Garrett Godwin: If you’re not bipolar, what do you define yourself as and why?
Ross McKenzie: I identify myself as an integrated mental health educator who enjoys embracing all that life has to offer. Our society has been programmed to believe from our traditional mental health paradigm those mental health symptoms, and all these alleged psychiatric disorders are life long permanent brain diseases that require lifelong drug treatment. The truth is, there are so many different reasons an individual can experience mental health challenges.
By choosing to take a journey to get to the root cause of symptoms, one can develop tools and strategies to heal permanently without having to resort to highly addictive psychotropic medications that are over-prescribed and causing a great deal more harm than good to the individual and society as a whole.
GG: In recent years, bipolar disorder has been used on daytime television – especially with Emmy-winning actor Maurice Benard (Sonny Corinthos, General Hospital), who is bipolar himself, as well as his character, and Sharon Case’s character on CBS’ The Young & the Restless (Y&R). (On The Queen Latifah Show, actress Rene Russo admits that she is bipolar) What is your response on that?
RM: I believe that mainstream media and television pushes the notion that these disorders like bipolar disorder are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain that must be diagnosed and treated with powerful and toxic brain damaging medications for life. Psychotropic medications were only intended to be very short-term solutions in extreme states.
It is critical that television, movies and mainstream media begin to educate that all mental health issues can be cured permanently with the correct therapies, support and integrated health team.
The story that has been told by psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry for the past 50-60 years regarding making great advances in diagnosis and drug treatment is simply not a true story. According to some of the most respected doctors and psychiatrists I have had the privilege to interview from around the world, this false story of making great advances in psychiatric medicine and treatment is causing an enormous amount of harm.
Due to this misinformation, it is imperative that people start to become their own best doctor and do research to make informed decisions that will serve their health and healing.
GG: Do you think the word ‘bipolar’ is the same thing as being stereotyped for playing a certain role, such as you’ll be forever known for playing James Bond, Superman, or Batman?
RM: The tragedy in medicine today is that there is zero science to psychiatry that has been claiming great advances with diagnosis and treatment. I believe that all mental health labels – in and out of themselves – can and do create additional trauma when the person is already in a vulnerable state.
Our traditional mental health system is completely dysfunctional. We must create new systems of support that take into account the whole person addressing the roots of mental health challenges rather than pushing these alleged diseases as life long illnesses that require years and decades of drug cocktails that only mask underlying symptoms and create life long addicts to these powerful medicines in the process.
GG: What are the literal ups and downs of having ‘bipolar disorder’, or is there such a thing at all?
RM: The symptoms of bipolar disorder and other psychiatric disorders are real. They can and do disrupt lives. When one chooses to look at addressing these symptoms from a mental, physical, emotional and spiritual perspective as gifts to be uncovered and discovered, then the doors to healing can open and the journey to full recovery can begin.
GG: What do you expect from people when they watch your documentary?
RM: My intention in producing Bipolarized was to create awareness regarding the blind spots and pitfalls currently plaguing our traditional mental health care system so that people can make more informed decisions when it comes to treating mental health challenges from a more integrated health perspective. Starting with a medication and using humans for testing is not the way good medicine is practiced.
GG: Did making this documentary was a process for you that was difficult, grueling, yet hopefully healing at the same time?
RM: Producing and staring in Bipolarized were labors of love and also an opportunity to offer education regarding the many ways individuals can begin to look at healing mental health symptoms without using psychotropic medications. I no longer live with a disease or disorder that psychiatrists said I would live with for the rest of my life. Like all human beings, I experience good days and challenging days. However, I now have the experience of feeling and accessing all of my emotions. This access to my emotions now affords me the foundation to thrive and continue my mission of starting a new dialogue of how we are addressing and treating the spectrum of difficult mental health symptoms.
GG: Now that you’re Bipolarized, what’s next for you?
RM: I am in the process of designing retreats, workshops and a wellness center in Costa Rica that will offer effective tools, treatments and therapies to facilitate individuals addressing and healing root cause symptoms of mental health challenges.
GG: When will Bipolarized air?
RM: Bipolarized will be airing nationwide across Canada on Saturday, November 1st at 8pm on Global. Our distribution company, The Video Project, based in San Francisco, is actively looking to secure other broadcast contracts in the USA and in other international markets.