Scarlet Sage Holvenstot’s journey — the one she will share in her one-woman show Tuesday at the Sheridan Opera House — began on Thanksgiving Day two years ago, when she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after a manic episode landed her in a hospital. From that moment to this day she’s detailed that journey, one she sums up this way: Two elections. Two manic episodes. Two trips to Europe. Three depressive episodes. Four psychiatric hospitalizations. One college degree. One survivor.
It’s the survivor we’ll see on stage Tuesday night. Scarlet grew up in the area and has called both Telluride and Ridgway home. Her mental health diagnosis was something that took her by surprise. She was overseas in Prague at the time.
“I was a happy kid,” she said. “My mood disorder took me by surprise when I was manic and ended up in a hospital. I had no idea what was going on … what was happening to me.”
Following her diagnosis, she embarked on a learning curve, one she will be sharing during her show. What she learned is a whole, new range of vocabulary and an understanding of the symptoms of being bipolar. Take hypomania, for example. As defined on Wikipedia it is: “ … a feature of bipolar II disorder and cyclothymia, but can also occur in schizoaffective disorder. Hypomania is also a feature of bipolar I disorder; it arises in sequential procession as the mood disorder fluctuates between normal mood (euthymia) and mania. Some individuals with bipolar I disorder have hypomanic as well as manic episodes. Hypomania can also occur when moods progress downwards from a manic mood state to a normal mood. Hypomania is sometimes credited with increasing creativity and productive energy. Numerous people with bipolar disorder have credited hypomania with giving them an edge in their theater of work.”
“I can offer an education and how to look out for symptoms and how to do something about it through lifestyle changes,” she said.
She was just 20 years old when she was diagnosed, on the younger side, but essentially in the range of when bipolar symptoms commonly make themselves known. Two percent of the population, Scarlet said, is bipolar. “So in Telluride, which has a population of about 2,000 people, 10 people are bipolar,” she said. And those are the just those who’ve been diagnosed.
At her side throughout this journey is her mother, Lynton Moore. “She’s been there for me the past five years,” Scarlet said. “We talk to each other every, single day.”
Moore is a therapist trained in psychological counseling, and Scarlet said that expertise has been extremely helpful. But, she added, it’s important to have a mother-daughter relationship outside the realm of therapy.
“We’re making some good boundaries,” Scarlet said.
Living with her diagnosis has been challenging, but being bipolar has not impeded her goals. “Just because you have a diagnosis doesn’t mean you can’t live out your dreams.”
Hers are in laser focus. She aspires to be an actress and model, and to that end, will be moving to Los Angeles at the end of December. She’s already had a second audition for “Real World,” an MTV reality show now in its 33rd season, under her belt and is hoping for a third.
She credits former Young People’s Theater director, Jen Nyman-Julia, for her love of acting. The YPT alumna is seasoned and comfortable on the stage, thanks to Nyman-Julia’s mentorship.
“I’ve always loved acting and Jen is responsible for that,” Scarlet said. “To entertain and tell a story … that’s so cool.”
And when Scarlet Sage takes the stage Tuesday evening, expect just that — a show.
“Yes, it’s about raising awareness through my experiences and learning the vocabulary (of being bipolar). It’s about reaching out so others can help themselves,” she said. “But this is a show. It’s funny and entertaining. I’ll be wearing a beautiful dress from Two Skirts, there’ll be shoe changes and Keith Hill is filming it.”
“2 Years,” takes place at the Sheridan Opera House. Doors are at 7 p.m., the show starts at 7:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public, and is appropriate for ages 13 and older.