It isn’t often that a Hollywood star’s personal life or behavior makes me want to jump for joy. A recent decision, however, by the beautiful actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, left me applauding. The forty-one year old Zeta-Jones, married to mega movie star Michael Douglas, disclosed last week via her publicist that she was voluntarily checking herself into a mental health facility to treat symptoms of her Bipolar II disorder.

I hope that her courageous and very candid public announcement will go far in the destigmitization of mental diseases. Although many in Hollywood have probably suffered at some point from a mental disorder, it is rare for someone to actually admit the source of their problem. Most stars cite extreme exhaustion or some other malady when in fact he/she is seeking help for a mental disorder.

I found it refreshing that Zeta-Jones was up-front about her situation and apparently had no qualms in talking about it. Having said this, obviously she didn’t owe it to anyone to talk about her health problems. However, the fact that she did self disclose will hopefully empower others suffering from similar problems to feel they too can talk about it.

Bipolar II disorder is similar to Bipolar I disorder in that both are mood disorders with moods cycling between highs and lows. The difference is that in Bipolar II, the highs are never as high as the full blown mania reached in Bipolar I disorder. Symptoms may include pressured or loud speech, increased energy and/or flight of ideas often called hypomania. Most people suffering with Bipolar II disorder often experience extreme depression (low energy, loss of pleasure, feelings of guilt) following the hypomanic period. The depression can also lead to suicidal ideation. Treatment for Bipolar II normally involves a combination of therapy and medications.

Episodes may be triggered by stress. Zeta-Jones has been the caretaker for her husband who has suffered from esophageal cancer over the past year as well as two young children. Her husband has also been the target of a law suit by his former spouse.

Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas were said to be about for dinner earlier this week. She spent five days in a mental health facility.

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Congratulations to Cumberland County High School Senior Prom King and Queen Terryl Bowen and Rebecca Taylor. Junior class members Austin Patterson and Autumn Segers were named as Prince and Princess. Congratulations are also in order to Sidney Delvers of CCHS. She was the winner of the $50 cash prize from the TAD Center’s Promise pledge drawing.

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After a long winter, extended school days and standardized tests, Cumberland County Students will get a break from their studies. School will dismiss on Thursday and students will be out for Good Friday and all of next week for spring break.

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If you are traveling this holiday weekend, make sure you exercise caution. Observe the speed limits, wear your seat belts and do not drink and drive!

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