An interview with personal trainer Beth Erlichman about having both a mother and a daughter with mental illness. Beth describes growing up with a mentally ill mother like living in a storm. At 16 she found a boarding school in another country as a way to get out and take care of herself. She grew up in a family that never [Read more…]
An interview with theologian and academic, Rosemary Radford Ruether about her son David’s schizophrenia and the challenges her family has faced in finding help for him to live a meaningful life. Professor Ruether described some of the early signs of David’s illness, along with his intelligence and creativity as demonstrated by his poetry. She describes their struggle [Read more…]
An interview with Cheryl Ramsay, about her two sons, one with schizophrenia who is in treatment and one with an undiagnosed mental illness and addiction who avoids the mental health system. Cheryl describes the gradual evolution of two joyous, outgoing, athletic boys into anxiety, abusing marijuana, paranoia, trouble with the law, hearing voices, multiple hospitalizations, and either group home living or homelessness. She describes the deep self-doubt she feels about whether she somehow could have made a difference at each step of the way. She notes, that she and her husband never imagined that mental illness would enter their family and how their thinking has evolved to understanding that mental illness can happen to anyone, even loving, involved, law-abiding parents. She describes NAMI’s (National Alliance on Mental Illness) family to family groups and how they made a huge difference to her in connecting with other families going through the same struggles. The can be found at www.namimaine.org
An interview with family educator, Valerie Gamache about her relationship with her mother who had bi-polar disorder. Valerie describes her mother’s illness and the frightening ways she could become suddenly violent and then have no memory for the episode. She reports the ways her family tried to keep, “the Big Secret” to the point that a friend thought her mother had actually died since Valerie spoke so little about her. She describes encounters with discrimination and prejudice that fuel this kind of silence. Valerie has taught numerous family to family classes through NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and spoke about her deep motivation that other families not have to go through what she did.
An interview with Alicia Barnes about her brother Josh Barnes who had schizophrenia. Alicia describes his fear that he had brought in on himself, and how much blame and judgment there is for mental illness. She describes his difficulty with taking medication, and how the medicines impacted his creativity and sense of purpose in writing and playing music. She describes the limits of his care and how he never had access to talk therapy, but only to 20 minute medication checks. She talks about how stigma resulted in his not talking about his illness and how that may ultimately have been lethal for him. She speaks movingly about becoming involved with Bring Change 2 Mind, a group devoted to helping reduce stigma and discrimination for people with mental illnesses.