17 thoughts on “The Face of Mental Illness: Celebrity Edition

  • August 5, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    To defend ourselves from stigma, we are probably causing the deaths of thousands of inmates on a yearly basis. Do you think that anybody that performs such horrible crimes are “normal”? I have bipolar 1 plus several personality disorders due to severe childhood trauma. I’ve survived by learning that my parents were mentally-ill. You are going the wrong way trying to convince the public that we are normal too. Trying to distance ourselves from criminals is like covering sunlight with a finger. Because EVIL per se does not exist; s/he who kills has some lose screw up there. Read “The Brain has a Mind of Its Own.” It’s a shame we are going this direction. We should have a campaign to practice IMPULSE CONTROL.

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    • August 5, 2013 at 6:08 pm

      You are going the wrong way trying to convince the public that we are normal too. Trying to distance ourselves from criminals is like covering sunlight with a finger.

      I’m not sure I understand, Mars. Are you saying people with mental illness are not “normal”? (For the record, I don’t subscribe to the idea of anyone being “normal”; I don’t believe there is such a thing.) It sounds as if you’re saying people with mental illness aren’t normal and are prone to criminal activity.

      THAT is the direction we are trying to turn away from.

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      • August 6, 2013 at 9:23 am

        The US Supreme Court definitively lined mental illness and crime, when it declared “felons and ‘the’ mentally ill” in Heller and in Macdonald. ho is to question the US Supreme Court.

        The phrase, “felons and ‘the’ mentally ill has been repeated so often since that the words are fully established in people’s minds they have not been challenged.

        “Felons and ‘the’ mentally ill, crime and illness married in two decisions from the highest court in the US.

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      • August 8, 2013 at 5:37 pm

        I can speak to this on another level. My brother, who had a severe form of schizophrenia, certainly wasn’t “normal”, and to pretend he was, was to deny him the supports he needed to live as independently as possible in the community.

        When he was receiving the highest level treatment and supports, he was the most healthy, both in mind and body.

        When he didn’t receive the highest level of supports, his mind and body suffered. When his mind suffered, it caused behaviors that were socially unacceptable and possibly dangerous to him and others. During a time where he was living in an ill-monitored “assisted living” apartment complex, he asked a 13-yr old girl to his apartment to watch tv once and we were glad she said no – I can’t say she would have been raped, but his sense of how to behave towards women was not advanced since he was 16 and I can’t be sure he wouldn’t have tried something.

        We must also remember there are hundreds of thousands of people with psychotic illnesses who do not have their psychosis under control. Either they are not treated, undertreated (like my brother was sometimes) or are treatment resistant (like my brother was). Untreated mental illness is caused by a system that would allow someone who is in the throes of a brain attack to refuse treatment. This would not happen if someone was having a heart attack. Sure most people want treatment, but I will guarantee you that if they refused while in the throes of having a heart attack, the person would at least be taken to the hospital – unless the person already had a DNR type order – and once the heart attack symptoms were stabilized, then and only then would the person’s wish to refuse treatment be granted. This is not the case for people in the throes of brain attacks – and the brain is THE most important organ in our body!

        I know someone who was treated involuntarily when she was in a state of confusion during a diabetic episode. Lack of insight when someone is having a psychotic episode is common and the person should not be allowed to refuse treatment, unless they have a DNR, just like someone having a heart attack. Now, whether or not they should be forced meds is a different conversation for another day.

        In addition, for some, like my brother, this lack of insight can be permanent. About half of all of the almost 3 million people who have schizophrenia also have this lack of insight either temporarily or permanently. What this means is that they do not understand that the delusions and hallucinations is indeed psychosis. This lack of insight alone increases the risk of violence in some people with serious mental illness, because they do not understand that their delusions are just that – delusions. James Holmes is a case in point. I believe his doctor did not go far enough after his death threat to her. She should have gone to the authorities and not depend on the campus rent-a-cops.

        I think that what he is saying is that we should all be well aware that there are some disorders that increase the potential risk of violence – but they cannot be painted as THE face of mental illness, either.

        The bottom line is that early interventions and a better continuum of care is what we need to prevent as much violence as possible.

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      • August 8, 2013 at 5:48 pm

        […] but they cannot be painted as THE face of mental illness, either. The bottom line is that early interventions and a better continuum of care is what we need to prevent as much violence as possible.

        Agreed.

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  • August 5, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    I’m trying hard to find people who are doing well with their treatment plans and are willing to ‘out themselves’ as mentally ill. We need more faces of the truly mentally ill, so people can learn that we’re average people too. We work, go to school, raise families, get married, and are generally productive members of society. Getting these particular people to speak out is nigh on impossible because they don’t want to face the stigma surrounding MI. I speak up and stand out by advocating in my community, but I’m just one person. If more people were comfortable about disclosing their mental health status, then those judgmental people would have heart attacks because they’d see that people with MI are just like them in many ways. I have no problems outing myself. If you want to know what it’s like being a mum with bipolar disorder, you can read about it at www(dot)beingmebeingbipolar(dot)blogspot(dot)com. I have no problems sharing my story with the world, especially if there’s the chance it could help someone.

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    • August 5, 2013 at 6:13 pm

      I sincerely appreciate what you’ve shared Demosthenes, and that you took the time to share it. I agree wholeheartedly. I understand that a person’s health — mental or physical — is that person’s business, but I also think if there was less “secrecy” surrounding mental illness — if people talked about it as openly as they do diabetes or cancer — there would be fewer misinformed people and mental illness would become less scary (and stigmatized). Thank you for sharing! (P.S. Are you involved with any mental health organizations, like NAMI or the DBSA?)

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      • August 5, 2013 at 6:29 pm

        Yes! I am actively involved with NAMI, in fact, I’m on the board for my local affiliate. I’m also a trained BRIDGES instructor. I’m taking the training to become a Connections facilitator and a Basics teacher later this month.

        I also volunteer with the AFSP and am currently working on putting together an anti-bullying/suicide prevention presentation together for grade schools here in Utah. I’m very passionate about suicide prevention and believe that putting a stop to the bullying will reduce suicide rates among teens and tweens. I’m also working on a book about bipolar disorder that I hope to get published one day. So I guess you could say I’m definitely an advocate for the mentally ill, and I walk the walk as well as talk the talk, lol.

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      • August 7, 2013 at 3:37 pm

        Go you! Utah is fortunate to have you, and I’m betting your passion has caught on and will continue to spread. I used to lead a NAMI affiliate; loved it for a couple of years but then I made a few moves and wasn’t able to keep it up. Fortunately someone else was able to take over 🙂 Coincidentally, that’s what led to my online advocacy efforts!

        Keep up the awesome work!

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  • August 6, 2013 at 9:25 am

    typos corrected

    The US Supreme Court definitively lined mental illness and crime, when it declared “felons and ‘the’ mentally ill” in Heller and in Macdonald. Who is to question the US Supreme Court.

    The phrase, “felons and ‘the’ mentally ill has been repeated so often since that the words are so fully established in people’s minds they have not been challenged.

    “Felons and ‘the’ mentally ill, crime and illness married in two decisions from the highest court in the US.

    Reply
    • August 7, 2013 at 3:29 pm

      Who is to question the US Supreme Court.

      Heh. Indeed.

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  • August 7, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    I sent NBC a picture of me and my 9 siblings. We represent many faces of mental illness…schizophrenia, bipolar, depression, anxiety/ptsd, and addiction. None of us are kidnappers and murderers.

    Since Castro had no diagnosis – or even if he did – of mental illness, he cannot “arguably be the face of mental illness”. There is no face of mental illness – there are millions of faces of mental illness.

    The only significant tie to violence and mental illness is for a small segment of people with serious, UNTREATED, mental illness where they lack insight to understand they are sick. Still, the vast majority are more likely to be a victim of violence than a perpetrator of it, but the sensational cases make it seem that this is the “normal” for “crazy” people.

    Jared Loughner and James Holmes were cases in point of the former. The mental health “system” failed in both cases. Various points of contact with these individuals failed to recognize the seriousness of what can “arguably” be called brain attacks. The Director of the National Institute of Mental Health likened psychosis to heart attacks in that they both damage functioning of their respective organs. Hence the NIMH is pushing for early detection and interventions. What happened to Holmes and Loughner, especially, caused prolonged psychosis, which only increased their risk of becoming dangerous to themselves or others.

    But since Brian Williams has dubbed Castro the “face of mental illness”, people will continue to assume we are all kidnappers and will continue to look at our behaviors as the problems and not the mental illnesses themselves.

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    • August 7, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      Ilene, I am so grateful for you taking the time to send that picture, and to share this comment with us. I am going to tweet this and share what you’ve done with others. I commend you for taking action!

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      • August 7, 2013 at 4:15 pm

        Thank you! Please visit my website – to learn more about my twin brother Paul, who had schizophrenia. Paul became ill in the 1970’s and so we saw the change from institutionalization to the disaster of a community mental health “system” we see today. I am not saying I liked the former. I say we need something completely different.

        I saw the state hospital as a jail while Paul was there, but as a safe haven while he struggled in the community. There has to be an in-between for those like Paul who are the most seriously disabled from their illness, for whatever the reason. This is a small, but significant segment of the population who have a serious mental illness, especially those, like Paul, who had no clue there was anything wrong with him, even when he had cancer.

        If you go to the Info page of Paul’s Legacy Project, there is a link to Paul’s story, published in Psychiatric Services in August of 2010.

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    • August 8, 2013 at 8:18 am

      Ilene
      your article is pretty much right on. My feelings are that the news media are too anxious in sensationalizing these kinds of stories. They never really explain the truth about MI.
      As for Brian Williams maybe if he researched MI a bit more he wouldn’t be so quick to make ridiculous statements. Being depressed in my case was feeling like your in a room with no doors or windows and can’t find your way out. I have come across an article that says it best,
      ” The worst phase of my Life was not when others didn’t understand my action it was when I didn’t understand my actions”. It is forums such as this and learning about MI that helps the most. Thanks for your post.

      Reply
  • August 10, 2013 at 5:36 am

    Was curious to learn more about Blueprint for Hope — when I attempted to access the site, I was given an “opportunity” to create this website for $97.

    Anyone know what happened to this project?

    Reply
 

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