Last night, as I watched the red carpet and cheered for Oscar favorites, I took intermittent breaks to look over the listing of entries to name an Academy Award winner for Familiar Minds. Of course, it took me only a second to realize that all of my writers were winners for their courage and honesty in sharing a bit of themselves, helping to chip away at the mental illness stigma little by little. Even as I know this, I was curious on which posts were most viewed and thought I would share the list with you. Here’s the list of top 10 most viewed. Continue Reading →
Ms. James and Ms. Williams drew inspiration from each other through their sharing of theories, thoughts and writings on the intersections of family and psychopathology, blackness, femininity, youth culture and the Caribbean experience in America. Their richest exchange was a correspondence spanning two years which focused on the impact of their upbringing on the women they grew to become. Tracy passed away on November 14, 2011. Her legacy lives in the hearts of people she ignited and in the conversations she birthed in love, passion, dignity and selflessness.
Ms. Williams’ recollection of Ms. James is written with the kind of harsh personal truth Tracy encouraged.
In Loving Memory of Tracy
Walking through Penn Station with slow heavy steps, dragging a body weighted with emotions as rapid successions of busy passengers buzz about eagerly running away from homes they no longer want to run to… the sounds of a solitary keyboard pour forth melancholy Christmas music from the warped hands of a dwarfed busser.
This is what Tracy Ginger James was like. Intense. Conflicting. Sensational. Invigorating. Depressing. And way too crowded with occurrences to have a sense of clarity or semblance of order. Continue Reading →
My colleague Dr. Aletha Maybank introduced me to Hakeem in her article Weathering our Personal Storms. For anyone who suffers with bipolar disorder and for those who may have a family member or friend who is living with a mental illness, Hakeem’s story will surely rejuvenate you. His honest sharing more importantly lifts up a conversation and gives all hope and courage to seek support if we need it.
“Never Give Up.” Three bold words written across my favorite SGI International t-shirt. The simple phrase resonates with a lesson that I learned from living with bipolar disorder: be relentless. Living with bipolar disorder for twelve and a half years made me relentless in never giving up on myself, in fully pursing my spirituality, and in never giving up on others. Continue Reading →
Check out the repost of Mental Illness: A Misunderstood Disease in Bed Stuy Patch. Thanks to their Local Voices column for allowing me to lift up this important dialogue in one community. Earlier this year, Bed Stuy Patch’s Local Voices also gave me the forum to post: What If We Spoke About Mental Illness in Our Communities? So, thanks Bed Stuy Patch and C. Zawadi Morris.
I met Jen a little over a year ago at a leadership seminar hosted by the organization where I work in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. I immediately connected with her and her young daughter Dawn. Little did I know, Jen and I would share a deeper connection over both having a loved one with mental illness. In this piece, Jen takes on the many misconceptions about mental illness. An honest reflection on one’s own misconceptions and ignorance is most definitely a prerequisite for eliminating the stigma of mental illness.
Mental Illness: A Misunderstood Disease
If you think mental illness is like the 1970s Jack Nicholson movie, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” then you may need to update your knowledge of mental illness. Like Beyonce said, “Let me upgrade you.” There are many books and organizations to help you learn more about this misunderstood illness. Understanding the kinds of depression have become more accepted, but more progress needs to be made. Continue Reading →
Here is another poem by Elizabeth Swann. Her last submission Geology is one of Familiar Minds’ most popular posts. In this poem, a mother’s love endures heartwrenching moments watching her son’s pain. Elizabeth reports that her son is doing well now.
The dog has mastered it
beautifully. God, what a gift.
If only I could stay,
in the just-now Continue Reading →
There is no way that my words could match the emotions that Leon’s post evokes in me. So, I won’t try.
While you can read Leon’s bio below, I’d like to tell you who he is to me. A friend from high school, Leon was the quintessential genius and nerd. Fondly, I recall how my friend Cheryl and I harangued Leon into tutoring us in Honors Chemistry. I also think back warmly at the recollection of my brother Tim and Leon’s occasional chess game in the local library. Thanks Leon for sharing the story about your aunt Glenda. It truly honors her life, Tim’s and all those who suffer and have endured the pain of mental illness.
Can you tell?
Can you tell if someone’s going to commit suicide? Often, no. Sometimes it is blindingly obvious, now that so many more of us know so much more about suicide. I’m sure that the spread of this knowledge has headed off many suicides, just because more people know what to look for, and (to a certain extent) what to do. This essay is the story of a time when people didn’t know such things, in large part because no one talked about them.
For years, growing up, I thought that this photo was my mother’s sister Glenda, who committed suicide when she was seventeen. It turns out that this is actually my mother, who has now lived about 60 years beyond the time of this photo, and about 55 beyond the time of Glenda’s suicide. I found this out when scanning a bunch of family photos, when I mistakenly identified this one. My mother corrected me, and I followed up by asking her more about Glenda. This is what I learned: Continue Reading →
I just subscribed to On Call in the City with Dr. Aletha Maybank. I did so because I know and respect the blog’s namesake, and just wanted to support a community colleague who is in the business of making an impact. I now love Dr. Maybank’s blog. In her post, Weathering Our Personal Storms, she reflects on the devastation of families and property that she witnessed over the past couple of days while assisting with NYC’s emergency relief efforts for Hurricane Sandy. But, then she brilliantly connects today’s storm with her own life lessons and experiences in order to remind us all that we should take proactive and preventive steps to guard our mental health. Read on…..
There is not much I can say about this piece other than I am so grateful for Nicolas ….for his submission, his honesty, his courage. Like so many of my other submissions, this one moves me to tears, but also moves me to hope. It has the same bittersweet poignance of my first submission Bee’s Nest where my friend Bethany also comes to terms with a mother’s illness that can’t be explained like cancer but indeed takes a brutal family toll.
The Other Cancer
My grandmother had cancer. The narrative was straightforward. Cigarettes led to lung cancer. The chemotherapy didn’t work. Then she died. She nor I were ashamed of that simple story.
My mother’s story is more complicated but I try to pretend her afflictions are as simple. When someone asks about her, I tell the truth. She’s not okay. She’s depressed. I may add that she has dementia induced by alcohol abuse and she lives in a locked nursing facility. Probably for the rest of her life. I am honest for at least two reasons. Continue Reading →
I know this author who chooses to remain anonymous. I also know his sister. It has been several years now since this incident. The author’s sister has learned to cope with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). She has since graduated from college, and is pursuing a career in the fashion industry.
In the 2004 film The Aviator, Howard Hughes is shown in his screening room fully naked, his hair grown extensively long, unshaven watching the same movie over and over. Howard Hughes had obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD for short. OCD affects about 3.3 million adults in the U.S. The disorder usually first appears around childhood, adolescence or early childhood.
Last July my sister wasn’t acting like herself; she had become very erratic waking up in the middle of the night, knocking on the doors of our neighbors. She’d beg them to take her to the hospital. My sister believed she had a life threatening illness and that she needed to be taken to the hospital right away. She would go to the hospital only to be told nothing was wrong. This would go on for about a week. When I ask her about this now she says, “I knew it was crazy, but I had to keep going to get assurance that nothing was wrong.” Continue Reading →