What happens when author Patrick Tracey crisscrosses the United States, seeking to tell the stories of multiplex families like his own in order to tell the wider story about the world’s 4th most disabling illness?
This blog will record Patrick’s journey, in his own words, as he takes this journey through the United States and shares the stories of people and their families living with mental illness.
About Patrick Tracey… In His Own Words
My book “Stalking Irish Madness: Searching for the Roots of My Family’s Schizophrenia” was the improbable winner of the 2009 PEN New England/LL Winship Award for Nonfiction, but I have a confession to make: It was not the book I wanted to write.
Because when I heard that the first gene link had been isolated from blood samples drawn from a few hundred families in County Roscommon, Ireland, I naively assumed the Irish would talk to me about it. After all, they are my people, right? The world’s most loquacious, right? Wrong.
When it comes to talking about mental illness, the Irish always suddenly have to be some place else. “And why would you be wantin’ to know?” was the supsicious, gimlet-eyed question I got back at the mere mention of the dread word schizophrenia. Stuffed I was, over and over and over again. The Irish will talk your ear off about anything else. Mention mental illness and you get the classic Irish freeze out from behind clenched teeth.
But I myself am Irishly stubborn or stubbornly Irish or something. So in my quest to make sense of multigenerational schizophrenia in my family, I’m still trying to get people to talk about. This time I’m zeroing in on the multiplex families like my own for another book, hoping to make contact online and meet in person at least for a cuppa tea and a black and white interview for an accompanying collective documentary archive on what pscyhosis means to you.
I wouldn’t be dropping in unannounced, of course. Before I even call ahead, I’ll be blogging ahead, as it were. That’s what the No Family Madder blog is all about.
I have been inspired by President Obama’s challenge on June 3 to elevate the national conversation around mental illness to “bring mental illness in from the shadows.”
As he spoke in the White House Rose Garden, I thought of families as hard hit as our own. Then I had this image of all of us visiting the White House one day, knocking on the door to greet the president himself with the famous words from the civil rights era: If not us, then who? If not now, when?
Call it the audacity of psychosis!
I am excited about hitting the road again, meeting families like my own from all different backgrounds. Please email me if you’d like to have your stories told at [email protected] and I’ll be happy to send you a free copy of my first book. Consider it a calling card of sorts for the No Family Madder project. I only ask that you tell me in your email what mental illness means to you.
And don’t worry, you’re anonymity will be protected as we go forward together in telling our stories, all the way to the White House. Anonymity is the touchstone of trust going forward. I get that. I really do.