An anonymous interview with Rachel about her son’s severe depression and multiple suicide attempts. Rachel described the precipitous descent into depression that seemed to swallow her previously sunny, confident, artistic boy. She names the terrible and confusing sense of ambiguous loss [Read more…]
An interview with social worker and trainer, Liz Brenner about some of the challenges of having a Dad with bi-polar disorder. Liz describes the ways that her parents sheltered her from the realities of her father’s illness, and the ways in which not talking about it was both a confusing secret and also quite protective. She describes his suicide attempt when she was 20, and how living with the fear of losing him was a form of relational trauma. She experienced first hand how the stigma and trauma of mental illness resulted in her father “trying to prove he was sane by avoiding all mental health professionals for 20 years.” She also reports the difficulty of making peace with her father after a manic episode because he did not remember all the unfortunate and sometimes violent things he had done. Liz ended by describing ways that mental health professionals can make a difference by including families, listening to them, treating them with respect and taking their reports of danger and risk seriously.
An interview with broadcaster, author and former Jesuit Priest, Neil McKenty about how his expectations about aging have matched up with his own experience of growing old. The interview was recorded during the summer of 2010, in Neil’s 85th year of life. He talks about his approach to his own death, his regrets, how sex evolves with age, the evolution of his beliefs about the afterlife, and what he fears most about aging. Neil was an inspiration for the creation of Safe Space, and a consultant to the show since its inception in 2008. We were honored to have his guidance all these years, and his ongoing encouragement to “keep it real.” The show is aired as a tribute to Neil who died on May 12, 2012.
An interview with psychologist and researcher, Dr. Nancy Kassam-Adams about children’s medical experiences as a source of PTSD. Nancy, gave helpful suggestions for how parents can identify trauma in their kids after painful medical procedures or hospitalizations. She told a story of a child injured in a hit and run car accident, where the parents greatest difficulty had to be coming to terms with an adult who could leave her child, and the child’s biggest fear had to do with waking up alone at night in the hospital. We especially talked about the ways that hospitals are moving to make pediatric care more “trauma informed” (sensitive to the possibility of trauma), working not to separate children from their parents, and measuring the D, E, F’s of care: remember to assess and treat Distress, provide Emotional Support and, to include the Family. Nancy described an innovative program to treat adolescent cancer survivors and their families. Lastly, she offered two resources: www.aftertheinjury.org for parents, and www.healthcaretoolbox.org for professionals.
An interview with film-maker Nancy Andrews about her experience as a patient in the surgical ICU. Nancy describes the ICU as a torture chamber, where if you didn’t know they were saving your life, you’d think they were trying to kill you. She describes becoming delirious under the influence of painkillers and sedatives, and gives a vivid description of the hallucinations and fears that followed. Upon her release from the hospital Nancy noticed that she kept having “weird experiences”as if she was back there,” which her doctor fortunately recognized as flashbacks from PTSD. Nancy’s film, On a Phantom Limb, explores the horror and disorientation of being an ICU patient. She says that while she is “unable to bear watching scenes of surgery or the physical restraint of others, making a film about it was empowering because I was in full control of the film, in ways that I was out of control as a patient.” She is passionate about getting the message out that PTSD after the ICU is common, and that early identification and treatment can make a tremendous difference.