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Tiger Blood, Winning and Abusing the Mentally Ill

I don’t know what Charlie Sheen’s problem is. The pundits were saying that he was coming off of drugs, they mentioned a pink cloud, and then the doctors that are too busy talking on TV to see any patients diagnosed him Bi-Polar.

Along with all of America I was mesmerized and entertained by Sheen’s first rants. Simply saying winning to my husband would have the two of us giggling.

And then this morning we sat in his car listening to a replay of Sheen on Howard Stern and felt sad. His stacatto banter had little to do with reality. We know that our stars don’t experience the same reality that us working folk do. We know that at Sheen’s level they’re insulated from things like the price of milk, TSA security lines and buying clothing on sale. We forgive them for being out of touch, not knowing how to make a bed, forgetting to say please and thank you, and (in Sheen’s case) we forgive the battery of women.

To be fair maybe you do. I don’t.

A few years ago we watched Britney Spears unravel before our eyes, and when she shaved her head and started speaking in strange accents no one turned the cameras off. When her kids were traumatized images were snapped and sold. When the police took Sheen’s kids away it was time to roll tape. How did this become news? What part of of watching someone’s decline into disease is entertaining?

I cannot diagnose Sheen, but I see that he’s as ill as any mental patient you’d encounter at the hospital today. I couldn’t walk into a psych ward and start mocking the patients there, but for some reason 20/20 and the Today Show can.



13 thoughts on “Tiger Blood, Winning and Abusing the Mentally Ill”

  1. It is a celebrity culture. The homeless man at the corner isn’t as interesting as the man who makes millions. Not much different between watching gladiators fight to the death and this.

  2. Thank you for this post – I’ve been saying this since his first interview. Anyone who has had to live with or take care of someone who is mentally ill can recognize the signs immediately. I hope he gets some help – it’s a long time coming.

  3. My heart goes out to Charlie Sheen, his children, and actually anyone that is a member of his family & friends – because watching someone you love spiral out of control is horrifying. You feel helpless and angry and confused all at the same time. You also feel like there must be something you could do or say if only you had the chance… But there is no “one solution.”
    Still, there is a part of us that feels horror at watching while at the same time realizing it is in our nature to slow down and watch.
    If we didn’t have that in our nature? Tabloids would never have reached the level of success they have. Do I think we should turn off the camera – honestly? I don’t know. I would say when his kids are there? Yeah, quit with the exploitation. I don’t blame Brooke for getting those kids the heck out of there.

    1. I have no problem with people watching, I agree that is our nature. I have a problem with the ridicule and snickering usually done by people who think mental illness is something that you can use willpower to overcome.

      I can’t tell you how many times I have turned on the radio and heard something like ‘we have the latest Sheen interview and it is delicious’ or, ‘what a loony tune’ or ‘he’s a hero because he speaks the truth’. Charlie Sheen’s delusions happen to be supported by those in his industry and have up to this point been rewarded by money. The same kind of delusions exist in the mentally ill population but those not on TV end up hospitalized or in jail.

      1. One of the hazards of being successful financially is the number of people who will tell you that you’re just fine, it’s everyone else who has the problems, because they are wanting a free ride financially and are willing to say anything if it keeps the party going.

        The very recent report of Martin Sheen trying to reach out to his son is heart wrenching.

  4. I’ve being watching and admittedly enjoying the interviews and clips of Sheen that have been circulating. I do feel bad when the children are involved and feel like that is not entertaining and off limits, but I don’t feel like I or other are necessarily mocking him. I recognize the mental illness but at the same time I don’t feel like thoughts or ideas from someone in a manic or depressed state aren’t of value. He is obviously very intelligent and I like the upbeat (if not crazed) view he has on himself and his life. He clearly has issues with violence that are probably wrapped up in the illness as well and I certainly don’t condone those things. I just don’t like the idea of the media or society deciding to cut someone off because they have a mental illness. It’s a shitty equality but it’s equality none the less.

  5. his first interview on the Today show was enough for me…perhaps it was too much as I was dealing with family stuff more than usual since my grandmother passed away last Monday. My mother is bipolar and is untreated by her choice. she is also not actively involved in the lives of her surviving children and grandchildren because of her choice to remain untreated. The conversation I had with her Tuesday, when I was finally ably to track her down to inform her of her mother’s passing was not unlike Charlie Sheen’s first interview. Her manic tirades about her mother only reminded me why I have chosen, for better or for worse, not to allow her to be a part of my children’s lives. I’m not saying that Mr. Sheen is bipolar. I am far from qualified to even attempt to diagnose what his problem is. I just know that for me his very public rants were just too much like home for me so I turned off the tv and the radio and listened to and sang along with some of my grandmother’s favorite music.

  6. I still can’t believe how many people are hanging off his every word.
    He’s obviously had a rather severe split from reality – and if he is BP that would help explain the drug use as self-medicating.
    Either the man is mentally ill, brain damaged from the drugs, or the whole thing is an elaborate ruse to promote some upcoming show or movie (I doubt it) – either way, people should just feel bad for being so caught up in it and egging him on.

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