On the Soapbox: Read At Your Own Risk!

I am seriously troubled. By so many things: The fact that my children have declared a moratorium on naps, despite my best wishes and hardcore fandom - the show My So Called Life will never return, restaurants continue to miss the memo that bread to cheese or dip ratio that they serve is severely off, but mostly I am troubled by Charlie Sheen. Not Charlie Sheen exactly, but the public's reaction to Charlie Sheen.

It's as if everyone is amazed and amused at his brain droppings. Here's the deal; he is sick. He has a disease. One that we know of: Addiction, and we can logically assume that Addiction has probably brought along some friends from the mental illness party (they like to travel in packs). We cannot apply rational thinking to his words and actions, because his words and actions are not rational. The public's reaction has done one thing, in my opinion, put a big fat neon exclamation point on the fact that addiction and mental illness are so misunderstood and stigmatized in our culture. It is not entertaining, it is sad. It is horribly and completely sad.

For those of us who have struggled with loved ones and family members with addiction and mental illness, who have had it rattle the foundation of our families like an earthquake, who have lost chapters of our lives to these diseases, Charlie Sheen is not entertaining. The "senseless" and "hilarious" things he is saying, the narcissistic and self righteous thoughts he is putting words to are indicative of a disease, and if it were cancer making him behave this way - we wouldn't be paying the same kind of attention to it. Because we don't believe that people give themselves cancer, but the stigma of addiction and mental illness is that it is the fault of the sick person.

I am not saying that Charlie Sheen hasn't made bad choices. I am saying that Charlie Sheen is sick with a disease, and that his bad choices opened a revolving door of choices feeding disease feeding choices feeding disease... And we are having a difficult time as a culture understanding how that works because we don't understand the disease. Instead of trying to understand the disease, everyone's huddled around the water cooler, or the dinner table, or in the gym locker room, or around the glow of their television hungry for the very last "crazy" thing that "crazy" Charlie Sheen said.

I'm afraid that we are missing a huge opportunity here. An opportunity to be educated about the disease of addiction, and the effect it has on the people whom it afflicts as well as the people in relationship with them. In my experience, one reason people don't make the attempt to understand addiction is because it forces each of us to confront the possibility that we too may have addictions; drugs, alcohol, food, attention, collecting, hoarding, etc. Whether Charlie Sheen decides to do the hard work of recovery and treatment, or continues to go down a path of destruction driven by the disease is not my business, and I find it in no way entertaining or hilarious when I hear the disease speaking through him. I am not amazed or fascinated by it. I am just plain sad.

So, I'm opting out of the conversation. Shutting off my TV when Charlie Sheen's "actions" make headline news. Changing the subject when someone tries to engage me with the latest Sheen-ism. I am making a choice - and I'd love for you to join me... if you feel it too...


  1. I agree. I find all the media coverage of Charlie Sheen upsetting. I don't know if he is biopolar or not, but boy that is what it sure looks like right now (I've witnessed a couple manic episodes in my lifetime) and that is not funny at all. It's sad. And scary. I hope he gets the help he needs. I feel so bad for his children.

  2. I couldn't agree more. It is just sad - all of it.

  3. I totally agree with you. I wish the spotlight would move on to someone doing something wonderful instead of watching the downward spiral of an ill person. Watching Charlie Sheen hit his "bottom" is a reality show I chose not to watch. Thank you for putting my thoughts into your words.

  4. Or even better, keep the TV off, period. I had no idea that anything was even going on with Charlie Sheen.

  5. I couldn't agree more. I am tired of it too.

    Anonymous, It's not just on TV. Its all over twitter, facebook, newspaper, magazines. You must live underneath a rock.

  6. i couldn't agree more. my husband made a comment last nite and i said. why is this surprising you. he has been in the headlines for years. and all the media does is pumps it up, so their wallets continue to be pumped up and in the meantime i can guarantee you that it isn't just an addiction, he has a chemical imbalance and there is a mental illness there.

    thank you for the words. to me it is all a sad portrait of celebrity and media. few talk about what is really going on.


  7. Oh, I am so with you. I was there last week and the week before. And it's all just from the radio! I disconnected my cable 5 years ago and dont watch regular TV because of all the crap that is on it. I just dont want to hear it and I dont want my children to grow up hearing it either.

  8. I agreed but wonder how you feel about how much they talk about it on my talk 107. That is all the media I usually get in a day besides MPR and I feel like it is all I am hearing about on that station.

  9. No one understands this position more than a person who has experienced the disease in person. I personally find Charlie Sheen to be a broken man, I feel that he is so used to his addiction it has become his norm -- even from a very young age.

    Having been confronted by alcoholism in my life, I am permanently and dramatically turned against anyone who can support drugs of any kind (which alcohol is). It affects my life greatly since I show no remorse for anyone promoting these poisons.

    Not only do these diseases affect the person they occupy, they affect all the people close to that person, even those who were driven away by it. So I not only feel concern for Charlie Sheen, but the people in his life. And the same goes for any person suffering an addiction.

  10. Thank you! I couldn't have said it better!!!

  11. im with you. i feel panicky when i see him on anything. (which is everything right now)
    i have been watching his show in syndication for some time and his appearance now is staggering. i have the same sense of urgency for him that i felt about anna nicole smith. i desparately want to scream at the top of my lungs, "somebody do something"
    i feel like watching any of that is being a part of his slow demise. wont do it.

  12. I'm with you. What is going on with Charlie is more than just him being self-absorbed, ego-tripping celebrity. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that he is very sick and how the world has reacted to him is really sad. I fear that he will not make it out of his addiction & mental illness alive.

  13. I agree with what has been said, but taking it a step further - Charlie Sheen is enjoying this so much. He is as addicted to the spotlight as he is to his "drug(s)" of choice. Like another Charlie (Manson) he says outrageous things because people will listen. I have deep pity and fear for the children. The twins mother is also an addict and these poor babies have no one sane in their lives? Charlie - do what you will, but don't take your children with you. Leave them out of it.

  14. Thank you for putting into words what so many of us are feeling! I totally agree.


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