SIMMONS: Sheen watchers enable sick man

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Through a glass, briefly, Charlie Sheen.

I know, I know. Some of you aren’t interested, and I can dig it. But here’s a guy who is tossing his blessings into the toilet — and his illness is hiding that fact.

I haven’t seen it with my own eyes, but others in the know say Charlie Sheen unplugged isn’t a G-rated performance. I cannot imagine how his mom is handling things, but she is not alone.

Nearly one in four American adults is touched with some form of mental illness each and every year, including anorexia and other eating disorders, suicidal tendencies, depression, compulsive behavior, schizophrenia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and radical substance abuse.

And there’s bipolar disorder, which Sheen watchers are saying is the root of the actor’s problems.

Whatever his diagnosis, Carlos Irwin Estevez (his real name) needs prayer and treatment.

We sat back and watched (and joked) in recent years as the lives of Britney Spears, Rihanna and Chris Brown, Robert Downey Jr. and Lindsay Lohan played themselves out via a criminal justice system.

And before them the likes of Elvis Presley, Kurt Cobain, Anna Nicole Smith and John Belushi. And before them Charlie Parker, Marilyn Monroe, Dorothy Dandridge and Billie Holiday.

That’s an extremely short list of sick celebrities, but add up all the headlines and headliners and none of their sagas reaches the pitch of the Charlie Sheen meltdown, which is more frightening than any Hollywood horror flick.

There are gal pals who claim to have had close ravaging encounters with Mr. Sheen, indiscretions that speak as plainly about their character as they do Mr. Sheen’s illness.

There are the mothers of his children and former spouses who threw up their hands following domestic violence.

There also are celebs who are trying to reach out to Mr. Sheen, including Sean Penn, ex of the “Material Girl” and brother of the late Chris Penn, who lost the battle with his own demons.

But it was Tom Arnold, a recovering addict, who really put into perspective about what happens when we sweep mental illness under the rug.

“I went to a person close to him and said, ‘This guy is in serious trouble with serious drugs. We’ve got to help him,’” Mr. Arnold told the New York Times. “And this person flat-out told me to my face, ‘We make a lot of money from him. I can’t be part of it.’ That tells you everything you need to know.”

Enablers. Hanger-ons. Groupies.

You can label them as you see fit, but the bottom line for those types of people is that they, too, are sick.

Is it drug abuse that fuels madness or madness that fuels drug abuse? A new report in the British Medical Journal says that even when it’s just marijuana, teens and young adults who had smoked pot over the course of a 10-year study showed an increased risk for psychotic behavior.

You needn’t have shared a joint with Mr. Sheen to know that if he were, say, your 12-year-son, you would have sought treatment for him. And if your daughter and grandchildren had been on the receiving end of his rages you surely would intervene.

But it appears as though his enablers have the upper hand over his sad state of affairs, and while he wallows in mental illness they see benefits of his self-destructive behavior.

It’s sort of like children watching a public brawl: While they may not verbally egg on bullies, they become enablers when they whip out their camera/video phones and to share their delight in the act.

That’s as sick as Sheen watchers egging him on by visiting his Web videos. Mr. Sheen’s ranting speaks volumes.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. — 1 Corinthians 13:12

Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com

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About the Author
Deborah Simmons

Deborah Simmons

Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...

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