Bipolar Disorder Spotlight

Last night, I heard the LA County Coroners’ Office ruled Canadian visitor Elisa Lam’s death an accident. If you don’t remember, earlier this year (January?), LAPD had put a missing person’s alert for her, and she was eventually found in one of the water tanks on the roof of the hotel she was staying downtown a couple of weeks later.

The Coroner’s announcement stated that Lam’s bipolar disorder was a contributing factor. And it reminded me … during the time they were looking for her, they released a strange video of her in the elevator:

Might this be what is happening during a bipolar episode? This video got a lot of looks and conspiracy theories, and was covered widely in the media at the time – even internationally, especially in China.

To be clear, bipolar disorder is marked by periods of mania followed by periods of agonizing depression. Patients live on such extremes, one or the other. As a psychiatric illness, they would be given drugs by a psychiatrist, and maybe undergo therapy with a psychologist as well.

Periods of mania would be marked by having lots of energy, not being able to sleep, and maybe having limited control. And depression would be like not wanting to do anything, or worse, wanting to harm yourself.

In my search to find the video link above, I found a blog posting from February that someone quotes Lam’s blog while she was on her trip. It shows that she can’t sleep. She’s doing spontaneous, “risky” things. It looks like she was in a manic phase during her time in California. Is that what we’re seeing in the video? Was she just so curious, out of control, to go to the roof and look (or go) into the water tanks?

It’s just a thought in my mind as I thought of something to write this week…



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