American electropop band Passion Pit was forced to cancel a number of performances last month. In a message to fans on their blog, lead singer Michael Angelakos said that he needed “the time to work on improving my mental health.”
Earlier in July, an article on the website Pitchfork revealed that Angelakos had been diagnosed with bipolar disease at the age of 17. A year later, while attending Emerson College (in Boston), he attempted suicide.
In 2008, he suffered a dissociative psychotic reaction (see below), which required hospitalization at a mental health facility.
This week at Lollapalooza, Angelatos gave an interview to Rolling Stone in which he discusses his battle with bipolar disease, which he describes as:
It’s not just debilitating…. It’s all-encompassing. It’s something you have to work on your entire life.
My depression was so bad three weeks ago when we had to cancel everything – people don’t understand this.It was so bad that I was suffering from something called Psychomotor Retardation [also see below], which is essentially where your brain starts shutting down your entire body. So you’re sitting in bed and you can barely move.
But Angelatos says that opening up about his diagnosis has been empowering. He feels buoyed by the outpouring of support. He says he’s often “fibbed” about the reasons he’s cancelled shows because of the stigma associated with mental health issues.
As an example of how misunderstood depression can be, Angelatos related:
I was working with a specialist at one of the hospitals and he was telling me that they’ve had a lot of cancer patients come in after having cancer and they suffer from such a debilitating depression. But there’s this insane statistic that people who have had cancer and have had depression prefer cancer. And that’s something that you don’t hear.
Passion Pit recently released their second album, Gossamer and Angelatos is feeling optimistic:
eight years of hospitalizations and medications and finally I found treatment and medication that works. It’s a pain but hopefully now that’s just going to eliminate the need to take time off and I can actually start focusing on what I like to do.
Here’s a little information about the two associated symptoms that Angelatos suffered from: dissociative psychotic reaction and psychomotor retardation.
Sometimes, a person with severe episodes of mania or depression has psychotic symptoms too, such as hallucinations or delusions. The psychotic symptoms tend to reflect the person’s extreme mood. For example, psychotic symptoms for a person having a manic episode may include believing he or she is famous, has a lot of money, or has special powers. In the same way, a person having a depressive episode may believe he or she is ruined and penniless, or has committed a crime. As a result, people with bipolar disorder who have psychotic symptoms are sometimes wrongly diagnosed as having schizophrenia, another severe mental illness that is linked with hallucinations and delusions.
Psychomotor retardation involves a slowing-down of thought and decrease of physical movements in an individual. Psychomotor retardation can cause a visible slowing of physical and emotional reactions, including speech and affect. This is most-commonly seen in people with major depression and in the depressed phase of bipolar disorder; it is also associated with the adverse effects of certain drugs, such as benzodiazepines.
Examples of psychomotor retardation include the following: