Ur Place

April 18, 2008

The delicate line between genius and madness

Filed under: Lifestyle — halfevil @ 10:35 am

WHERE do you draw the fine line between brilliance and madness? That is the question raised by hotshot television producer Adam Boland, who has spoken for the first time about his diagnosis with bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is the mental illness characterised by huge swings in mood and energy levels.

“When you’re on a high, you feel you can do anything,” says Boland, 32, director of morning television at the Seven Network. “Things that would normally take a week get done in an hour. There’s no stopping you. It’s an exciting state to be in.”

Boland has been a key player in propelling Seven to number one in the ratings and is widely regarded as Australia’s most talented young TV executive. In an interview to be published in Good Weekend tomorrow, he talks not only about the disorder, formerly known as manic depression, but his decision to stop taking mood-stabilising drugs.

“The question of medication is a really tricky one,” he said yesterday. “It makes you normal, and while that shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing, I have an issue with just being normal.”

Essentially, Boland believes the drugs blunt his creative edge.

He now has counselling instead of taking tablets and accepts that, along with the highs, he is subject to bouts of debilitating depression. “You have to trade off the downside because the upside is so good.”

Boland’s illness was diagnosed by Professor Gordon Parker, executive director of the Black Dog Institute, who estimates that about 600,000 Australians have bipolar disorder. According to Professor Parker, it is more common in high achievers than in the rest of the population.

This week, both NSW Treasurer Michael Costa and rugby league star Tim Smith revealed that they have the disorder.

For most people diagnosed with the condition, medication is the best option, Professor Parker says. “There will be a drug or drugs that will work for you. It’s a suck-it-and-see process.”

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