Last night was the 2 hour season finale of one of my favorite shows “Black Box.” The star of this show is Dr. Catherine Black, a famous neurologist that has bipolar disorder that none of her colleagues knows about and only a very few her family members know about. Her mother also had bipolar disorder and took her own life when Catherine was 16. Since that time her own bipolar disorder developed and she has many secrets. She is brilliant, a perfectionist, driven and very good at her job. But no one she works with knows about her illness because…guess what? She knows it will hurt her career.
She is on medication and has been seeing the same psychiatrist since she was 16 and most of the time functions very well. But once in a while she goes off of her medications and she goes into a manic state. Sometimes she thinks when she is off her meds and manic that she does her best work. She does think up brilliant things during that time but she is also very destructive to herself and sometimes becomes suicidal.
The show, to me, is riveting. She works with cases of people that have some problems with their brain and manifests all kinds of unusual problems. She is very caring and understanding to her patients because she knows how they feel. It’s not only her situation that is interesting, but the diseases she works with.
Why do I torture myself with this show, you may ask? I have never watched another episode of House (one of Kaitlyn’s favorite shows) or Gray’s Anatomy. I simply can’t watch these shows anymore. I haven’t even tried, I don’t want to. But I watch Black Box because it shows a brilliant doctor that is doing the best she can in her profession along with dealing with her illness. This series does not glamorize mental illness (can that even be done?) but it does make one contemplate the mysteries of the brain, how people can be so brilliant but yet so ill all at the same time. That is something I now have a particular interest in because of what happened to my daughter. I don’t know whether Kaitlyn was bipolar or not. If she was she miraculously kept all that from me and I never saw any manic episodes in her. For that matter, I never saw any depression in her either. She said in her note that she was depressed. Both bipolar disorder and depression can be potentially deadly diseases due to the high incidence of suicide and suicide ideation.
Since Kaitlyn’s suicide I have been in communication with many mothers of brilliant, goal oriented, highly functional children that have taken their own lives. They have left this world in a variety of ways and I won’t say here the ways, but they were every way you can imagine or have ever heard of. What is it inside of their brain that makes them so very promising and brilliant but also makes them want to die? I know mental illness is not just occurring in the brilliant, it can happen to anyone no matter their intelligence, status, upbringing, race, gender, etc. But does the same thing that creates such intelligence in people also excite the part of the brain that causes them to want to end their life; causes them to be so deeply depressed? I will be so glad when we understand the brain better. Then there will be hope for people with mental illness. More hope than what we have now.
Some reviewers online think this series is poo.