Almanac

News - February 17, 2010

Obituary: Megan Mitchell lived for years with bipolar disease

by Dave Boyce

The 17-year ordeal of living with bipolar disease is over for Megan Mitchell.

Ms. Mitchell, the daughter of Kent and Jo Ann Mitchell of Portola Valley and a graduate of Ormondale, Corte Madera and Woodside High schools, has died, apparently by her own hand, at the age of 34.

A memorial service is set for noon on Saturday, Feb. 20, at Family Farm at 1400 Portola Road in Woodside.

Deputies from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office found Ms. Mitchell's body beneath the Eugene Doran Bridge in San Mateo shortly after midnight on Wednesday, Feb. 10. Her vehicle was parked nearby.

Ms. Mitchell endured rapid and frequent mood swings, her father said in an interview. Her medications, meant to create stability, sometimes worked and sometimes didn't, but she always cooperated and was "religious" about following her treatment regime, said Mr. Mitchell, who is a former mayor of Portola Valley.

"We're devastated," Mr. Mitchell said. "This disease is insidious. It got to the point where the collective effect of the drugs began to do things to her physical well being. There were no options. It was awful."

"She just was a beautiful girl and she just couldn't go on," he said. "It just becomes overwhelming. She was so brave. I mean I could never have done what she did. No amount of money could have made me fight as long as she fought."

Ms. Mitchell was diagnosed at 17 and lived with her condition through another year and a half of high school, four years at the University of California at Berkeley, and after she graduated with a bachelor of science degree in forestry and water conservation, her father said.

She loved horses, hiking, the ocean and the family cabin in Sonoma County, he said. She had all the psychological help available, he added.

"As difficult as it's been, we were blessed to have 17 years" to work with her and support her and give her every opportunity, Mr. Mitchell said. "I wouldn't trade places, if you know what I mean. ... It is what it is, and we did our best and she did her best."

Ms. Mitchell is also survived by her older brother Adam Mitchell of Los Altos.

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