Sinead O’Connor Announces:
“I’m Not Bipolar . . . I Should Never Have Been Medicated”

Kermit Cole
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Singer Sinead O’Connor announced on her website that after several “second opinions” she has learned “I do not in fact suffer from Bi Polar disorder and never did . . . and should never have been put on the medication . . . They are extremely debilitating drugs. Tiring to the extreme. Ironically, extremely depressing. They can cause suicidal or self-harm type thinking.” O’Connor said, in an interview in the Irish Mirror, “I’m delighted to be able to say that after ten years of poisoning myself with these drugs and having to live with the extremely difficult side-effects of them I can shortly begin the very, very slow indeed, process of getting them out of my system and my life and getting my life back.”

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Of further interest:
Doctors tell Sinead O’Connor: ‘You’re not bipolar’ (Irish Mirror)
British mental health charities slam Miley Cyrus for mocking bi-polar Sinead O’Connor (The Independent)
‘People are scared of me because I’m bipolar. It’s wounding… and a bit depressing’: Inside the head of Sinead O’Connor (Mail)

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]

16 COMMENTS

  1. Well, I wish her luck. This story just shows how bizarre the whole diagnosing thing is. She’s getting a second (and third) opinion of ….. an opinion. The latter two opinions, no matter how welcomed she finds them, are no more scientific than the first one. While I hope that she succeeds in withdrawing from the drugs, just because she now thinks there was no basis for the original diagnosis, doesn’t mean that there will not be times in her withdrawal process when she questions her sanity and re-examines the validity of the opinions. Perhaps she will stop taking other people’s word for it and learn to trust herself more. In mental health, the diagnosing and the drugs really heap on layers of complexity. Maybe the time has come to revive the term, manic-depression, simply because there were very few manic-depressives in comparison to today’s many “bipolars.” This is an unscientific, but potentially easy way of bringing down the numbers.

  2. Hi folks,

    I want to offer a warm reminder that this is not a place to diagnose or come to conclusions about other peoples’ experience for them. We believe in allowing folks to speak for themselves and avoiding personal attacks or judgments about their character. Please feel free to talk about your own personal experiences, aspirations, musings, and general thoughts in reaction to Ms. O’Connor’s statements.

    This is not a clinical forum. Any comments that asserts conclusions about her character or authority about what she “needs” are not welcome here. I imagine that few, if any, of us would welcome such statements from strangers on the internet upon sharing our own story.

  3. I made a decision long ago (based on working in a general hospital, in addition to watching what has happened to friends) to vet any diagnose and/or treatment given to me by any medical provider. We have a gift in the internet; even though it can lead you in the wrong direction sometimes, and if not used with caution, dangerous, it still can be very beneficial if used judiciously. I read a quote somewhere that doctors have hundreds of patients and you only have one. Physcians are the experts, yet ultimately it is your responsibilty for your own health.

    • Frankly, I’m the only expert on my own life and health. Any physician will have to take a back seat to me if they want to be of help. They may have the medical training and knowledge but only I know what things feel like and what I most likely need. I won’t let any psychiatrist near me and very few medical doctors get the privilege of treating me. Call me arrogant if you will but so be it.

      • I wouldn’t call you arrogant. Maybe expert is not the correct word, yet I think I would do myself a disservice if I did not consult with those trained in medicine. Doctors are another resource for us, even if they only show us what not to do, and some of them are very good at what they do. Note that this is written by someone that has to beat off antidepressant Rx’s with a stick. It is all they want to give me even after multiple psychologists say I am not depressed.

  4. Let’s be clear: not only in psychiatry, but in other areas of medicine, doctors are the new “priests”. They have the God-like social status that previously clerics had. They also manage a big chunk of the country’s finances (17% of the nation’s GDP), just as monks did during the Middle Ages in Europe. The so called “Old Order” had kings/queens, aristocrats and clerics. In our current order, doctors, especially psychiatrists, play the same role in society as clerics did back then.

    I am not by any means anti MD degree holders (although I am certainly anti psychiatry) but I do think that doctors are granted an unwarranted social status, and power, by our current society. The notion that a guy who has an MD degree -ie a psychiatrist- is given the legal authority to ruin as many lives as he/she wishes to is appalling.

  5. But no one ever suggested she go to therapy? She said something traumatic happened to her that she never dealt with, and pills are supposed to help?! Maybe they’re still doing some outdated psychoanalysis in Ireland, but why not some good, evidence based weekly therapy with someone monitoring any side effects of any meds she might be on?

    • Good questions. However, in my area of the country it’s almost imossible to get any talk therapy if you’re relying on the mental health system for help. Of course, if you have lots of money there are those therapists in private practice who will see you but if you don’t have money it’s almost an impossibility to get anything. It took me fighting the system for almost seven weeks before I was able to receive six sessions of talk therapy. It’s amazing.

      • I forgot to mention that they were very willing to give me “medication” almost at the very beginning of my quest to get talk therapy. All they wanted to do was give me the toxic drugs! When I was screened by the psychiatrist she told me that she could give me a prescription for “meds” and I told her that I didn’t want the damned drugs! She got this confused look on her face and then she told me that she didn’t know what else she cold do for me. I yelled, “just state that I should get a therapist in this damned system!” When they fnally did assign me a therapist I could only have six sessions. It truly is shameful. The system does everything it can to NOT help people.

    • That was my thought. In reading what she wrote, I wondered where she could talk about those unresolved experiences, obviously still distressing her.

      It must be extremely difficult to be in the public eye, sliced and diced by media (and others) while trying to sort through experiences that involve psychotropics. A diagnosis and human test tube experiments are hard enough for someone who can deal with it privately.

  6. The link to the article isn’t working but when I read it earlier in the week I think she said that she was having a hard time, had gone to her GP who phoned another professional who diagnosed her with bipolar over the phone due to what he knew of her.

    Presumably he knew this from her media image.

    This is appalling, but is it any more appalling than what regularly happens in psychiatric consulting rooms?

  7. I hope she is going to be OK. I tried wishing my mental illness wasn’t there. I am bipolar. Usually don’t tell people because of the stigma attached to having a mental health problem. My bipolar has seen me hospitalized 3 times. Substance abuse issues and a suicide attempt. Therefore I no longer see the psychiatrist as the enemy. From my experience most critics of treating mental illness with med’s have either never experienced it themselves or have not yet been truly totally humbled by it. Mental health problems can really mess you up badly. I read that jean Claude van damme went on sodium valproate and described it as the waters that were raging around him became calm. That has certainly been my experience. Whenever I turned my back on the doc, and I did often because I held similar views as posted above , I would end up back on street drugs. Now this way I Don, t need to anymore.
    the psychiatrist is not part of a conspiracy. He is only trying to help.

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