I wrote a letter on January 21, 2013 to Deborah "Sunny" Mentelson, a Clinical Social worker of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore Maryland, thanking her for sharing a copy of her book Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness with me. I highly recomment the book. Here is the letter:
Thank you for sharing with me your copy of Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness. Although I have heard so many personal true, real life horror stories from those taking the Family to Family class that I teach through NAMI, it is always difficult emotionally to hear yet another one. Pete Earley’s book is right on! Journalistically accurate.
Two things strongly spoke to me through the book: “In the end, Mullen himself stripped away the mystery of why Passageway works. The answer proved to be rather basic. He created a community where the mentally ill ARE NOT ALONE, a community that genuinely cares about how the weakest among us are treated.” (page 358)
I have made attempts to make the religious communities aware of mental illness, because they are usually community based, community minded, should understand the principles of “grace” and “mercy”, both of which are needed to make a community reaching out to the mentally ill work. I have written over 31 blogs on the topic of Mental Health & the Church’s view on my blog site, fiverevealed.com. Check the “categories” menu on the right side of the page under “mental illness”.
I will echo Earley’s cry that we need to “created a community where the mentally ill ARE NOT ALONE, a community that genuinely cares about how the weakest among us are treated.” That is a powerful message.
I just listened to Obama’s Presidential Inauguration speech and the voice of the mentally ill has been lost on Capital Hill again in spite of the Sandy Hook massacres. Gun control is the political hot button. Bottom line: a disease killed a mother, her ill son, and numerous children and teachers. The disease caused the tragic results. We in the mental health world know the ill one would have found another weapon to fulfill his delusion if untreated. If we do not want another massacre to happen, then we must deal with the issue of Mental Health in America! It is imperative for our safety and the safety of all involved.
The other strong impact on me was the last line of the book: “I had my son back.” I gasped when I read it and cried. The cruel reality of mental illness is the “detachment” it brings to its victims: the one ill, the loved ones who support him/her, and those around them who they affect. My manuscript that I gave you, Stripped, supports that reality in my life. All of us who have loved ones who fight mental illness dream of having our loved one “back” again. Recently facing my father’s death, having to give his eulogy at his memorial service, the hardest emotional thing for me was attending the memorial service with out my wife by my side or emotionally being able to give me comfort in the time of need. I was by her side in the ECT Recovery Room the moment he passed away, yet she was not able to be by my side physically or emotionally the day we honored and celebrated his life. Grieving the living who are mentally ill is harder then grieving the dead, for at least with the dead there is finality; with mental illness there is no end, only continual loss of the one living facing mental illness.
Again, thanks for sharing the book and your care and concern with and for me. We in the mental health world face it daily and need to continually support one another through our journeys, no matter clinically, professionally, or personally.