An interview with actress Glenn Close about her sister Jessie’s bipolar disorder, and how the stigma of mental illness impacts whole families. Glenn describes the remorse she feels for not being able to be a more protective older sister as her 9 years younger sister Jessie was growing up. She describes the way [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 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.
An interview with Deb, the author of the blog, Living in Stigma. Deb describes her experience of feeling written off by the mental health system after multiple psychiatric hospitalizations and 77 ECT treatments failed to help her. After being willing to try anything that might help her she met a new psychiatrist who took a real interest in her, spending time getting to know her, and letting her know he believed in her. This was a turning point for her, when she began to get up each day and do something no matter how depressed she felt. Deb describes the stigma of living with a mental illness and how unsafe she feels to share it with colleagues at work, for fear they will no longer take her seriously as a legitimate person.