Strip away the “Hollywood glamour” and what’s left is someone asking a mother to explain how easy a bipolar diagnosis must’ve been for her and her child because of her celebrity.

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I recently caught up with the star of “Twin Peaks” and “Riverdale” on the “Inside Mental Health” podcast for the sole purpose of discussing her family’s experience with bipolar disorder.

When actress Mädchen Amick’s adult son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she was already a famous actress. By contrast, when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, my mom was, well, not.

Amick has a long television career, beginning when director David Lynch chose her to play waitress Shelly Johnson on the now iconic television series, “Twin Peaks.” Again, by contrast, my mother has a long career as a receptionist for a national weight loss company.

My family isn’t Hollywood connected. We don’t have money or resources or fans. We’ve never contributed to the zeitgeist. We are, in many ways, the polar opposite of Amick’s family.

But our families — like many others’ — share parallel stories of experiencing the impact of a family member living with bipolar disorder.

“… every single time, I rejected that narrative, assuming their version was easier. Or better. Or less scary. Because I reasoned in my head, they’re rich and famous.”

Her son, Sylvester “Sly” Time Amick-Alexis, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 1 while in college in 2011 when he was about 20 years old.

I learned that the family had a difficult experience getting him hospitalization during episodes of mania.

Amick reflects “… treatment centers are not equipped to deal with mania. I mean, him going in and out of treatment centers and crisis centers. They would take him in and they would, you know, like a week later, kick him out. They didn’t understand the mania, they didn’t understand how to treat it and how to handle it.”

She says the family grappled to understand what was happening. Every article I read about the Amick-Alexis family to prepare for the podcast was filled with pretty similar stories to my family.

And every single time, I rejected that narrative, assuming their version was easier. Or better. Or less scary. Because I reasoned in my head, they’re rich and famous.

When the interview began, I was a fanboy trying to remain professional. I wanted to ask her about “Twin Peaks.” I wanted to tell her that 16-year-old Gabe had a crush on her. I wanted to ask her what it was like to be part of such a cult classic.

But instead, I continued with a series of questions about how fame, fortune, Hollywood, whatever must have helped with her son’s bipolar disorder treatment. I wasn’t really asking, I was practically insistent. I wanted her to tell me how much easier it was for her and her family.

Listening back to the episode now, I cringe.

She didn’t balk. Amick didn’t demure, or position herself as “the heroine.” She stayed candid about the process of a family learning the condition, how to accept it, talk about it with others, and find ways to best support Sly, in a way that was authentic.

I was unwittingly looking to compartmentalize her experience the same way my own has been by those on the outside, looking in. Ouch.

I’m sure this is not what the Amick-Alexis family meant when they named their nonprofit, don’t MiND me. Spoiler: Mädchen, husband David, daughter Mina, and son Sly’s foundation is dedicated to providing empathy and resources for other family’s seeking mental health treatment.

A career mom looking for treatment, providing support

In contrast to being an actor and director who’s known for commanding attention and taking center stage, she spoke transparently, like any other mom who’s stepping into the supporting role and going off-script, so her son can thrive.

As the interview went on, I stopped seeing Amick as the awesome badass she plays on television and started seeing her as being like my mom. She spoke of being scared, treatment options being outside of their reach, and the disbelief and confusion that accompanied it.

At one point, I thought to myself, “Wow, this woman’s story is just like all the stories I hear daily from parents.” And why wouldn’t it? Amick is a mother who has a career that is, while atypical, just that — a career.

I do have a hard time with the idea that a mental health diagnosis impacts everyone equally. I know that I’m doing well because I have access to doctors, treatment, and cutting-edge care thanks to the financial means necessary to accomplish that.

Affluent or financially striving, from a famous family or the average Joneses’, life before a bipolar disorder diagnosis can be blindsiding, bewildering, and unpredictable — life after can be informed, equipped … and unpredictable.

At one point, I thought to myself, “Wow, this woman’s story is just like all the stories I hear daily from parents.” And why wouldn’t it? Amick is a mother who has a career that is, while atypical, just that — a career.

It would appear that, no matter how much a person has, bipolar disorder is terrifying. Amick is in the trenches with people just like my mom, fighting and clawing for their children.

In some ways, it sounds like a perfect formula for a movie Amick could star in. The rejection, the drama, the setbacks, and the fear. It sounds so Hollywood.

Except this is happening in real life. And Amick isn’t playing a character, she’s being a mother.

If there is a silver lining to me learning the Amick-Alexis’ family journey, it’s realizing that I finally got my childhood wish. My mother is absolutely just as cool as the glamorous actress in Hollywood that had teenage Gabe starstruck.

Want to learn more from Mädchen Amick? Click the player below or visit the official episode page forCelebrity Mom, Son with Bipolar: Twin Peak’s Mädchen Amick Opens UpInside Mental Health Podcast episode.

Gabe Howard

Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer and speaker who lives with bipolar disorder. He is the author of the popular book “Mental Illness Is an Asshole and Other Observations,” available from Amazon; signed copies are also available directly from the author.

Gabe is the host of Healthline Media’s weekly podcast, “Inside Mental Health.” You can listen and learn more here.

Gabe can be found online at gabehoward.com.