Speaker shares insights on bipolar disorder
Published: Thursday, October 20, 2011
Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2011 15:10
In the not too distant past, it was taboo to admit to having a mental illness, but more recently with better treatments and more definitive diagnoses, mental health issues have become less stigmatized and more openly discussed.
A nationally known comedian, now turned speaker and author, not only addressed but joked about mental illness, sharing his own experiences with the audience.
Paul E. Jones, also known as "Bipolar Boy", spoke at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 in the main gym of the Dennis Perryman Athletic Complex at Garden City Community College. The presentation was sponsored by the GCCC Student Government Association.
A nationally-touring comic headliner for 17 years, Jones sensed that something had been wrong with himself for a long time. In hindsight, he remembers being on the road as a standup comic and crying in his car during many cross country trips. He would take the stage and perform, and then sink back into helpless depression. His illness would also have its manic phases according to Jones who admitted he was reluctant to go to a doctor because of the stigma associated with seeking mental help.
Finally, after nearly pushing his family out of his life, he sought help and was diagnosed, at age 36, with bipolar disorder. After finding the right medication, he righted his life and became passionate about educating people on mental illness and bipolar disorder in particular.
Jones shared personal insights into his experience with depression and bipolar disorder, sprinkling humor into what would seem to be a completely humorless topic. His mission is to help others relate to friends and family who suffer from mental illness, as well as to help those with mental illnesses accept their diagnoses and participate actively in their own recovery.
Jones has written a number of books including "Dear World – a Suicide Letter", "Life After Suicide: A Bipolar Journey", "A Bipolar Discussion: From the Inside Looking In" and "My Five Keys to Living With Bipolar Disorder."