In Peace of Mind with Taraji, Golden Globe Award-Winning Actress Taraji P. Henson and her best friend and co-host Tracie Jade shine a spotlight on the challenging mental health issues facing us today – particularly of those in the Black community.
Watch the episode: HERE
- Title: Are You Bipolar and Going Undiagnosed?
- Description: A gifted basketball player and daughter of a schizophrenic share their journeys with bipolar disorder from a young age and how it affects their daily lives.
Key statistics addressed in the episode:
- Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7million Americans – National Institute of Mental Health
- Bipolar Disorder is characterized by dramatic shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels that affect a person’s ability to carry out daily tasks. – National Institute of Mental Health
- Black Americans are less likely to be diagnosed and treated for bipolar disorder – Mental Health America
- Bipolar disorder is frequently inherited. Genetic factors account for approximately 80% of the cases – Black Dog Institute
- Sleep loss is the most common trigger of mood episodes in individuals with bipolar disorder – National Center for Biotechnology Information
- Grandiosity is a symptom of bipolar disorder during manic episodes. People experiencing grandiose delusions describe feelings of superiority and invulnerability – Verywell Mind
- Heritability for Schizophrenia is about 64% and for bipolar disorder 59%, with environment playing an important role. – National Institute of Health
Some highlights from the episode include:
- 00:44 – Taraji and Tracie discuss statistics of bipolar disorder and her personal experience with the illness through her father.
- Taraji: “It is estimated that 5.7 million Americans are living with bipolar disorder, which is also called manic depressive illness. I just think that once we have a proper pinpoint of what it is, then people can go ‘that sounds like something I can be suffering from’ and get help because what happens is, a lot of times people don’t accept, and they self-medicate.”
- Taraji: “I remember when my Dad was diagnosed with manic depression back in the day, there wasn’t a lot of research done about the illness, so manic depression was just a piece of what bipolarism is.”
- Tracie: “You’re right, there’s so many misconceptions around it, you don’t know what to call it, what does it look like?”
The episode’s first guest Iman is a 24-year-old college athlete who has been dealing with his bipolar disorder for two years. Growing up he had mood swings, but it wasn’t until he started struggling with anxiety and hallucinations, that he reached his breaking point. Iman is now facing his mental health challenge head on.
- 3:22 – Iman discusses with Taraji and Tracie the reaction to his diagnosis and his feelings of having no one to turn to
- Iman: “I was diagnosed when I was 22.”
- Tracie: “So what was your reaction?”
- Iman: “Denial, straight denial, I felt as if I was labelled as a problem child.”
- Taraji: “Did you tell anyone about your diagnosis?”
- Iman: “No”
- Taraji: “So why didn’t you tell anyone?”
- Iman: “I dunno, who am I going to go to?”
- Taraji: “Family? Friends?”
- Iman: “I was broken, I had nobody.”
- 5:21 – Iman discusses what he lost as a result of his bipolar disorder that encouraged him to seek help and where he is today
- Iman: “I lost D1 Football scholarships, then I lost another scholarship playing basketball in Montana and within weeks of me losing my scholarship, I was broken. I had nobody. But on this journey of healing that I am still on, one thing that has helped me on my path of growth is humility. Buddhism is something that I do practice, especially morally, the culture is beautiful…and today I am on pace to graduate.”
- 5:50 – Taraji speaks to the importance of Iman sharing his story today, especially for men in the Black community to hear.
- Taraji: “You lived to tell your story and you are helping so many people, because you know brothers, our Black men, we don’t talk about it, we deny it, we needed you to come on this show. My point is that the way you have embraced it, and the way you have accepted it, it is commendable, especially for a Black man, because Black men don’t deal with it.”
- Iman: “It is an everyday battle, and you’ve got to come with your A-game every day.”
- 7:00 – Iman and Taraji’s advice for people, especially young men, about the importance of showing up for your mental health and the power that comes from it
- Iman: “Believe in yourself, remember that, everything starts with you, everything that you do, you’ve got to have a purpose behind that.”
- Taraji: “You can’t control anything or anybody else, all you can control is you. That’s you taking your power, that’s you taking control of your power. As opposed to standing, fearing, hiding. You give up so much power hiding in fear.”
- 7:24 – Taraji discusses how she stops “the big bitch” on her back from holding her back
- Taraji: “See when you are transparent and you face the thing, sometimes I call it the ‘big bitch’ on my back, every morning telling me I’m not this, I’m not that, you ain’t going to be this, you can’t do that, and I turn around and look her dead in her face; because what happens is, if you hide, she will consume you. So, you need to face that big bitch and you have to look her in the eye, him, her, whoever – whatever you call that thing on your back – and face it. But that’s what you’re saying [gestures to Iman] you face it, because when you don’t it consumes you.”
- 9:30- Taraji speaks to the importance of men feeling their feelings and being vulnerable
- Taraji: “See men, it’s ok to feel, feeling means you are alive, it doesn’t mean that you are weak, we are humans, we should feel, this man has love in his heart, he has compassion, he has empathy, he has so much strength in his vulnerability. That’s where the strength lies Black people, being transparent, being honest with what is going on with you.”
Second guest Dianna was diagnosed with bipolar disorder over a decade ago, but she has learnt to live with her mental illness. After a tumultuous childhood, with a mother diagnosed with Schizophrenia, Dianna felt herself struggling with her own issues and then she lost her Mom and she had to drop out of college and take care of her two-year-old brother.
- 13:06 – Dianna reflects on some of the symptoms she experienced pre-diagnosis that would have led her to believe she had bipolar disorder
- Dianna: “I can kind of tell when I am getting rev’d up. Thoughts of grandeur, like I can’t get hurt, if I did this then I won’t die, and just thoughts of like I’m going to this party, I need to buy this dress, all these cameras on the freeway are taking pictures of me because I look beautiful, let me speed through all of these cameras and get all of these tickets and do all this, but I know the signs when it happens, I can feel for it, I can understand when it is coming.”
- 15:50 – Dianna on taking medication for her bipolar disorder after a bad experience
- Dianna: “Coming off of the pills you put in your body, it does something to you. It scared me so bad that I had no choice but to take the medication. I had no choice, I said, ‘This is going to kill me.’ I would rather take a chance on something that I’m unsure about then keep going down the road I’m going down because it’s not going to get any better, it’s just not.”
- 16:55 – Dianna on leaving school to take care of her brothers after her mother passed and what she would tell her
- Dianna: “My mom’s death was my trigger. I didn’t know it… I did what I had to do. I did what I needed to do because he needed me, and he didn’t have a mom anymore.”
- Tracie: “And you had to drop out because of it.”
- Taraji: “What would you say to your mom right now if you had the chance?”
- Dianna: “She didn’t take her medication because she said it made her tired. She was always asleep for most of my childhood cause she was trying to adjust.”
- Tracie: “Don’t forget you gave up your life to raise your little brother and you should be proud and she would be proud.”
- Taraji: “Whatever you feel you didn’t do or accept; you did by raising your little brother. So, release that guilt.“
- Dianna: “I would show her how to take her medication because I felt like I could’ve saved her life and I didn’t know.”
- Taraji: “The joy and the upside is you did what she couldn’t do and take care of you.”
- 19:58 – Taraji asks Dianna what she would tell someone facing bipolar disorder.
- Taraji: “What advice would you give to someone that’s where you were a few years ago?”
- Dianna: “Don’t be scared. Find out what you can. Talk to a doctor. Find out as much about it as you can. If they say you have to take something you may have to listen because it may save your life.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing depression and needs help, please visit dbsalliance.or or NAMI.org
In a crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text ‘NAMI’ to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741
On this Wednesday’s episode, Taraji and Tracie are joined by Dr. Dion Metzger who shares the biggest misconceptions surrounding bipolar disorder and what to look for if you think you or a loved one might have it.
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