Finding a balance: Scherer’s quest to cope with bipolar disorder

He would spend the remainder of the season in the facility, where he was diagnosed with manic depression and underwent electroshock therapy.

His struggles with bipolar disorder served as the basis for his autobiographical 1955 book “Fear Strikes Out” and the 1957 Hollywood movie of the same name in which Anthony Perkins starred as Piersall.

He once famously remarked, “Probably the best thing that ever happened to me was going nuts. Who ever heard of Jimmy Piersall until that happened?”

Roughly 3 percent of Americans are estimated to have bipolar disorder at some point in their life. Symptoms typically start to manifest in early adulthood and feature manic episodes as well as periods of depression.

According to Dr.

¬†Christopher Kennedy, chief of psychiatry at Leominster’s HealthAlliance Hospital, bipolar disorder patients also often have increased self-esteem,
decreased need for sleep, and impaired judgment.”Typically we think it takes more than the genetics to tip people into bipolar disorder, and that’s where the stress comes in,” Kennedy said. “A lot of times we think there are the cumulative stresses that can make someone even more prone.”While he admits that much of his own illness is inherited, Scherer points to his own volatile upbringing as the true cause. Following his grandparents’ divorce, Scherer’s grandmother was forced to raise nine children on her own. His own mother also struggled to raise Scherer and his two siblings after her own divorce.”I think the biggest struggle in this is that my grandfather did leave. The biggest thing in this whole story is that it kicked things off,” Scherer said.

However, Scherer had never spent much time questioning his mental health until his own diagnosis. To him, it was just how life was.

“I didn’t understand what mental illness was, I didn’t understand what my grandfather went through. I had seen the movie, I had read the book, I could most likely see some characteristics, see some of the same situations, but until you’re told you’re bipolar, until you’re told what this is, you just think you’re a bad kid,” he said.

After his suicide attempt, Scherer’s life remained chaotic and challenging.
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