Don’t Stop Believin’

Last Updated: 7 Jul 2020

OK, I am a middle-aged pseudo-“Idol” geek.  Last week’s elimination of contestant James Durbin from “American Idol” nearly broke my heart.


No doubt the guy can sing. As the season passed, we followers of the show learned, he could belt-out heavy metal, and then surprisingly turn around and reveal his ability to present a sensitive ballad.  His vocal range is exceptional. His passion for music is palatable. I was really pulling for him.


James also revealed even deeper skills and challenges.  He is very open about the fact that he has both Tourette’s  and Asperger’s, both neurological syndromes having characteristics that reflect the inability to control actions and to function socially.  In James’ case, he manages his disorders, at least in public, with more than just a little pluck.


He must really know who he is, have rock-solid coping skills to handle the stress, pressure, and competitiveness of the show, in order to have made it that far in the competition.  I’d bet for most folks with mental disorders the challenges of a competition like “Idol” would have a tough time maintaining stability, unless they too, had maintenance and coping skills such as James.


We don’t what goes on behind the scenes.  What we saw was James defying the nature of his illnesses; he was focused, creative, a planner, organized, and sang his butt off.


So what do Tourette’s and Asperger’s have to do with our focus on bipolar? Each of the three is a distinctly different disorder. The common denominator is that each requires management of symptoms and medications, dealing with symptoms that may happen in public, creating confidence and sense of self, and standing strong in our own truth.

That’s why James may emerge as a role model for success for those with mental diseases/disorders–he reveals to us what is possible, once committed, in the pursuit of wellness, coping, commitment, passion, and dreams.


I know James will do well in the future.  How about you—what are committed to doing to achieve a goal or dream?



About the author
Beth Brownsberger Mader was diagnosed in 2004, at age 38, with bipolar II disorder and C-PTSD, after living with symptoms and misdiagnoses for over 30 years. In 2007, she suffered a traumatic brain injury, compounding bipolar recovery challenges that she continues to work on today. Since these diagnoses, Beth has written extensively about bipolar, its connection to PTSD, physical illness, disability, and ways to develop coping skills and maintain hope. She also writes about bipolar/brain disorders and family, marriage, relationships, loss, and grief. Beth finds the outdoors to be her connection to her deepest healing skills, where the metaphors for life, love, compassion, and empathy are revealed, and how her bipolar and other challenges are faced head-on with perseverance and determination. Beth served as a contributing editor/featured columnist for bp Magazine from 2007 until 2016, and as a bphope blogger from 2011 until 2016. She returned to blogging for bphope in 2019. Beth continues to work on her unpublished memoir, Savender. She holds a BA from Colorado College and an MFA from the University of Denver. Beth lives in Colorado with her husband, Blake, and her service dog, Butter. Check out Beth’s blog at bessiebandaidrinkiewater.

Leave a Reply

Please do not use your full name, as it will be displayed. Your email address will not be published.