Musician Rejects Treatment For Bipolar Mental Illness

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To anyone who has grown up in a US suburb during the 1990’s, the Stone Temple Pilots is a household name. This rock group is well-known to many music enthusiasts in the UK, as well. What many fans don’t know is that Stone Temple Pilots lead singer Scott Weiland sufferers from bipolar mental illness.

Somewhere during the middle of his band’s success, Scott Weiland had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, aka manic-depressive disorder. What is the nature of this disorder? It is characterized by long-lasting, severe mood swings, which overtake the sufferer seemingly without any external provocation. A bipolar manic-depressive like Weiland may spend days or weeks lying in bed, watching television, and feeling suicidal. For many sufferers, productivity comes to a halt during depressive episodes; so do ordinary human activities such as eating and sex. Seemingly, nothing can lift that gloomy weight from the shoulders of a bipolar person in a depressed funk.

However, within a week or a few days, that person is running around, not sleeping, moving from one frenzied activity to the next. This phase of bipolar mental illness is known as “mania.” The person experiencing bipolar mania feels like he or she can do no wrong. Reportedly, the closest that those who don’t have bipolar disorder can approach to this feeling of mania is by taking an illegal drug known as Ecstasy (which is illegal, dangerous, can result in years of jail time, and not recommended under any circumstances). Alas, that feeling of invisibility wears off all-too-soon, and the bipolar sufferer is back in the land of depression.

A person with bipolar disorder is the helpless puppet of his or her emotions. So, why would someone like Scott Weiland not want to seek treatment for this condition?

The answer is that many creative types do not want to lower the intensity of their emotions, regardless of those emotions’ harmful effects. If you work at the bank or at the office, bipolar mental illness won’t serve you well. No one wants an investment banker who’s liable to invest all his company’s capital in, for example, the company that makes Segway scooters just because he’s suddenly excited about those weird little scooters and he’s in a manic phase and feels he can do no wrong.

However, if you’re a musician, wild mood swings just might serve you well and contribute to your success. A good musician suffering from bipolar disorder can plumb depths of his own depression to produce tortuously beautiful lyrics and imagery. For example, consider the Stone Temple Pilots song “Vaseline,” and its accompanying video, which shows the band members dressed as melancholy Edwardian dandies. Plus, a good musician can take advantage of a manic episode to deliver a truly inspired concert performance. Perhaps that is why Scott Weiland rejected treatment for his mental illness. Perhaps he chose his art over his own mental well-being.

Learn how I beat Depression


  1. Tony
    Posted August 9, 2009 at 3:18 am | Permalink

    Enjoyed your blog, but you do give a somewhat stereotypical description of this disorder. You have bipolar I, bipolar II, rapid cycling etc. Bipolar comes in different degrees. It’s also a common mistake that there are only “highs” and “lows”; there are episodes of normality in between – these episodes could last months. Which makes bipolar hard to diagnose. This btw sets out bipolar from other (personality) disorders, where mood swings are more common and frequent.

    Just my two cents.

  2. Clarrissa
    Posted February 27, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Permalink


    I read your post. I too am a professional singer with bipolar disorder. I have been looking for a way of providing a place where musicians can discuss their struggle with this disorder and the implications of medication etc for some time. I am in the process of authoring a website that gives information about the alternatives to western medicines and actually discusses the nitty gritty about what else is on offer. Perhaps one of the hardest things to explain to GPs and psychiatrists (because they are obsessed with medication) is that you aren’t the same sort of patient as a banker, or a teacher, or a shop-worker (no offence intended). But no matter what you tell them, the fact that you actually need to feel to do your job doesn’t make any difference. They just want you to wear the same sized tshirt as everyone else and to stop complaining about the side effects of the medicines they want you to take. As far as they are concerned, this is what works, and there is no other way that they give credence to.

    I would really like to know if you have any interest in visiting my site – perhaps we could swap emails, and I can post a message to you when it’s done?



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