Congratulations, Keith Alan Hamilton!

My poet and walking friend, Keith Alan Hamilton, has just released his new book of poems: Peace Out Poems about My Abnormalities Normality. The poems are about stigma, mental illness - including depression and bipolar disorder, and suicide. "I hope for those who read it, it will be of benefit to them.  There is a huge stigma overshadowing those who suffer from mental conditions like depression or being bipolar.  Even more so for those who have committed suicide.  That reality will not change until my type of story is told and understood.  To me, the stigma overshadowing a day-to-day survivor is even worse.  When you are a depressive with thoughts of suicide cycling in your head day in and day out..... it is far harder to survive and keep going than it is to submit.   It is easier to be considered mentally ill and medicated, or to have taken ones life than being someone who successfully copes day-to-day and is a productive contributor to life.  If we are going to show others that … [Read more...]

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I did it. Seventeen miles in eight hours and still here.

A few thoughts about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention AFSP San Francisco Out of the Darkness suicide awareness and prevention walk this past Saturday night: Last year in Boston we felt the pain walking in the cold and rain; this year we felt the pain trudging up hill after hill. Those were just small reminders of the pain our loved ones felt and had to release when they took their lives. It was fitting for us to feel that pain, but we will never know an nth of it. I also felt so blessed to walk with Team S.O.L.E.S. Everyone took such good care of each other, worrying where the laggers were and waiting so we could all be in the mile-marker photos. And once we were finished at 3:26 am we all held hands, walking along side the luminaria and under the I-did-it-arch. Thank you Keith Alan Hamilton, Deborah Lee Rose, Debi Hoyles-Girardi and your friend Jen, Joanne Marrazzo Fry, Aaron D. Schwartz, Christy Heitger-Ewing and your husband Eric. You all made my night worth while … [Read more...]

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Book reviews – a roller-coaster ride

This week my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, received six new reviews for a grand total now of 198 reviews since its release in 2011. However, the reviews were not all good - three 2-stars and three 5-stars. Happily though, the week ended with two of the five-star reviews, leaving me with a huge sigh of relief. Even after all this time, my stomach turns over every time I see that a new review has been posted.  I don't suppose that feeling will go away as long as I put my writing out in public. Here are the two five-star reviews that came in, in the last two days. Thank you so much Sara and Joanne. Thank you for sharing your lives with my readers. Your words honor me and my book. A Must  Read: I found this book when I was still in the early stage of my son being diagnosed, fighting the struggle of his almost everyday behaviors, and at that point I was open to anything. Even with my son being substantially younger than Madeline's son, the book touched me and although I am for … [Read more...]

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What is stigma and how do we erase it?

In memory of our son Paul and his December 31st birthday, I like to share (again) another mental illness resource. The stigma of mental illness could turn deadly if we aren't educated.... A couple years ago my cousin came to our house to review and discuss the family history my husband had been writing. After reviewing the material he made one request – leave out the part about his father’s bipolar disorder. In fact he didn’t want to see any discussion of any of the mental illness that permeates my side of our family. That was proof enough for me that the stigma of mental illness still exists. Although my husband did not mention our family’s mental illness in the history, I openly discussed my grandmother’s, uncle’s, and mother’s mental illness in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On (now in paperback and eBook), and that I believe that their genes passed on bipolar disorder to my son. The most important way to erase stigma is to open the conversation about mental illness. T … [Read more...]

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Kudos to celebrities who work to erase stigma

Catherine Zeta-Jones checked into a mental health facility this Monday for bipolar disorder treatment. And I applaud her. She is proactive and committed to periodic care. What’s so important is that this news, so openly provided, helps erase stigma. "It’s not easy,” she says. “I’m not the kind of person who likes to shout out my personal issues from the rooftops, but with my bipolar becoming public, I hope fellow sufferers will know it’s completely controllable. I hope I can help remove any stigma attached to it, and that those who don’t have it under control will seek help with all that is available to treat it." Many other famous people have been afflicted with mental illness. The list is long. Some have managed to control their disease; others have not. I became interested in working to erase stigma after my son’s suicide as a result of his bipolar disorder. I wrote earlier about my conviction that his death might have been avoided had he not been affected by stigma. My b … [Read more...]

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What is Stigma and How Do We Erase It?

Here's another mental illness resource. The stigma of mental illness could turn deadly if we aren't educated.... A few months ago my cousin came to our house to review and discuss the family history my husband had been writing. After reviewing the material he made one request – leave out the part about his father’s bipolar disorder. In fact he didn’t want to see any discussion of any of the mental illness that permeates my side of our family. That was proof enough for me that the stigma of mental illness still exists. Although my husband did not mention our family’s mental illness in the history, I openly discussed my grandmother’s, uncle’s, and mother’s mental illness in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On (now in paperback and eBook), and that I believe that their genes passed on bipolar disorder to my son. The most important way to erase stigma is to open the conversation about mental illness. This conversation could cover several aspects: What are the causes of menta … [Read more...]

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Book clubs – a way to sell books

Two Tuesdays nights in a row I had the pleasure of being the guest of honor at book club discussions of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living With Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide (Lucky Press, 2011). Last week we had just a short question and answer discussion about the how I prepared the book and the benefits the writing of it had in my healing process. Only one person asked the questions. Last night in a room full of fifteen or so women, the questions kept flying from each one of them, starting with did I think I left anything out of the book to how do I feel twelve years later as I speak about the loss of my son. Does it still affect me emotionally? We also discussed what stigma is and does it still exist, psychopharmacology versus talk therapy, jails versus hospitals in caring for the mentally ill, and whether or not I think my son’s former girlfriend has read my book (I don’t think so, but of course I’ll never really know). … [Read more...]

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WOW blog tour stop No. 5

Today I'm visiting with Amanda Lebron and her blog Rage against the Washing Machine where I discuss: "Does the Stigma of Mental Illness Still Exist." Amanda is the mother of (in her own words): "a beautiful, vivacious ten year old daughter who has Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, and Asperger's. It is for her that I am on a mission to wash away the stains of mental illness and to soak you in all the knowledge I find along the way. I am here to tell you, you are not alone." I'm so pleased she invited me to help her wash away those stains. http://mommylebron.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/author-guest-post-madeline-sharples/ Please click on the link so you can see her beating her washing maching with a baseball bat. … [Read more...]

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