Joshua Marshall, 18, was recently charged with causing public panic related to the Ebola scare on a flight traveling from Florida to Vienna. However, he has since been released on bond following the incident. This is because Marshall has been suffering from symptoms of bipolar disorder and therefore, he did not have the Ebola virus and there was no real danger present. According to his lawyer, he has been in an especially distressed state, since his father passed away recently.
The plane landed in Vienna on Sunday and Marshall was released from jail later that evening. He had apparently vomited on the flight and made statements that he later had no recollection of making. The teen had been traveling alone after seeing his mother in Florida. He had been having seizures on the flight when he was removed from the plane. Marshall had also sent himself a text message saying that he had the Ebola virus. A crew boarded to clean the plane, though passengers were eventually allowed to depart after it was determined that there was no Ebola danger.
Marshall’s diagnosis of bipolar disorder naturally lead to this serious misunderstanding, and his family has stepped forward to apologize to those involved. Of course, Marshall did not have any ill intent with his actions. However, the coverage of Ebola in the news has lead people to be especially cautious regarding such matters. This incident may be regarded as an unfortunate coincidence, yet we can only hope that it doesn’t cause members of the public to discriminate against those with mental illness.
Bipolar disorder may be a much more common mental illness than one may be aware of. It affects more than five million Americans in total. Symptoms of the disease may begin in childhood or as late as middle age. It is equally common amongst men and women, while also affecting people of all different ethnicities. In addition, it is the sixth leading cause of disability worldwide.
Some are under the impression that bipolar disorder is simply another name for mood swings. However, the symptoms of the disorder are much more severe than that. They can interfere greatly with one’s personal life, as well as their professional or scholarly life. Many also believe that the switch between moods is quite abrupt, though this often not necessarily the case. Some also perceive that the sufferer is at least happy while in a state of mania. In reality, this stage can be frustrating because it is accompanied by a lack of self control. Those experiencing mania will often look back at their life later with regret at the damage that was caused.
One should not be quick to jump to conclusions about what a bipolar disorder diagnosis means. One can simply choose to focus on how Marshall inconvenienced his fellow passengers and therefore merely consider him a public nuisance. Or one may use incidents such as these as an opportunity to better educate themselves about awareness of mental illness. While the Ebola virus may be more visible in the news at the moment, it is bipolar disorder that is the far more likely illness to strike any of us.