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 Julia Colpitts, the Executive Director of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence. Julia affirms that Maine has reached a tipping point, where the recent murders of wives by their husbands has made it clear to everyone that change needs to happen. We discussed the current legislation that is pending in Maine to prevent offenders from being let out on bail without a criminal background check, that includes strangulation as a prosecutable offense, and that mandates a risk assessment to identify those abusers most at risk for lethal violence. Julia reports the ways that the mental health community has not always served victims well, by failing to do risk assessments, or by referring to couples therapy which can put the woman more at risk for violence. Julia describes the importance of engaging men to speak out clearly and powerfully about the necessity of treating women with love and respect.
An interview with David Moltz about his experience of being a psychiatrist. David talked about his reasons for going into psychiatry and the things he finds most difficult about the profession and the things he loves. He spoke about the use of power, the difficulty of deciding whether to commit someone to a hospital, how he listens to a suicidal patient and the importance of being present in the midst of someone’s pain. David also talked about the differences between the culture of mental health, and the culture of substance abuse treatment or recovery models of care. He also talks about the corruption of psychiatry by the pharmaceutical industry and how this has brought us back to the importance of human relationship in healing.
An interview with author, Christiane Wells about her experience living with bipolar disorder and addiction. Chris describes ten years spent in and out of psychiatric hospitals addicted to crack, not taking her medication and struggling with suicide. She began to get better when she decided that maybe she was not damaged after all and could give herself a shot at having a real life. She describes feeling bullied and shamed into taking her medication by doctors while in hospital. The side effects of her medications were sometimes so bad she felt she would rather die than take them. She discovered that as she started taking care of herself, protecting her sleep and creating more stability in her life, she actually needed less medication, and found it easier to take.