Help Take Away the Burden and Secrecy of Mental Illness

A diagnosis has been enough without being burdened by secrecy and shame. Jane Pauley, television journalist who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Although we have made progress in our understanding, treatment, and acceptance of mental illness, we still have a long way to go. When any other organ is diseased or distressed, there is sympathy, understanding, and readily available treatment.

When the brain is diseased or distressed we frequently say, “Just get over it.” Or “You seem fine to me.” Sometimes, we think less of a person because they think or act in a way that is unclear to us. We need to champion the professionals and organizations who serve the misunderstood, unrecognized, and under-treated. 

Affirmation: I will champion people with mental disabilities and disease.

Coaching questions: How can you help a friend with mental illness come out from under the mantel of secrecy and shame? If you’re deeply depressed, suspect you’re bipolar, or have other possible mental health challenges, what’s keeping you from seeking professional help?


A Kite Without A String

A girl is like a kite, without her mother’s steady hold on the string, she might just float away, be lost somewhere among the clouds. Kristin Harrah author of The Great Alone

The Great Alone has several themes but the thread that runs through the story is that of an abusive, mentally ill father and husband. Later today I’m interviewing two young women who lost their mothers not to disease or even abandonment but to murder. Their mothers were murdered by their husbands, the daughter’s abusive step-fathers. Mother loss can leave a daughter feeling ungrounded, like a kite floating in space. An “on purpose” death, like murder and suicide, is a whole different dimension.

As I write my book on mother loss, I’m seeing how each daughter “speaks” to every other daughter who has experienced loss. Early mother loss feels especially tragic until one considers the meaning of abandonment or murder. A daughter losing her mother to dementia feels very alone but can appreciate the gift of having her mother for 60 or 70 years, an early loss daughter can hardly contemplate losing her mother “twice”…and so the circle continues.

Affirmation: I  learn from the experience of others.

Coaching questions: What life stories have spoken loudest to you? How have they made a difference in your life? How does your story help others?