Eric Millegan Receives the Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder
US News & World Report reported thus in 2016 about the ‘Bones’ actor Eric Millegan’s fight with bipolar disorder: Eric Millegan, of Fox’s hit show “Bones,” woke up early one Los Angeles morning in 2005 and everything felt dark, heavy and awful. Then, almost as quickly as the helpless feelings began, he popped out of the depression and decided to pay an impulsive visit to Disneyland, a quintessential “happy place.” Upon arriving, Millegan, then 30, bought a piece of pizza, sat down and started crying uncontrollably. For no reason.
“I knew then, I was like, ‘Something’s wrong with me. Why am I crying? What’s going on here?'”
That intense switching-of-gears was a symptom of the illness he didn’t know he had: bipolar disorder. Millegan’s story is one of many that illuminates what it’s like to live with a mental disorder, like bipolar, and underscores the importance of seeking help. (Oliver, 2016)
Around 2.6 percent of U.S. adults suffer from bipolar disorder. Basically, the disorder affects your mood, energy and activity levels, disrupting your daily life. Typically, the disorder manifests around age 25.
The above episode alarmed Millegan enough to consult a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist was quick to spot the diagnosis based on very few details because as she said then to Millegan what made reach the diagnosis was “‘It wasn’t what you told me. It was the way you told me.”
Millegan came out as having bipolar disorder in The Huffington Post in March 2010.
Hart Hanson Supports Eric Millegan
Luckily, Eric Millegan received support from the showrunner of ‘Bones’ Hart Hanson, who told him compassionately, “You’re valuable to the show, so if you need to [leave] and get better, you’ll still have your job when you come back.”
Looking back, Hanson recalls, “He had a very tough time. It was a very tough time with mood swings and mania. Essentially, he and I had a talk and I said it was up to him and I wanted him to talk to his shrink, but I thought it would be better if the people he was working with knew what he was wrestling with.” (Frevele, 2011 Part 1)
Hart Hanson was no stranger to mental illness because he had loved ones who were mentally ill. So, Hanson “had a little warning of what was coming with Eric.”
“On the pilot, he seemed lost and slightly awkward and slightly timid — none of this was true, by the way. But what I noticed first was that he would tie his shoes many, many, many times until they were balanced…There’s any number of things [that the] symptoms I recognized could be. Depression was one, although I did recognize mania. I was hoping that he was obsessive-compulsive.” (Frevele, 2011 Part 1)
Eric Millegan Gets Treatment
Millegan started taking medication almost right after getting the diagnosis. But, it took a couple of years for him to have consistently good days; to be “balanced.” And he was, for some time. Until that is, Millegan went to England to sign autographs at a convention, which led to another breakdown and suicidal feelings.
Initially, Millegan was put on the medication Lamictal. Later, it was changed to Zyprexa. But, Zyprexa made him gain weight and extremely sleepy. Then the England breakdown happened. Finally, he struck balance thus: “Then I went on Lexapro. Zyprexa kind of slowed down my manias, stopped my manias altogether. But I would still occasionally have some depression. So I went on 5 mg of Lexapro. And there were some side effects I wasn’t very cool with. And I had to cut the teeny little tablets in half, to make it 2.5 mg – perfect. It had no side effects, and no depression.”
Eric Millegan Goes Public about his Bipolar Disorder
Eric Millegan explains why he went public with his bipolar disorder thus (Frevele, 2011 Part 2). “I was hoping that I could say stuff about mental illness that maybe people didn’t know. You know, speak up for bipolar disorder and let people know a little bit more about it that they may not have known. And hopefully give inspiration, or consolation, or comfort to other people who are bipolar. To hear someone else say, ‘Yes, I’m bipolar too.’ … Just to let people know, too, that you can be bipolar, you can be going through hell…you can get through it.
“Bipolar disorder is a scary disease, but it is manageable. And I feel blessed that I was able to get the right attention and the right medication to deal with my specific illness. And if you have it, just take your medicine, get to people who are supportive of you, and know that you can get through it. You can do it. And if you’re not bipolar, and you’re just wondering what it is, just know that it’s very real, it’s very painful, and it’s not who the people are. Once you get the right combination of medicine, you can find out and be who you really are and not this illness that is making you go nuts.
“If you know people who are suicidal, or if you know people who are bipolar, depressed, have panic attack disorder, just be there for them. They’re going through something that’s very, very hard. And even if you don’t understand it, understand that it’s hard for them. If you have a friend or a family member who’s bipolar, or has panic attack disorder, or is depressed, read up on it a little bit so you can get to know where they’re coming from. I, luckily, had someone like that in my life who called the bipolar hotline, went on the Internet and looked up bipolar disorder, and was very supportive and understanding. And that man was Hart Hanson. He was very understanding and well read on everything that was going on with me.”
Frevele, J., 2011 Part 1. Eric Millegan on Living (and Acting) with Bipolar Disorder: Part 1. [Online]
Available at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/eric-millegan-on-living-a_b_336305
[Accessed 18 Feb 2020].
Frevele, J., 2011 Part 2. Eric Millegan on Living (and Acting) with Bipolar Disorder: Part 2. [Online]
Available at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/eric-millegan-on-living-a_b_338419
[Accessed 18 Feb 2020].
Oliver, D., 2016. ‘Bones’ Actor Eric Millegan Opens Up About Struggle With Bipolar Disorder. [Online]
Available at: https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2016-10-06/bones-actor-eric-millegan-opens-up-about-struggle-with-bipolar-disorder
[Accessed 18 Feb 2020].