David Granirer’s take on Stigma

David Granirer doing stand-up comedy about the stigma people with mental illness face.

The Bi Polar Buddha Set

Big Daddy Tazz performs at the CBC Winnipeg Comedy Festival’s “The Best Medicine” series in 2006.

Identity, mental illness and recovery

“Once I became my diagnosis, there was no one left to recover.”

Holy cow! This really captures something very important! It articulates what concerns me most about the rush to diagnosis for people in early recovery. It’s much less any intellectual concern, concern that a medication might be unhelpful or some concern about purity of addiction—it’s the black hole that this identity issue can easily become.

Remembering who we are isn’t as easy as it might sound. Once we receive a diagnosis, it often becomes the primary focus of our identity. It can become the lens that we see ourselves through. Our new label can overshadow the depth and breadth of who we are as people. To make matters worse, most of those around us started relating to us as though we’d turned into a diagnosis. They ask us about our medication and if we’re taking it; how we’re taking it; how we feel about taking it; how long we’ve taken it. They ask us what other medications we’ve taken; how long we’ve been ill; how many times we’ve been hospitalized, homeless, in jail, on drugs, and so on. In other words, those around us start seeing only the parts of us [...] continue the story

Dare To Be Happy

By Candy Czernicki June 27, 2011

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. ~ Frederick Douglass

Let’s get this out in the open: I am bipolar II. That means the mania is really low-key and infrequent and the depression, at least in my case, for most of my life, has been pretty much nonstop.

There are degrees of depression, of course. Mine gets severe relatively quickly and stays that way a relatively long time. Yes, I have been an inpatient at psychiatric hospitals. Yes, I have self-harmed. Yes, I have been on every psychotropic medication known to man, and failed most of them. The two that I’m on right now combine for one really annoying side effect.

I have even, since about New Year’s, been undergoing a course of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). My memory is shot, along with many other things, but the suggestion to do it came up in month 6 of an unrelenting depressive episode. Nothing else was working.

Despite all this, I’ve managed to push through as best I can. I’ve found work, and a work schedule, that works for me, as well as a compassionate employer.

It’s still hard, though, and most people still don’t understand. They tell me to snap out [...] continue the story

A Fly In the Ointment: A New Perspective on Addiction

By Nic Sheff October 26,2011

After years of speaking about addiction, a fascinating new study has radically altered my perception of this disease. It’s all about drunk flies.

It’s been four years since my memoir, Tweak—and my dad’s memoir, Beautiful Boy—were published in the same month. Shortly afterwards, the two of us went on a national book tour. Since then, we’ve traveled to hundreds of conventions and fundraisers and schools—sharing the hard lessons we’ve learned about addiction and recovery and…well…life in general.

That means we’ve had to listen to eachother’s experiences close to 50,000 times. And while our stories always evolve and shift slightly each time we recount them, for the most part they remain unchanged. Recently I’ve found myself daydreaming as I sat in the audience listening to my dad share his half of our tortured tale. To be honest, I’ve even started daydreaming while I’m sharing my own story. I mean, it’s the same thing, over and over and over again—the same stories, the same ideas, the same jokes, the same tears.

Once an addict is an addict, whether it’s a human being or a fly, getting high is the only thing that matters.

But last week, when we showed up for a speaking [...] continue the story