Actress Mädchen Amick on Son’s Bipolar Dysfunction

Remove the “Hollywood glamor” and what remains is someone who asks a mother to explain how easy a bipolar diagnosis must have been for her and her child because of her celebrity.

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I recently caught up with the Twin Peaks and Riverdale star on the Inside Mental Health podcast to share their family’s experience with bipolar disorder.

By the time the adult son of the actress girl Amick was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she was already a famous actress. In contrast, when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, my mother was, well, not.

Amick has a long television career that began when director David Lynch selected her to play the waitress Shelly Johnson on the now legendary television series “Twin Peaks”. In contrast, my mother had a long career as a receptionist for a national weight loss company.

My family has no connection with Hollywood. We don’t have any money, resources or fans. We have never contributed to the zeitgeist. We’re the exact opposite of Amick’s family in many ways.

But our families – like many others – tell parallel stories about the effects of a family member living with bipolar disorder.

“… every time I refused this narrative because I assumed its version would be simpler. Or better. Or less scary. Because I thought about it in my head, they are rich and famous. “

Her son, Sylvester “Sly” Time Amick-Alexis, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 1 while studying at university in 2011 when he was around 20 years old.

I learned that the family had difficulty getting him to the hospital during episodes of mania.

Amick says: “… treatment centers are not equipped to deal with mania. I mean, he goes in and out of treatment centers and crisis centers. They would pick him up and kick him out a week later. They didn’t understand the mania, they didn’t understand how to deal with it and how to deal with it. “

She says the family tried hard to understand what happened. Every article I read about the Amick Alexis family to prepare for the podcast was filled with stories pretty similar to my family.

And each time I refused this narrative, assuming its version was simpler. Or better. Or less scary. Because I was thinking in my head, they are rich and famous.

When the interview started I was a fanboy trying to stay professional. I wanted to ask her about “Twin Peaks”. I wanted to tell her that 16 year old Gabe had a crush on her. I wanted to ask her what it’s like to be part of such a cult classic.

But instead, I went on to a series of questions like fame, fortune, Hollywood, whatever must have helped treat her son’s bipolar disorder. I didn’t really ask, I practically insisted on it. I wanted her to tell me how much easier it was for her and her family.

If I listen to the episode again now, I flinch.

She didn’t resist. Amick was neither reluctant nor positioned herself as “the heroine”. She remained open about the process of a family learning how to accept the disease, talking about it to others, and finding ways to best support Sly in authentic ways.

I have unwittingly tried to divide their experiences in the same way that my own have done with those outside looking in. Ouch.

I’m sure that’s not what the Amick-Alexis family meant when they named their nonprofit, don’t get me. Spoilers: The Girls, Husband David, Daughter Mina, and Son Sly Foundation is dedicated to providing empathy and resources for other families seeking mental treatment.

A working mother looking for treatment that provides support

Unlike an actress and director known for getting attention and being the center of attention, she spoke transparently like any other mother who comes in the supporting role and deviates from the script so her son can thrive.

As the interview went on, I stopped seeing Amick as the great badass she plays on TV and started seeing her as my mom. She spoke of being afraid, treatment options out of reach, and the disbelief and confusion that came with it.

At one point I thought to myself, “Wow, this woman’s story is like all the stories I hear from parents on a daily basis.” And why not? Amick is a mother with a career that is atypical, but that is exactly – a career.

I struggle with the idea that a mental health diagnosis affects everyone equally. I know I’m fine because, thanks to the financial resources I need, I have access to doctors, treatment and top-quality care.

Wealthy or wealthy, from a famous family or the average Jones, life prior to being diagnosed with bipolar disorder can be blind, confusing, and unpredictable – life afterward can be informed, endowed … and unpredictable.

At one point I thought to myself, “Wow, this woman’s story is like all the stories I hear from parents on a daily basis.” And why not? Amick is a mother with a career that is atypical, but that is exactly – a career.

It seems that no matter how much a person has bipolar disorder, it is terrifying. Amick is in the trenches with people like my mother fighting and fighting for their children.

In a way, it sounds like a perfect formula for a movie that Amick could star in. The rejection, the drama, the setbacks and the fear. It sounds like Hollywood.

Except that it happens in real life. And Amick doesn’t play a character, she’s a mother.

When I hear about Amick-Alexis’ family journey, it is a silver lining to realize that I have finally fulfilled my childhood dream. My mom is absolutely as cool as the glamorous Hollywood actress who captivated teenage Gabe.

Would you like to learn more from Mädchen Amick? Click the player below or visit the official episode page for the episode “Celebrity Mom, Son With Bipolar: Twin Peaks Girl Amick Opens” Inside Mental Health Podcast Episode.

Gabe Howard

Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and public speaker living with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book “Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations,” which is available on Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from the author.

Gabe is the host of Healthline Media’s weekly podcast, “Inside Mental Health”. Here you can listen and learn more.

Gabe can be found online at

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