Mindy McCready Suicide Creates Celebrity Rehab, Dr. Drew Backlash on Twitter

Image Courtesy of VH1

Image Courtesy of VH1

It’s been awhile. I’ve been pre-occupied with various projects– the latest of which is my first documentary film, “Because Of Xena.” But last night was different; last night I was pre-occupied with the news of Mindy McCready’s suicide, and the (mostly negative) reactions blowing up the Twitterverse.

Here’s the kicker–the reactions weren’t aimed at the troubled country star herself. The outpouring of negative reactions were aimed at Celebrity Rehab addiction specialist, Dr. Drew Pinsky.

I’ll admit, when I first heard of the tragic news, I retweeted the breaking news article with these words: “Another of @drdrew patients gone.” My intentions were not meant to be malicious however– not like the thousands of tweets which followed.

Here are just a few of  those tweets.

McCready Tweet


Dr. Drew has since been compared to Dr. Kevorkian.

The unflattering comparison was reported by Perez Hilton some 10 hours ago via washed up musician, Richard Marx. Hilton’s opening statement, “Whoa. This might be a bit harsh,” is 100% accurate. The slew of hateful comments directed at Dr. Drew, along with Marx’s Kevorkian comparison, are grossly unjust. The aforementioned accusations only prove how seriously uneducated society is when it comes to mental illness and drug addiction. It is because of this that stigma continues to linger in the 21st century.

What of those who are not celebrities? I hate to break it to you, but there are thousands of faces in the crowd suffering in silence.

Here are a few facts from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention— for those of you so inclined to learn.

  • Every 13.7 minutes someone in the United States dies by suicide.
  • Nearly 1,000,000 people make a suicide attempt every year.
  • 90% of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable and treatable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.
  • Most people with mental illness do not die by suicide. (I.e. Accidental Overdose)
  • Recent data puts yearly medical costs for suicide at nearly $100 million (2005).
  • Men are nearly 4 times more likely to die by suicide than women. Women attempt suicide 3 times as often as men.

Now here’s a sad truth: It wouldn’t have mattered whether it was Dr. Drew, Carl Jung, or Freud himself who treated Mindy McCready. The patient must be held accountable for their own actions. They must choose to continue treatment and follow doctors orders. Does this mean they will? Certainly not. That’s the price of mental illness itself and the stigma which follows behind it.


Depression and Mood Disorders in Youth: Study Reveals Increase

Fox News, a cable news channel known for being  right-wing biased, while desperately clinging to their “fair and balanced” marketing ploy, took a step in the right direction when they interviewed their psychiatric correspondent, Dr. Keith Ablow early last week.

Dr. Ablow’s segment focused on a study that was released on Monday, January 11th, (2010) in relation to the sizeable increase of mental illnesses found in today’s youth.

The study, lead by San Diego State University psychology professor Jean  Twenge, and involving five other researchers from various universities, found that five times as many high school and college students are dealing with mental health issues than youth of the same age studied in the Great Depression era.

Dr. Twenge and her fellow researchers examined the responses of over 77,500 high school and college students from the years 1938 to 2007, who took the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Iventory test, (MMPI)  a test that is frequently used by mental health professionals to diagnose personality structures and psychopathology.

Along with an increase in depression, Dr. Twenge and company found, not surprisingly, that there was a six percent increase in mood, personality, and anxiety disorders- one percent more than the five percent overall average  increase on the test.

So, just what do these professionals think has caused such an increase in mental health issues? Dr. Twenge has already published a book titled, “Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled- and More Miserable Than Ever Before,” which puts emphasis on the influence pop culture’s pressures have put on young people. Pressures such as wealth, status, and flawless beauty- just to name a few. But Dr. Twenge also notes the rise in divorce among parents and the number of infamous “stage parents” who create unrealistic expectations for their children, which in turn can cause instability, disappointment, grandiosity, anxiety, and a lack of coping skills.

Dr. Ablow, however, places the blame solely on “our young people, who are drugging themselves by the tens of millions every single day with a combination of celebrity worship, dreams of unlimited wealth, and handy ways to stay away from anything like reality. They’re losing their ability to process genuine emotion, diving into a Web of Facebook, YouTube, trophies for everything, iPhones, e-mail and Twitter.”

I can certainly see some of the reasoning behind these allegations, but Dr. Ablow in particular, is leaving out some truly critical factors. Genetics and environment often play a major role in ones propensity to inherit a mental illness. Most of the mental health consumers I’ve associated with have been victims of abusive home environments, whether they’ve been physically or emotionally abused, neglected, or watched their parents violent behavior towards one another. Others still, have been victims of some form of sexual abuse. And some have had a long history of mental illness in their family, or a combination of all of the above.

Whatever the conclusion is, it’s clear that our country needs to put some serious accentuation on mental health and its research, or as Dr. Ablow says, “losing this battle will devastate more than one generation and cost us trillions.”

Celebrity Impact

Eliza Dushku-Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Dollhouse

Eliza Dushku-Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Dollhouse
Alyssa Milano-Most well known for her role as Phoebe in Charmed.

Alyssa Milano-Most well known for her role as Phoebe in Charmed.

Drew Barrymore- Actress and writer of the bio "Little Girl Lost"

Drew Barrymore- Actress and writer of the bio "Little Girl Lost"

When I was a little girl my dream was to become a singer, (what little girl doesn’t dream about that) but as I got older I knew that my destiny was to become an actress. There were several reasons why I had to choose this profession. I loved the movies; dramas, bios, psychological thrillers, horror,  dark comedies, cult classics, and action/crime movies caught my eye most- specifically if they empowered women.

Whether they were b-listers, box office hits, or box office flops, didn’t matter much to me as long as the acting  and plot in the movie was enticing. The idea of stepping outside of your own life in order to assume another’s identity was, in a sense, the perfect scenario for me. I thought, “Hey, I can do this, I have a “special gift” that produces empathetic responses. I can tap into my emotions the way many others cannot because I have the ability to “flashback” to occurrences in my life that are less than appealing.”

Drew Barrymore was my first inspiration. Other than E.T., I’d first seen her in the movie Doppleganger, a b-list psychological thriller with an amazingly twisted plot. After that, I just knew I had to see more of her films. I had to learn more about her, as both a person and an actress. Here’s where fate steps in…(circa 1993) As I was perusing the actor/actresses book of films at Blockbuster Video, the clerk at the counter took notice, we then began to discuss Drew Barrymore and somehow that conversation turned personal. After talking to me for 30 minutes and noting how much I looked like Drew, she offered me her auto-biography, “Little Girl Lost.” I couldn’t believe she was just willing to hand it over, she didn’t even know me, not really.

As it turned out, we had much more in common than just looks, and I began to admire her for more than her acting abilities. Two years later, her auto-biography would become my “higher power” so to speak, something you are encouraged to have in NA/AA. (It doesn’t always have to be God, despite what most people believe, that’s not the core of their teaching- anything that can be used as an inspiration can be used as a higher power.) If she could make it out on top fairly alone, than I could too;  as far as acting is concerned, Drew Barrymore was once quoted saying something to this effect, “You almost have to be a little crazy to be a good actor/actress.”

(*NOTE- I have been diagnosed in the past with both bi-polar and BPD. It’s still up for debate after nearly 20 years, not surprisingly, because many of the symptoms are similar and often co-exist together.)

The idea of becoming an actress, that bright bulb that once shone so clearly in my mind, eventually became obsolete. After having been thrust into the world of modeling briefly and taking an acting workshop, (circa 1997) I realized that the very same reasons I wanted to become an actress were also good reasons not to be. Aside from the aforementioned disorders, I also had a panic disorder. Me+limelight+panic disorder+ a past with drug addiction+paparazzi=disaster. I honestly believe I would have become a complete headcase-But, being an artist of all trades, I knew I still wanted to be a part of the entertainment industry, so I took on photography and then writing, which would allow me to remain a part of it all from behind the scenes.

I still adore movies, but I’ve always been more attracted to actresses who rebel against Hollywood’s standards in relation to the “elite,” as well as the actresses who are not only fan friendly, but who use their celebrity status as a tool to fight against all the injustices in the world today. People listen when you have power, it may not be right, but it is what it is. More celebrities need to use their power to speak out on the important issues facing the world today, rather than worrying about how it may affect their careers. 

Hollywood has certainly seen it’s share of celebutaunte faux pas, (Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Courtney Love, Drew Barrymore-the list goes on and on) and they’re still standing, as famous as ever. Really, it’s far less risky to speak out on intolerance.

My Faith Renewed

Since tweeting on Twitter I’ve regained some of the admiration I’d lost among the Hollywood elite. Alyssa Milano is arguably the most active twitterer with her fans. That is something to be revered for, truly. Eliza Dushku is also in this category, and both of these gorgeous celebutantes spoke out about the heinous decision made in California regarding prop 8. Eliza even attended the rally! Talk about being humble and real.

Ladies, keep rocking with your bad selves-  To all you other celebrities out there- (barring a few I may have forgotten to mention) You should really follow their lead, you may be surprised by the results you get.