrote in this post, especially this part:

    “Tom Sullivan, you should be ashamed of yourself. People die every single day because of mental illness. Get educated. It’s people like you who make people like me want to curl up in shame, but I’m tougher than you are, and I’m smarter too. There are too many ignorant people like you in our world, but there are also hundreds of thousands of mental health advocates ready to stand up and say, “No. You’re wrong.” And you know what, people will hear us.”

    YES! People WILL hear us! Thank you Nicole!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been listening to Tom Sullivan for several years now and enjoy most of is down to earth common sense talks. First off you it is true that many are just making up illnesses to get on disability so he is right in that aspect. I think it is a fad in that many people are saying me too, me too because they are lazy and want free money. I am sorry, but deal with it (life) the best you can. I get depressed some times and I usually go for a walk to clear my head.
    Now do I believe there are a very few that need medication and some help, yes, but very few, not the millions jumping on the wagon to just get a free ride.
    Miss Nicole Lyons you seem to have the ability to write blogs, host sites, volunteer, and have a face book page so why not put that effort towards working a real job. If you had a real job you would have no time to be depressed. Work and a sense of purpose brightens the spirit. God bless and take care.

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    • Michael, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I do have a “real job” as well as everything you mentioned above. Thank you for your advice though, now may I offer you some? Please educate yourself. There are plenty of people in this world with “work and a sense of purpose” that still get depressed.
      Bipolar Disorder, just one of many different mental illnesses is not a fad. It used to be called Manic Depression. I just don’t understand how you can not get this. I agree that there are people that abuse systems. There are people that will make up symptoms to avoid working, or to receive a handout. That is not what I am talking about. I am talking about REAL Mental Illness and the people that live with it every single day. How is it that you are not willing to accept this? I’m just curious.
      Thank you for wishing me well.

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    • Michael,
      Despite clearly having access via the internet to a wealth of information, you have done what I has previously considered impossible and remained trapped in the Stone Age. I strongly suggest that you take it upon yourself to become educated on the facts regarding increasing disease rates, namely the fact that medical professionals agree that while certain diseases are being recorded with more regularity in the population, that is not because individuals are faking illness. Rather, as our ability to communicate and recognize symptoms increases, so does our ability to effectively diagnose. Bipolar Disorder and related mental illnesses, as a result of being highly stigmatized and sharing symptoms with other mental illness, were among those diseases that were commonly misdiagnosed and mistreated. Not unlike Autism, people who suffer from Bipolar Disorders were often labelled otherwise or shunned out of the psychiatric community all together.
      On another note, your disgusting misconception about people with mental illnesses being unable or unwilling to work is woefully misinformed. People who have some form of mental illness are statistically no more likely to be unemployed as individuals who are not at all mentally ill. I can attest to this anecdotally, as I myself am diagnosed with Bipolar II, hold three advanced degrees, a national certification as an interpreter, and three — count ’em, THREE — jobs, two of which are a result of my own independent business. Seriously : “If you had a real job you would have no time to be depressed.”? By the same token I can confidently say that if you had any self-respect as a human being, or compassion for those with whom you share this planet, you would not have made such judgmental and callous statements.
      Here, go educate yourself:
      http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=increased+diagnosis+of+bipolar&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart&sa=X&ei=kVHVVMH9F9fToATtw4G4DQ&ved=0CB0QgQMwAA
      http://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/myths-facts/
      http://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/implementation/topics/depression.html

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sarah,

        You just proved EXACTLY what I said in my piece,”…there are also hundreds of thousands of mental health advocates ready to stand up and say, “No. You’re wrong.” And you know what, people will hear us.”

        Thank You!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Michael,
    It appears that your avatar is a wheelchair. Am I seeing this correctly? Do you have, or does someone you know, have a physical disability? Perhaps on SSDI because they are severly limited to what they can do in the workplace? How would you answer if a nonprofessional radio host called this a FAD? The very difficult part of mental illness is that we don’t have wheelchairs for people to see our illness. It’s quite invisible and easily judged by people like you. One in six Americans has a mental illness. Look around you–it’s someone you know. Be kind. Learn more. Wishing you good health.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Woah! Clearly he isn’t familiar with the history is he? Bipolar once called Manic-Depressive back when the speaker’s parents were growing up is older than big pharma. Patients with this who were manic were called maniacs back then. Its not just a play on words. It is well noted that Plato would have his patients sit in a magical spring to subdue symptoms. Come to find out centuries later that magical spring contained Lithium. Unless you pull up stats you can’t say everyone is getting diagnosed with it and that its the latest fad just because a couple of celebrities get diagnosed with is. The truth is that we would not pump our bodies with these drugs that causes wicked side effects for S&G’s. Tom needs to actually live with an undiagnosed sufferer and maybe then he’ll get it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, thank you, very well put! Just when I feel like we’re making a tiny bit of headway, an idiot, like him, disheartens me all over again! I lost my 20yr old grandson to this “fad, 2 yrs ago and his grandfather, 5 yrs before that, not to mention all the attempts, by other members of the family. My daughter couldn’t even get my grandson on disability, that’s why he took his precious life, because they couldn’t afford the medications, or the very little help by the Psychiatrists and Therapists in their small town. She is still paying on the bills! He felt like he was too much of a burden! Mr Sullivan needs to experience something like that, to get his head on straight!

    Liked by 1 person

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