An Interview with Mary Forsberg Weiland on Addiction and Bipolar Disorder
David Van Nuys, Ph.D. Updated: Feb 15th 2010
Mary Forsberg Weiland, formerly a successful fashion model and wife of rock star Scott Weiland (singer for the popular 1990s rock band Stone Temple Pilots) recounts her life story growing up in in San Diego in a chaotic family environment featuring povery, frequent moves, divorce and remarriage, depression, suicidal ideation, and delinquency; her early and sudden success as a fashion model; more depression; her very intense and volitile marriage to Mr. Weiland; their drug addiction problems; and her very public manic episode in which she burned her husband's clothes and damaged a hotel room. Though embarrassing, this episode resulted in her acceptance of treatment for bipolar disorder, an action which she credits with completely transforming her life and reducing her misery. Through her book, she hopes to share her experience with others so as to reduce the shame and stigma associated with addiction and bipolar disorder diagnosis and treatment.
David Van Nuys: Welcome to Wise Counsel, a podcast interview series sponsored by Mentalhelp.net, covering topics in mental health, wellness, and psychotherapy. My name is Dr. David Van Nuys. I'm a clinical psychologist and your host.
On today's show, we'll be talking with my guest, Mary Forsberg Weiland, about her recent memoir, which tracks her fame as an international model, her marriage to a rock star, and her struggle with both drug addiction and bipolar disorder.
Mary Weiland was born and raised in San Diego, California, and at age 15, she was selected out of approximately 40,000 young girls across America to appear in a special issue of Seventeen magazine. Soon after, she became emancipated and began an 18-year modeling career, represented by some of the most prestigious agencies in the business. Mary's career as model took her around the world shooting campaigns for cosmetics giants such as Max Factor and Estee Lauder, as well as editorial photographs for magazines, including Cosmopolitan and Vogue.
At the age of 16, while working with the Bordeaux Agency in Los Angeles, Mary was assigned a driver named Scott Weiland, a then struggling rock singer. After an on-and-off romance of eight years, they married in 2000 at the height of Scott's success as the front man for Stone Temple Pilots, one of the most accomplished and successful rock groups of the 1990s.
Both Scott and Mary have struggled with a myriad of substance abuse problems during their life together. While Scott was constantly in the news for a series of drug-related arrests, Mary herself made seven separate visits to rehab centers to overcome various addictions. After a widely publicized incident in 2007, when Mary was arrested and incarcerated after lighting a fire to Scott's wardrobe, she finally got the help she needed. This led to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
Mary has ended her relationship with drugs and alcohol and turned her attention to helping others with bipolar disorder, which often goes undiagnosed. She's working toward a certificate in drug and alcohol counseling with a focus on co-occurring disorders. She lives in Los Angeles with her two children, Noah and Lucy.
Now, let's go to the interview.
Mary Forsberg Weiland, welcome to Wise Counsel.
Mary Weiland: Hi. Thank you for having me.
David: I'm happy to have the opportunity to speak with you. I've been reading your 2009 book, Fall to Pieces, and I have to say, it's a real page turner.
Mary Weiland: Thank you so much. I didn't want to put anybody into a coma with just medical jargon.
David: Well, this one really doesn't do that. It was kind of hard to put it down, and I have to say I read it all the way through - just finished it up last night. Now, just to make sure all our listeners have some context for the discussion that we're about to have, I want to mention up front that you were a very successful fashion model, married to Scott Weiland, a well-known rock star who is the lead singer of the Stone Temple Pilots, STP, and another group, Velvet Revolver. Do I have that right?
Mary Weiland: You have it right, yes.
David: Okay. I'm of a generation that I did not know any of those groups, you'll be horrified to hear.
Mary Weiland: I don't know that I would have as well, if I didn't marry into it.
David: Okay, and then, of course, another major thread that runs through the book has to do with your struggles with both drug addiction and bipolar disorder. Your book is a memoir, so maybe it makes sense for us to step through the major phases of your life story. So tell us about the early years of your growing up.
Mary Weiland: The early years of Mary were pretty chaotic. They were not the worst childhood you could have, and there was a lot of love there, but it was definitely falling under something that you might call chaotic, which was we moved quite a bit; my parents married and divorced each other more than once; and my father was struggling as well with his own addictions. And it was different than most people's childhood, and I don't know that that set the tone for where I have ended up today, or if it was just a part of me from the beginning - if bipolar and addiction, if those were just going to happen to me regardless, which I'm pretty certain that that's the case. But I did experience a lot of depression as a child.
David: Yes, something I just realized that you and I have in common is that my parents also got divorced and remarried to each other several times.
Mary Weiland: Yes, I have a couple friends that have done that as well. It's definitely not something many people do, but you got to give your parents credit for trying.
David: This is the first time, actually, I've heard of it outside of my own situation, so it's interesting to hear that that's been a theme for other people. Now, you did most of your growing up in Coronado, California, right? I have the impression that that was a pretty nice area.
Mary Weiland: Yes, well, I grew up from birth on to about seventh grade moving around San Diego. It was always in San Diego, and we moved to probably just about every city you can live in in San Diego. And in the seventh grade, probably about the middle of seventh grade, I moved to Coronado, which was a huge culture shock to me because it really is a very high income, beautiful city, and it was not something that I had been used to. So it was a huge culture shock for me, but I'm really glad that I had the experience of living there.
David: And your parents were not wealthy, right?
Mary Weiland: No, we were financially challenged. They were very young when I was born - my mother was 18, my father was 19 - so they were not prepared to become parents at that time, and they did the best they could, but at that age, I don't know that anyone's really able to be very successful in any portion of their life.
David: So talk a little bit about what school was like for you because you mentioned that depression became a theme fairly early on. Talk about elementary and the junior high years.
Mary Weiland: For elementary school, what was difficult for me was mostly just having to move. I think I moved to a new school every year. There were some times where I would move in the middle of the year, but my mother tried to keep me through the entire year in one school, but I, for the most part, was in a different school every year. So that was a little bit difficult for me to have to make new friends, to have that loneliness and isolation, especially in the beginning of starting a new school, not having the best friends that other people had, and that contributed, I think, to some of the sadness that I experienced.
David: Always the outsider.
Mary Weiland: Yes, always the outsider, but I think that that also has helped me in the business that I moved into, where with modeling you meet new people almost every day. Every job you go to you have a new photographer, a new makeup artist, a new hairdresser, a new stylist. So I do think that that experience as a child helped me in this business, and I was able to eventually make friends, but unfortunately, once I made friends, then I moved again. So that was hard.
David: And what was home situation like during those early years of elementary school and junior high? Were things stable at home, or were your parents fighting? What was going on?
Mary Weiland: Yes, I had parents that fought. I don't think it was that different from most people. Like I mentioned, my parents were really young, so they were not prepared for a relationship, and they struggled a lot. So there was fighting in my home, but for the most part, what was difficult was just having parents in and out of work, the financial struggle, and the fact that my parents really were not a good match. They just did their best because they were parents, and they tried to keep it together for me and then, eventually, for my brother. And we were not Leave It to Beaver.
David: But you were not abused, right?
Mary Weiland: No, no.
David: You wouldn't describe as an abused child.
Mary Weiland: No. I mean, my parents were not always there for me, I would say, emotionally. My mother - both of them - they did the best they could.
David: So, let's talk about high school. How did high school go for you?
Mary Weiland: High school was difficult for me. Actually, once I started in Coronado, it was a real shock for me. I was behind somewhat because I switched schools all the time, and each time you go into a new school, they're at a different place in their curriculum, and so I was always a little bit behind.
And once I got to Coronado, what was hard for me was I didn't realize that you could go so far in education. I was under the impression that college was for becoming a doctor, becoming a lawyer, becoming a teacher. I didn't realize that you could go just to expand your knowledge and get a degree in so many different areas. So that was really hard for me to… not only in class trying to keep up, but in my mind it was really frustrating because I didn't want to be so far behind. You know, my mother worked; my father worked. They weren't really available for me to help move forward with my education because that was not something that they had in their arsenal.
So I struggled quite a bit, but the biggest struggle I had was depression and not feeling normal. I didn't feel like the other kids; I felt like an outsider but for the reason that I just couldn't understand why I had so much depression. There was a part of me that knew my life was somewhat privileged in the fact that we had gone so far from these financial struggles. Although we were still struggling, it was no longer standing in the government cheese line. So just that feeling of being different and not being normal - or what I thought was normal. That was difficult for me.
And then moving again - once again, I moved. I think I stayed in Coronado for the end of seventh grade, eighth grade. I believe in ninth grade I moved to another school, and then I moved back to Coronado. So that always played a part in my life.
David: Yes, a lot of change there. Now, I've been reading your book over the course of about a month, so I think I've forgotten some of the early parts of the book, but I seem to recall that there was a real crisis at some point there in high school, where - if I recall correctly - did your mother actually hospitalize you? Was there a suicide attempt? I'm trying to remember what happened there.
Mary Weiland: I did make a pretty pitiful attempt in the seventh or eighth grade. I can't even remember, so don't feel bad. Seventh or eighth grade, I did make a really pitiful attempt, and my intention really was I just wanted to go to sleep because sleep was an escape for me to get out of that depression. So I had this childish thought that I could take a box of Benadryl, and I would sleep for a long time, and that would help me get through it - at least for a few days. And I did contact a suicide hotline to ask questions and hope that maybe this person would understand what I was going through, not because my intention was to kill myself. I did not want to take my family to that place.
I was eventually - I believe it was seventh or eighth grade as well - sent to juvenile hall. Not the best child at that time. My childhood was a bit of a struggle for me, and I was a bit of a troublemaker, but right after I was taken out of the suicide watch there, I wanted to go to a mental institute because I thought I belonged there. And I was thinking that this is a place where I don't have to have as much going on in my life, and I can just go to bed, which was always the escape for me. Food and sleeping were the only two things that made me feel at least a touch better.
And once I got there with my mother, I realized that maybe this is not the place that I belong. Maybe I'm not as bad as the people that are here. And at the time, I don't think that I was. It really escalated for me as I got older, but I didn't end up staying, and I'm really grateful that I didn't end up staying. The course of my life would have changed completely.
David: Yes. Now, somehow in the midst of all this crisis and upset of mental hospital and juvenile detention and kind of being the bad girl, then there's this rather unexpected transition into modeling and success as a model.
Mary Weiland: Yes, it was very unexpected.
David: Yes, tell us how you got into modeling.
Mary Weiland: I heard on the radio a commercial for a modeling school, and my mother had heard it as well and received a postcard in the mail.
David: It was Barbizon, right?
Mary Weiland: Yes.
David: Yes, I've heard about Barbizon.
Mary Weiland: I think everybody's heard of it at some point. It was something that I wanted to explore, not because I thought I had any chance at becoming a model, but because there were classes that I thought would help me so that I could get a job eventually one day, because where I grew up, the jobs were very limited, and I didn't want to go into these careers where financially you really just were going to get by. And I felt like maybe if I had this knowledge of how to present myself, that I would be able to at least get a step further than everybody in my family had gotten.
David: Okay, that makes sense.
Mary Weiland: And that was my intention, and once I got there, I was encouraged to enter a Seventeen magazine cover model contest, and I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of their eight finalists and flown to New York, where I met with these top New York agencies and was selected, not for the cover, but to start working with one of these agencies. And it took off from there at 15. It was very unexpected.
David: So at 15, your career really took off in a very big way. You dropped out of high school, I guess, for that period.
Mary Weiland: Yes. Unfortunately, I was encouraged to not go to school so that I could focus on my career, which I regret; yet, at the same time, I did finish my high school diploma with home school. It was really important for me that I had the diploma and not a GED, so it took me a long time, but I got there and then eventually moved on to a bit of college. But I do wish that I had had the opportunity to stay in school, although my life wouldn't be what it is today, having made that choice.
David: Right. It's fascinating that your modeling career fell into place so quickly and so easily - it seemed - when so many girls struggle for that dream and never achieve it.
Mary Weiland: Yes. I didn't make it to the supermodel status, but I did have a consistent and successful career. The beginning was slow, but once I got working, I had a pretty consistent career, and I'm really grateful for that because I know there are so many girls that go into that field and don't make it to the level that I did.
David: Oh, yes. You say you didn't become a supermodel, but I was certainly impressed, reading through the book, that you were on catwalks and doing photo shoots in places like Paris and Milan and New York City, and doing work for Vogue and just…
Mary Weiland: It was a very privileged experience. I know that I was privileged in the sense that not everyone gets to that, so really grateful for that.
David: And at the same time, in the book, I got the impression that, at that time, it seemed almost like you never fully valued your success. You'd show up late for modeling assignments or just blow them off.
Mary Weiland: Well, not the actual assignment. I always made it to my assignment. Once I was booked for a job, I definitely made it, but I struggled to actually get out of bed because the depression was so thick and heavy, and I really, many times, felt like I couldn't get out of bed for the casting, the audition, to get the job. So I missed out quite a bit because I couldn't get to the audition. I was trapped in bed.
David: And also, as time went on, drugs began to play a role in that too. Didn't that also interfere somewhat with your devotion to modeling?
Mary Weiland: It interfered quite a bit. Yes, it certainly did. There was one year where I absolutely could not work. I was struggling with addiction so heavily that I could not work a day in this one particular year, and it really made it difficult for me, once I did get clean, to even go back to that field. It was never the same after that. But I know for so many people that are struggling with a mental illness they can probably relate to how drugs or alcohol play a part.
David: Sure, sure. I was struck by the cover photo on the book, which I wish our audience could see. They can if they want to go online; they can find it. How old were you when that picture was taken?
Mary Weiland: I was 18 when I took that picture, and for some reason, that picture always affected me, and the day that it was taken it turned out it was the same day that Scott, my ex-husband, the day that he first tried heroin. So there were quite a few different reasons why I chose that picture. It's just always something that was… all the pictures that I've taken over my life, that one I just always had a connection to it. And, you know, there's a beauty to it, but there's also a sense of melancholy, and with my husband taking heroin for the first time, there's a lot of meaning behind it.
David: Yes, the word that comes to mind as I look at the picture is "waif," that you look kind of waif-like and lost. Were you aware that he had taken heroin at the time that the picture was taken, or did you find out later that day?
Mary Weiland: No. I actually didn't see him that day. He was too embarrassed to see me, and he was sick from using, so I didn't see him that day. And, actually, after that point, it was quite awhile before I saw him again. For some people, myself included, it can take just one time to use and you're lost, and that was the case for him and then, eventually, for me as well.
David: Yes, and of course, a real centerpiece of the book is your relationship with Scott, Scott Weiland, who you fell in love at first sight when you were only 16.
Mary Weiland: Yes, I was not the girl that was looking for my knight in shining armor, and for some reason - I'm sure it was fate, that the minute I saw him, I knew it would be him. But we did experience a lot of intense moments in our love for each other, and I'm sure that it falls under love addiction. There's the true love that is there, but I also feel like there was a real addiction to each other that created a major struggle for us.
David: That was my impression, and I didn't necessarily call it love addiction, but I did feel… part of my internal dialog was, "Man, she is addicted to Scott."
Mary Weiland: Yes. That was an important part of my story, where I wanted to share my experience of bipolar, my experience with drug addiction, and also my experience with being addicted to a person.
David: Yes, and at the same time, skipping ahead to the end of the book - and I don't mean to skip to the end of the book…
Mary Weiland: Are you going to spoil my story?
David: I hope not, but just one of the things that struck me is, with all the ups and downs, with all the sort of heaven and hell of the relationship, seemed like your final take on it was that you don't regret having known and having married and having shared all these experiences with Scott.
Mary Weiland: Absolutely not. I have two beautiful children, and I would have gone through anything to find myself at the place I am today, where I have these two amazing children, and that was the most beautiful gift I've ever received, and I couldn't have had them without Scott. And also we loved each other very, very much and still have a love for each other, so that's something that some people never experience.
Mary Weiland: So I'm grateful for that.
David: Was it painful for you to write this book? To go back over all these very difficult experiences?
Mary Weiland: I've always been a really open person. I haven't really hidden behind too much in my life, and a really serious manic episode that I had became public knowledge, so I kind of had to embrace it, otherwise it would have driven me even more mad than I'd already been. So it was something that I wanted to embrace, and I feel like recovery from anything requires honesty, and I wanted to be able to help other people.
David: It really comes across as a very honest and perhaps painful account.
Mary Weiland: Yes. I wouldn't call it painful so much. What was difficult for me in writing was making sure that it was not a story that was going to eventually one day embarrass my children, so I had them in mind as I was writing, and that was difficult. But they have their age appropriate knowledge of what Mommy has gone through, and they know that I wanted to help people, so they've been really accepting of it. You know, as teenagers, God only knows what they're going to think and how they'll react, but it was not a story I wanted to write that was a tell-all. There's stuff to tell, but I wouldn't put it under the tell-all category.
Also, the other thing that was difficult was my memory is not amazing, and I can't believe how much I struggled to remember things, and I'm really grateful that I have friends and family and doctors that were there for me to help me fill in the holes.
David: I can really relate to that. I would not be able to sit down and write a memoir with very much detail, and certainly not with the kind of detail that…
Mary Weiland: I needed to interview people regarding myself, which was a very funny thing to do, but very necessary.
David: Sure, right.
Mary Weiland: And not only because I wanted to remember things exactly as they were, but also because it's great to have an outside opinion, somebody looking at me as opposed as me just looking at myself.
David: Yes. You know, even though it's not a tell-all, at such a young age you found yourself mixing with an amazing array of people who either already were or soon would be celebrities themselves. For example, you got to know Carmen Diaz, Charlize Theron, who were models themselves at the time. And do I recall correctly that Drew Barrymore was also someone you met or knew during that period?
Mary Weiland: Yes, I met her during that period - as a teenager, actually. When you live in LA and you're a teenager and you're in… whether it's the film industry, television, modeling, music, we kind of stick together because it doesn't seem that there are that many of us, although I know that there are, but we do kind of have an attraction to each other because we know the experience that we're going through. And my experience meeting Drew was I was really fascinated, not only because she was my age and I didn't have that many friends my age, but she was emancipated, and I had recently been emancipated, and I'd never met anybody that had gone through that, so it was a really fascinating conversation to have with her.
David: Yes, and you also developed a close friendship with one of my favorite stars, Nicholas Cage. Was this before he became a big star?
Mary Weiland: I have a feeling Nick's just always been a big star, and he was very successful at that time and dating one of my best friends. So he was around quite a bit and a really good guy.
David: Yes. Are you still in touch with him today?
Mary Weiland: No, I haven't seen him in quite awhile. My girlfriend and he are no longer dating. He has moved on and married, I'm sure, a really amazing person, so I haven't seen him in a while. But every once in a while I will run into him, and it's good to reminisce about that time.
David: Sure. And while we're dropping names of the rich and famous, who are some of the other celebs our listeners might recognize? I remember Courtney Love and Robert Downey, Jr., for example.
Mary Weiland: Yes, they also played their part in my life, as well. I've had great friendships with people like Leonardo DiCaprio and Balthazar Getty, Eric Dane, and they were people that played a huge role in my life, even if it was just for a minute.
David: You know so many people yearn for fame, celebrity, money, and yet those didn't seem to bring those happiness. What's your take on these things at this point in your life?
Mary Weiland: No, I never aimed for that. I wanted to be successful. I wanted to have a career that I could be proud of and financially be secure. But the idea of fame still to this day just turns my stomach. I don't know. I definitely would not be the person that could handle that. I don't know how easy it is for anybody to handle it, but for me, I have no interest whatsoever.
David: The story of your tumultuous relationship with Scott is very much tangled up with drugs, so maybe you can take us through some of the highs and low points of the relationship and the role that drugs play.
Mary Weiland: I think it was between the age of 23 and 24 that I had first tried heroin, began shooting heroin and coke, and completely spiraled to the bottom immediately. And I don't know that that would have been an experience I would have had without being in a relationship with Scott. It was definitely a very devastating year, where I lost everything financially, friendships…
David: You note that the two of went through millions.
Mary Weiland: He went through millions. I didn't have millions, but everything that I had, I went through immediately. It was a long year for me, but I think I probably went through what I was saving for a home in a month or two months, which was really devastating. And that's something I recognized while I was being sucked under by that world. Until I found recovery, I didn't realize what I had done, and it was really devastating for me because I was very proud of having had success.
But we had a lot of ups and downs. At the same, as difficult as those experiences were when we were using, we were also together and able to help each other as much as we could in recovery. And we went to treatment together many times, and we tried our best. Recovery is a process, and your goal is not to be perfect but at least move forward and hopefully reach your goal. For me, it was not something that I could commit to and be well from day one. It was a lot of hard work for me.
David: Oh, yes. I think you mentioned in the book that you went to seven different rehab centers and often for multiple weeks, and that helped to burn through a lot of that money because the rehab…
Mary Weiland: It sure did. Rehab is not a free ride.
David: No, it was I think you said $35,000 to $50,000 a week, and that today maybe it would be $100,000 a week at some of those places.
Mary Weiland: You know what? LA is different from the rest of America in the sense that everything here is just some version of fabulous, and I don't know that that's actually good for recovery, especially when you're there, meant to do anything that it takes to get better. And if you're some place where you're getting a massage, getting your nails done, I don't know how great that is for your recovery. But it was about $30,000, $25,000 at the time, per month, and now I know that there are a few that are upwards of $100,000, which just seems completely insane to me. But whatever it takes for someone to get better.
David: Yes. Well, you're definitely to be applauded for your persistence in staying on that path, and for the…
Mary Weiland: And it took me seven because I wasn't ready for the first six. I didn't want it. I was kind of pushed into rehabs, and I was not ready to get better. It was not something that I needed or wanted at that time until the very last one, which I was actually pushed into again, but I wanted a different life then, and so I stuck it out.
David: Well, one of the final crises was that flamboyant - and that's probably the right word - incident. Maybe you could tell that story of the driveway incident, which you said embarrassingly catapulted you into the headlines.
Mary Weiland: Yes, this was an experience that I am both horrified and humiliated by, yet grateful for at the same time. I experienced what I believe was my first major manic episode that took me to a place I had never been before, and I could not control what was happening to me. There was the Mary that could look down on this other Mary and not understand what was going on or have any ability to calm myself.
And, because I was so desperate, because I knew how I was feeling was just absolutely miserable and uncontrollable, I ended up destroying a hotel - or damaging - a hotel room. I set all of my husband's clothes on fire in my driveway. I wanted the attention for somebody to help me because I knew I was not okay, and I was arrested for setting this fire.
It was the number three most viewed story on the internet at the time, which was devastating to me and humiliating, but because of that incident, I was introduced to a doctor who is my doctor to this day - amazing man, understood what I was going through, was able to diagnose me immediately, and for that my life has changed. The medications I've been given have changed me completely, and my life is amazing. And for as humiliating as that experience was, I'm really grateful for it because I don't know that I would have been diagnosed and helped as much as I've been helped.
David: Yes, well, that bonfire - I just have to note that you burned up about $100,000 worth of clothes in the driveway, but you'll be relieved to know that at least one person - me - I didn't see that story on the internet.
Mary Weiland: Well, I am pretty happy about that.
David: But now, we'll all find out about it from your book. So at what point did you discover that bipolar disorder was behind so much of the chaos in your life? Was it at that point? And I think it's Dr. Pilko. Is that his name?
Mary Weiland: Dr. Pilko is my doctor now.
David: Yes, was that the point at which you first sort of officially were given that diagnosis?
Mary Weiland: I was actually diagnosed when I was, I'd say, 23. I was in a treatment center with Scott at the time, and it was recommended that we see a psychiatrist, and we went to see this guy, and that was the first time I had heard the word manic depressive, bipolar. Those were not words that I had ever heard before.
And I didn't accept that diagnosis at the time because I was under the impression that what my problem was were drugs and addiction, and that was what I was experiencing, not a mental illness. I really don't believe that anybody's excited to be called mentally ill, so I didn't take it at the time, and continued until about 32 years old just ignoring that, until I had this major manic episode, and it was very obvious that that was the problem.
And I was so desperate at the time to feel better that I would have taken any diagnosis if it would have helped me even my mood out. So I did have some knowledge because of that first diagnosis, but was completely unaccepting of it.
David: So, what have you done to get on top of the bipolar disorder?
Mary Weiland: I will do anything that's recommended to me, even if it's something that makes me uncomfortable, or I don't want to do, or I don't have time to do. But I meet with my doctor as often as he believes it necessary; I have a meeting with him today. Talk therapy as needed, as well.
And I believe the most important part of my stabilizing myself has been the medications that Dr. Pilko prescribed to me. They worked almost immediately for me, which I'm really grateful for because I know so many people go through just different medications, trying to find what works for them. And fortunately, what he prescribed to me the first time worked.
I know that that's not everyone's experience, and it took a few weeks, especially because I was coming down from this manic episode, but once it kicked in and the mania was gone, night and day - my life. I can get out of bed; sometimes because I'm a mother, it takes me awhile, but it's not the same struggle that I had before, and I feel like what I always thought normal people felt like, and I've been able to finish things. There's no way I would ever been able to write a book without this medication.
David: So what led you to write this book at this time, and what's your hope for it?
Mary Weiland: Well, once I was diagnosed, I had this enamored fascination with bipolar, and I read quite a few different books and couldn't find my story. There was a lot of mania in the stories that I'd read, and my experience had been, for the most part, depression. There was little mania; I guess, far less mania than most people experienced, and I thought there has to be other people that have gone through what I've gone through, haven't seen their story in these other stories, and maybe dismissed a possible diagnosis because of that. So I wanted to share, hoping that maybe there was at least one other person who could relate and have the recovery that I've had and get better and lead a far more amazing life.
And I think that there's a major stigma attached to mental illness and bipolar. I'm obsessed with crime shows, and I'll watch a "Law and Order," any one of those type of shows, and so often, the killer was bipolar, and I don't feel like that helps our situation any. And when you talk about it, and you give people knowledge, they have a better understanding, and it's not as scary. Mental illness, those two words are very scary to people, and I think that once you have some information, that heaviness and that weight lessens.
There have been books - you know, Brooke Shields' book on post-partum depression. Once she said her story, people opened up and they talked about it, and I know now that I've shared my story, complete strangers will share with me what their story is, whatever their sadness is, whether it is bipolar addiction or any other sadness or heaviness that somebody's carrying. And I think people want to share. Nobody really wants to keep this secret, and by opening conversation, I'm hoping the stigma of mental illness, bipolar, addiction, can lose some of its weight.
David: Well, that's a great close for our conversation, and I think that your book definitely contributes to that process. So, Mary Forsberg Weiland, thanks so much for being my guest today on Wise Counsel.
Mary Weiland: Thank you so much for having me. Thank you.
David: I hope you were as fascinated by Mary Weiland's story as I was. I found her book to be a very compelling read, and I think it will appeal to readers of every stripe, not just those who themselves have struggled with drug addiction or bipolar disorder.
I think so many of us are fascinated by the oversized lives of celebrities, and while it's not meant to be a Hollywood exposé, there's an incredible array of famous people and places that crop up in Mary's story. Just before the interview began, I confided to her, off mike, that I felt a little nervous and out of my depth. At this point, I'm quite comfortable interviewing the rock stars of psychology and mental health, but I have no experience talking with real rock stars, models, and such. However, once I got that off my chest and began to experience Mary off the printed page, I quickly felt at ease.
This is a very candid and raw memoir that Mary has written. It ends on a triumphant note. At the same time, Mary is clear that she will ever need to be vigilant to hang on to her current hard-won health. And, as you heard, she feels a real sense of mission to de-stigmatize mental illness generally, and bipolar disorder specifically, and I, for one, hope that this interview helps to further that goal.
You've been listening to Wise Counsel, a podcast interview series sponsored by Mentalhelp.net. If you found today's show interesting, we encourage you to visit Mentalhelp.net, where you can add a comment or question to this show's web page, view other shows in the series, or simply page through the site, which is full of interesting mental health and wellness content. Access the show's page and show archive information via the podcast box on the Mentalhelp.net home page.
If you like Wise Counsel, you might also like ShrinkRapRadio, my other interview podcast series, which is available online at www.shrinkrapradio.com. Until next time, this is Dr. David Van Nuys, and you've been listening to Wise Counsel.
Mary (Forsberg) Weiland was born and raised in San Diego, CA. At age 15, she was selected out of approximately 40,000 young girls across America to appear in a special issue of Seventeen magazine. Soon after, she became emancipated and began an eighteen-year modeling career, represented by some of the most prestigious agencies in the business. Mary's career as model took her around the world shooting campaigns for cosmetic giants such as Max Factor and Estee Lauder, as well as editorial photographs for magazines, including Cosmopolitan and Vogue.
At the age of 16, while working with the Bordeaux Agency in Los Angeles, Mary was assigned a driver named Scott Weiland, a then-struggling rock singer. After an on-and-off romance of eight years, they married in 2000, at the height of Scott’s success as the front man for Stone Temple Pilots, one of the most accomplished and successful rock groups of the 1990s.
Both Scott and Mary have struggled with a myriad of substance abuse problems during their life together. While Scott was constantly in the news for a series of drug-related arrests, Mary herself made seven separate visits to rehab centers to overcome various addictions. After a widely publicized incident in 2007 when Mary was arrested and incarcerated after lighting a fire to Scott’s wardrobe, she finally got the help she needed. This led to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Mary has ended her relationship with drugs and alcohol and turned her attention to helping others with bipolar disorder, which often goes undiagnosed. She attends LMU and is working toward a certificate in Drug and Alcohol Counseling with a focus on co-occurring disorders. She lives in Los Angeles with her two children, Noah and Lucy.