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19 Sep 06, 10:54 AM - Stephen Fry: manic depression

Posted by Crippled Monkey

Tonight sees part one of the much-trailed and anticipated Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the... Manic Depressive.

Stephen was diagnosed as having manic depression - also known as bipolar disorder - eleven years ago. Follow him as he takes an emotional yet entertaining journey to help us understand the condition which drives those who have it from extreme highs to crippling and often suicidal lows.

Follow the above link to find related content on the BBC's health site including personal diaries and films from people with bipolar. Also, why not check out Ouch's stories from Electroboy and our monthly columns from Liz Main - both of whom have personal experience of the condition.

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At 07:12 AM on 20 Sep 2006, Terence Le Duc wrote:

Hi,

I would like to pass a message to Stephen Fry about his disorder.
MD is a chemical inbalance in the brain caused by emotional overload and increased by pills and drugs. One drug that is commonly overlooked however is Caffeine. It can have a devastating effect even in the smallest quantities on some people. Look it up - Manic Depression and Coffee. The young boys were drinking Coke to wash down their pills - that is terrible. Drink only water and home made fruit juices for 6 months see how you feel...
Good luck

Terence

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At 01:48 PM on 20 Sep 2006, sally wrote:

hi just to say it was good to see the programmelast night. I am a fellow suffer of bipolor depression and it was good to know i wasnt alone
thanks
sally

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At 01:49 PM on 20 Sep 2006, sally wrote:

hi just to say it was good to see the programmelast night. I am a fellow suffer of manic depression and it was good to know i wasnt alone
thanks
sally

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At 01:21 PM on 22 Sep 2006, kay richards wrote:

My two daughters suffer fron schizophrenia, but I am convinced that my husband has a bipolar disorder as described by Stephen Fry. He won't see a doctor so how do you get help.

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At 02:06 PM on 25 Sep 2006, Jasmine reavley wrote:

I am mystified as to why Stephen Fry is not on medication. Had he been diagnosed with diabetes he would have taken the necessary medicine. I take 1gram lithium carbonate a day and am 100x better than my pre-lithium days.

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At 09:37 PM on 26 Sep 2006, Hannah wrote:

Thank you a thousand times to a brave, determined man who has made others aware of the horrible effects of depression and bipolar. Just to say please don't be afraid of taking medication- i am on fluoxetine for depression and although it has been difficult adjusting whilst reducing the dosage, it is just another adventure. Life would be boring without these experiences, and who is to say that it would be better? I am a stronger person because of my illness, and if you are not already Stephen, one glorious day you will realise that you are too. Much love and prayers to you, Han xxxxxxxxx

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At 10:38 PM on 26 Sep 2006, Ann wrote:

MESSAGE FOR STEPHEN FRY, if possible please.

Dear Stephen, I have just finished watching the second episode of your programme. I have always thought you were a great actor, comidian, and a thoroughly nice man. Doing this and opening up to us all is amazing, and i hope it helps you as much as it helps others.
I now know why i have debts of around 10k without any chance of repaying them, and really KNEW better after working at the Citizens Advice for over 10 years!! I used to laugh and say 'i will be taking my own advice soon' how little did i know!! I couldn't control it, but put it down to losing my father, who was the most wonderful man, or 'it's only cheap' trouble was i couldn't just buy one jumper, say, i would have to buy one in each colour!! Still i have a goal to work towards, not clearing my debts unfortunately as i am on benefits, but to try and make myself better with help from the professionals.
Thank you so much, once again, and the most fondest of regards to you. Remember the world would be a sadder place without you in it.
Lots of love to you Stephen, Ann

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At 11:00 PM on 26 Sep 2006, Di wrote:

Well done Stephen for bringing this topic into the public domain, in a sensitive way and with a balanced approach! Having suffered from anxiety and depression some years ago, I related to most of the topics covered.
I had always thought there was a touch of the 'manics' to my depression and when I reached what I thought was the 'end of the road', sought help.

Cognitive behavioural therapy changed my life because it changed the way I 'thought' - I am a much stronger, more centered person because of it - and it feels so good.

As someone else has suggested, don't underestimate the power of caffeine. For some people even a little amount can cause drastic mood swings. I now live 'on a level' but even the smallest amount can cause both overexcitability and also clinginess, paranoia and depression.

And last but not least, the thing that I believe in the end saved my sanity - 'Star Flower Oil'! - which I took by accident in another supplement but soon realised that it was this that was the key to my recovery. Within a week I saw the outside world again, after living for several years within myself. Other oils on the program were suggested but not this particular one, which acts as a catalyst for chemicals to balance properly in the brain.

Before trying more drastic medications, do try these natural remedies. Now I take a star flower capsule most days and drink decaffinated drinks; and rarely think about depression.

Losing the highs, for 'living on a level' is, for me, so much more rewarding. When everything is balanced, your creativity and happiness reach a new level - without the handicaps!!

If these comments help just one person, I'll be glad that I wrote this.

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At 08:16 AM on 27 Sep 2006, Jennifer wrote:

It was with great interest listening to Stephen Fry last night. As a personal life coach I work with alot of clients to develop new behaviours and habits to achieve their goals. Often they have behaviours that have been developed over many years that have become an obstacle to them moving forward. The voices in our heads that Stephen referred to with himself as calling him a etc is not unique. We all have voices in our head - this is our subconscious thinking. When this "voice" works against us, in a coaching context it's called a limiting belief. The good news is, it is possible over time to retrain our thinking and our beliefs about ourselves and thereby develop new behaviours that work for us rather than against us. A very good book to read for anyone interested in understanding our negative voices (and we all have them) is Rick Carson's "Taming Your Gremlin".

Jennifer

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At 11:53 AM on 27 Sep 2006, Linda O'Donovan-Pinker wrote:


I have admired Stephen Fry's talent for years. After watching him reveal his battle with Manic Depression i admire his courage and generousity as well. Keep battling Stephen you are helping a lot of people on the way and hopefully you'll gain some satifaction for yourself.

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At 12:37 PM on 27 Sep 2006, Julie wrote:

THANKYOU so much for making the programme about DEPRESSION. I am a 37 yr old female who has suffered most of my life with depression, and am afraid to tell many people about my condition due to stigmas attached.

I tried most forms of treatments from anti-depressants (Prozac) to all sorts of therapies and for me the only thing that worked was HYPNOTHERAPY. It helped so drastically (and only after 2 sessions) that I even decided to train to become a hypnotherapist myself and am in fact, taking my exam next weekend in order to become a practising hypno-therapist. I accept that I will never get rid of the depression, however I am now able to maintain my 'illness' as Hypnotherapy is a tool you can also use on your own. I thoroughly recommend it!

I strongly feel that EVERYONE suffering from depression should begin by looking at their DIET before anything else, followed by their lifestyle and daily routine.

Good luck to all my fellow sufferers and may you find the way to help yourself. . .
THANKYOU Stephen!

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At 01:55 PM on 27 Sep 2006, Henry Webster wrote:

I was pleased that someone as well known as Stephen Fry was able to tell their story so entertainingly. However I do feel that Stephen's story and most of the other people featured in the programme were examples of the well educated middle classes. In most cases medical help was obstained by private means and treatment was made available promptly. What we did not see much of is the devistation mental ill health has on relationships and what happens to people who lose everything.This can happen when people slip through the net, are mis-diagnosed or are damaged from toxins in medication. As Stephen Fry illustrated: he can afford manic episodes and has used the illness as ameans of creativity. Lucky man.

I was pleased to see mental health on primetime tv but feel this was a very sanitised version of the full picture. Its a start though and Rome wasn't built in a day. Most importantly the best and most insightful messag was by the father of sufferer who observed the biggest killer is the stigma.

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At 04:03 PM on 27 Sep 2006, Lucy Gaster wrote:

It's true that Stephen Fry's programme concentrated on the very bright - but not necessarily well-off - people afflicted by bipolar disease, but it was a very brave effort to get mental health into the mainstream and to acknowledge the real dangers arising from this illness. As a mother of a bi-polar daughter now in her thirties living in the USA - and I empathised enormously with the comments of Stephen's sister on the particular difficulties associated with absence - I'd say that it is a combination of help that's needed: medication but with a LOT of monitoring; diet; acupuncture; ability to talk to friends and family; and possibly above all, cognitive therapy, which really seems to give you tools to deal with incipient episodes of depression. Good luck to all those affected! Lucy

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At 10:35 AM on 28 Sep 2006, martin solomon wrote:

Very interesting documentary. Comments of diet or Caffeine(a drug) affecting mood are obvious. It is known as a pick-you-up so there will be down sides. But drastic diet changes etc. or continued drug use to balance the (bi-polar brain) does not work for everyone, they may smoke or drink which can alter the affects of the drug. Balance in life is the key while promoting 'futures' Stephen is lucky because he has found an area where his manic side is appreciated, other sufferers will use art of music etc. He admits without the 'different' way of thinking he would probably wouldn't be a well known name. I agree with Henry Webster, this did not complete the picture for the common man who did not go to cambridge or like miss feldman oxford. Surely rather than discussing quick fix drugs a more positive affect would be to ensure sufferers have their`primal scream` their outlet for the manic side. After all with possibly millions of sufferers and high suicide rates it is cold comfort to those without the money and opportunities when stephen could channel his efforts by investing in those with similar problems futures thus taking his mind off his own depression. More people like Stephen are needed, because I feel he is one of many 'different' people who could help other 'different' people realise their potential before they waste their lives. He has made a positive step in bringing the subject onto the discussion table, well done to him and Jo Brand.

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At 07:34 PM on 28 Sep 2006, ginaceltia wrote:

Yeh it was a good programme but I was rather concerned to see My Fry deciding not to take medication. That's not something I would recommend...for alot of us, no medication = sectioned in a matter of weeks. ( I have made myself rather unwell over the summer by not taking meds) In fact he is the first person I have never heard of who can live without medication but since I spend alot of time on wards, maybe i only meet those of us cursed with severe Bipolar. Also I began to wonder if showing the severity of the illness, maybe sacrificed a challenge to stigma. What would have helped me, was a presentation that emphasised to a greater extent, that most of the time us Bipolars are quite lucid, safe and ultimately - very employable. ( a job - what's that - I cant remember!)

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At 02:30 PM on 29 Sep 2006, Tracy Shorrock wrote:

Hi,

Great programme Mr. Fry. I don't suffer myself, but do get in a fearsome rage about various injustices I see going on in the world about me. Like most people, I have my ups and downs, but nothing as severe as those shown on the programme.

I am concerned, however, that the more 'needy' among us will jump on the bandwagon, stick their hands in the air, and say, 'oh, I must be bi-polar... where are the meds?' And isn't 'bi-polar' one of those irritating Americanisms that seems to continue to pervade the true English language... anyway...I digress.

I just wanted to say, if you ever find yourself with a lack of space and need to get rid of one of your digital SLR cameras, I'd be happy to provide it with a warm, loving home! I'm not joking, I've always wanted one, just can't justify the cost.

Toodle-pip,

Tracy S.

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At 04:48 PM on 29 Sep 2006, Trevor wrote:

Manic Depression diagnosis and treatment is a matter of opinion. The treatment can be so radical it could devastate your life. You couldn?t prove a psychiatrist wrong and they often disagree amongst themselves. It?s not an exact science, its educated guess work.

I was referred to a specialist at Mordsley Hospital and diagnosed Manic Depressive. For 10 years I took Lithium with a concoction of various drugs. I had two courses of six week ECT treatment. During that time I had Lithium poisoning three times and permanent difficulty with short term memory. Twice I was considered for a lobotomy assessment but it was held as a future option.

On high I was obsessive, with what mattered at the time, and couldn?t sleep properly for weeks. My body would demand sleep and was exhausted but my head wouldn?t stop. I couldn?t sit still and would fight with myself. Finally, I?d pass out for a few days and enter a period of low. The, illness, anxiety, shame, made me want to die and be at peace.

At 30 years old, the responsibility of a young family, the prognosis, made my life intolerable. To this day, I don?t understand how I survived suicide, wondering if it was divine intervention, but it was the right thing to do and I regret it didn?t go to plan. I would never try it again because of family feelings but I do wish I?d hurry up and die from natural causes.

I really wish I could help someone with advice but I can?t because I don?t know. The Doctors don?t know, not sure how, lithium, ECT, many drugs, work.

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At 12:52 PM on 30 Sep 2006, Sue wrote:

What a wonderfully helpful programme for any of us suffering from depression and wanting to know more about the various aspects of bi-polar depression. What didn't come out with any of in any of the interviews was what stopped people from committing suicide though severely depressed. I have been one off being admitted to a psychiatric hospital several times. What has saved me is my deep faith. I am not a frequent church going person, but pray regularly. What I also learned at a very young age (under 10) is that the one sin that God will not forgive you for is suicide - this is what has saved my life twice when I was very close. As I've got older (I'm now over 40), I've also learnt to more easily accept the trust that faith in God teaches in Christianity. A friend of a cousin (who as it turned out was a newly ordained vicar in her 50s) also said something rather interesting and reaffirming - God doesn't give you more than you can handle. At that time I was struggling with depression severely and living was a huge struggle, but these words provided no end of comfort and that there would be a light at the end of the tunnel. That light appeared six months ago, 18 months after I spoke to her. This faith, along with diet, exercise, stress reduction and a greater understanding of my persoanl needs and mood triggers, has helped me to such an extent that I was able to give up drugs two months ago. In the time since I have had ups and downs, but now the playing field is much more level and I feel that longer term, I will be able to better manage my depression. It's been three long years, but I am now looking forward to life again.

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At 01:47 PM on 03 Oct 2006, Richard wrote:

Stephen Fry and the producers of The Secret Life of the MD clearly deserve credit for bringing mental illness into greater public view, but I was deeply disappointed (and, the more I think about it, angered) by the focus on highly talented, creative celebs, and in particular Mr Fry's repeated invitation to interviewees to 'press the button and ditch your MD'. It was rather significant that the only interviewee who chose not to press the button was the only non-celeb. But if you've won Oscars, attended parties at No 10, and met Prince Charles, you might well think it was worth putting up with the downs of MD (personally, I would need something a bit more substantial). But most of those afflicted by mental illness don't have such 'highs' to make the hell of their downs seem worthwhile. And they don't have the obscene wealth to pay for their shopping binges (hey, Stephen, how about donating some of those unused iPods and cameras to charity? It might even make you feel good). For them, a chance for a life without mental illness would be something to grab at once. Yet the programmes managed to send the opposite message - that mental illness is somehow glamorous because it allows you to do glamorous, creative things. I'd just like to stop being grumpy with my kids. And even pass up the chance to meet Prince Charles for that.

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At 12:13 PM on 04 Oct 2006, Peter Loveland wrote:

Ah! the age old discussion surrounding manic depression and bi-polar etc...I myself suffer from the symptoms postulated by the honourable Mr Fry and put it down to a lack of stimuli within modern day society. Unfortunately there is a price to pay for genius and Stephen certainly has that. Associating with lay people can be so painful that one becomes resentful and annoyed at the rigid norms of that powdered world. This manifests itself with self hate and an un-yielding guilt spiral that has to be quenched by obsessive behaviour. Many manic depressives often have a vice: alcohol, drugs and in Stephen's case, shopping. Society says manic depressives are wrong to feel the way they do: Continue to live in your miopic (sic) two dimentional world of breakfast tv and chat shows that set in. I say NO! Manic depressives are special and have a gift. We experience the world at the very best and the very worst which gives us insight and knowledge. Best we use it...!

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At 03:38 PM on 07 Oct 2006, Chris, Cambs wrote:

This is a message for Stephen Fry:
I would like to personally thank you for doing the programme, I have very recently been diagnosed with manic depression. I knew next to nothing about it, only what my doctor had told me, wich at this erly stage was was very little. But watching your programme has given my an insight into the problem.
I have seen that there is a lot of people out there with the same feelings that I get & it is very reasuring.
I am seeing a councillor this week, I am very nervous about it but at the same time I also want to get help.
So thankyou Stephen I know it must have been hard for you to film, but Myself & I'm sure many others have gained so much from watching it.

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At 08:58 AM on 08 Oct 2006, coriolanus bard wrote:

I thought the programme was wonderful, but the message board that went with it was a bit random, some people got loads of replies, others none.

Considering it was for people with mental health problems, feelings of rejection, what did I say wrong, was I just boring, generally insignificant etc seemed to be flying around.

I guess it would maybe raise a lot of issues and pain and people may be more open and go and see their GP, when they had been avoiding the situation.

I just felt the board was on dangerous ground.

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At 09:43 PM on 08 Oct 2006, Jacqui wrote:

Dear All

I felt that the programme was quite enlightening at parts. Particulary as a biploar sufferer myself. However I did feel it missed out key areas such as how it affects relationships and the troubles bipolars have with them. Ialso felt that a guide to how to help someone with bipolar would have bee worthwhile as there was little information on that point. Overall though I felt that the programmer would certainly help toehrs to understand my condition just not how to deal with it!

And if I find it difficult to deal with imagine how others must find it...

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At 07:13 PM on 20 Jan 2007, Norah Murray wrote:

Dear Mr. Fry,
I thought your programme was amazing.It was genuine, so honest. When it ended I would have loved to have your telephone number and just call and say please please take your medication. I am 47 years old, diagnosed 17 years ago with manic depression.I take lithium, epilim, seroquel. Sometimes they leave me with side effects, but I know I have to weigh up everything.My quality of life I am certain is better for me to be on this medication. I have always admired you and your work. Please please take your medication!!!!

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At 11:22 AM on 26 Oct 2007, DIESEL wrote:

Like the clappers

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At 05:58 PM on 26 Oct 2007, HANNAH wrote:

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