Tag Archive | Mental Illness

The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive – Stephen Fry

This is such a deeply, insightful documentary about the struggles a person goes through with Bi-Polar. It will go down a more tragic path as the film continues walking through these dark corridors into the psyche of various persons with this diagnosis. In between you hear from various psycho-professionals who treat this disorder. When he says “We do love our manic periods,” this is something I have heard many times from various clients or people I have known. In fact, this is the infamous stage when these people often do not believe they need medication because they are feeling themselves again. This is normal for a Bi-polar and one of the symptoms – not wanting to take their “meds.” It is normal because they don’t want to feel abnormal, which is what the medications cause them to feel.

It is important that he added the genetic aspect to this mental illness. Evidently the DNA researchers he went to and the brain scans don’t show a link from that perspective. However, research does seem to show that it runs in the family. I see this all the time with people and in fact, if they tell me they have it (from reading something online and w/o a diagnosis) but seem to have no family mental illness, I become suspicious. Generally, I will ask people if they ever had a “Crazy Aunt Sally,” or a family member who disappeared for awhile or who was known to be a little off. This is how I can find a possible mental illness connection. In the past, people might have been locked up or family would have joked about it (to avoid discussing the reality). I ask this with all my clients when doing a family history, not just people who’ve been reading about diagnoses online. Most people think “mood swings” mean they are Bi-Polar and generally these are people in their young twenties who are going through a difficult period in early adult hood or even teenagers who are frustrated with their family life.

I was pretty shocked to hear Stephen Fry say, at the end, that he hasn’t been on medications since his first diagnosis many years prior to making this film. Apparently, the end of Part 1 made him realize he should re-think this. What I think is very important is to have a psychological evaluation if you believe your child has some serious mental health issues to find a diagnosis. Then, I think it is important to re-test and get a new psychological evaluation when that same person is an adult. This is because it is often difficult to be sure about childhood mental illness (sometimes psychological professionals have a “go to” diagnosis) and because you test differently as an adult and you are a little more aware of yourself and your symptoms.  If you DO have a mental illness, you should have a psychiatrist that prescribes and monitors your medications (NOT a primary care physician). A psychiatrist specializes in mental illness, a PCP does not. This is why they are called a “general” practitioner. This also can prohibit being wrongly diagnosed and going through an even longer series of trials and tribulations with medications. I have heard stories of a family doctor asking five or six questions and then labeling the person with a diagnosis. A psychological evaluation is generally three sessions and ends up with a 13 page report based on the conclusions from the tests that were run. The “psych eval” as I call it, includes input from your psychotherapist, family, and other support people involved in the child or adults life. Another reason to go to a psychiatrist is that sometimes they will have psychotherapists on staff who partner with them. If not, it is best that you find a psychotherapist who specializes in your mental illness.


Stephen Fry has also made a Part II of this documentary, also available on YouTube and I have also seen a “Ten Years Later” after the making of this film.


Running from Crazy – For Families with Mental Illness

This is a trailer for the film “Running from Crazy.” A documentary about Mental Illness as told by Mariel Hemingway. After watching the trailer, you can download it from Netflix. It is worth watching if you have someone or several someones in your family who are mentally ill or an addict. If someone in your family is an addict, they are merely covering up what lurks deep beneath in the cesspools of their mind. Mental Illness, whether it is wrapped up in street pharmaceuticals, alcohol or prescriptions, is still mental illness.

Don’t be afraid to discuss your families problems. Out loud. Take the shame out of these words, stop the denial and help turn the family legacy around to a positive. With treatment, love, support and communication, this goes from being a stigma to a managed solution.

**Muriel will be here in Ohio with this movie shown at the McCoy Center on October 8th (2015) at 7pm for free. She will also be speaking that coming Tuesday, October 13th (2015) but you have to buy tickets on the website or through Capa Tickets.

Coping with a Mentally Ill Parent (or child)

Your childhood was bad enough, having to behave like an adult, caring for your parent. Now your siblings are either sick as well or not willing to take the burden on. You are stuck being the financial legal guardian or the one with the power of attorney. When is it your turn to be a child and take a break?

NAMI.org stands for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. Click on the link and then find the local chapter near you.  The local chapters are available to help families who are dealing with adults or children that have mental illness. This is not limited to any topic in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), call and ask them about your family’s situation. Generally speaking they provide education and also outreach through family support groups.

Disability – Is your parent (child) getting disability for their illness? It is much easier to get with children then it is with adults. Again, check with your local NAMI office to find out if they can assist you in understanding the system.

Social Services – There is an adult social services (as well as for children). They would much rather help a family before there is a crisis then when it happens. Prevention is a goal with these workers. Educating the public is their hope to make sure they don’t ever see you on their caseload. This is generally run by the county that you live in. Look up your county on-line and search for social services. Call them up and talk to them to find out what type of support is available to you. Don’t be afraid to let them in your home. If your situation is THAT bad, it is better that you invite them in then have the embarrassment of someone else doing it for you. And, it might not be as bad as you feel it is.

Respite Programs – Ask to see if daycare programs are available in your area.

Nursing Homes – It might be hard to do this and they may not want to go but if your family member is someone you are afraid to leave alone, they need assisted living. It is time you had a life of your own. These programs, social services, NAMI, they can all provide support on what is the best option for your family. They can also give some advice on financial assistance.

In the case of children, you would be look at very highly structured group homes or residential treatment facilities. If you or your families’ safety is at risk, you need help of an outside solution.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t become the martyr. Your own mental health is at risk when you are trying to play doctor, therapist, psychiatrist, and child at the same time. There are resources to help people and it is important to take advantage of them. While this is your parent and you love them dearly, their situation does not get better. You owe it to yourself and to your family member to make sure they are getting the best treatment available. This means working with professionals. It is time to let them go and accept that you have done the best you could. After you have got them into treatment, it is important that you then take care of your own mental health and get support for all this stress you have been under!