Celebrity Spokesperson

Bipolar has its own celebrity now. Jane Pauley announced at the end of last week that she was hospitalized for bipolar disorder and is now on lithium. I've included two news articles here as links one from CNN and the other from USA Today.

The USA Today article emphasizes that Jane Pauley was fortunate in that she promptly received treatment and was able to stay in a top hospital. The comment is made at the end of the article that there is a high suicide rate for people suffering from bipolar disorder, due to a lack of treatment.

Being diagnosed and finding the right treatment can be very difficult and disheartening. The last thing that anyone wants to do when they are ill is go around trying to find a doctor who is able to help them. Paired with the lack of parity in mental health coverage, it also adds the stress of not knowing how much the illness will cost.

When K was hospitalized last year and when she underwent ECT, we paid out thousands of dollars. Fortunately, we are able to afford it, but even so, it was additional stress on both of us at a already extraordinarily stressful time. She wasn't working, our savings were quickly depleting, and K wasn't getting better. And we have good coverage. I can't imagine making the choice as to whether or not you can afford the treatment and medications. Even if you can afford treatments, finding the right physician may be too much.

I met other caretakers while K was attending an outpatient program, who were not so lucky. They had difficulty finding doctors who were willing to share information with the family caretakers, the ill family members were belligerent, and the caretakers were struggling to find support for themselves.

I haven't gone actively searching for a caretaker safety net, but it feels as if there is very little available. Jane Pauley is very lucky with her disease, but I hope she's able to speak out on behalf of those, who are not in a situation where they are able to find care.


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