“My mom was not a constant in our youth. Some days I would bask in her comfort and loving support only to find her distant and cold the next…At age 18, my older brother Calen suffered a severe mental breakdown that lead to a role reversal. My role model was gone and in his place was a frantic, scared and fragile boy rambling about aliens, surveillance cameras and notions about everyone being able to hear his thoughts. There was nowhere for him to escape.
“It is difficult to describe what you witness when someone is in the throes of a psychotic breakdown. There is a distinct characteristic about someone’s eyes. It is a stare that pierces your soul. . It is scary but it is even scarier when it is someone you love and you can feel and see the hell that they are in and there is nothing you can do.”
“I’ve always thought that the more sensitive a person is, the more susceptible they are to mental illnesses. A sick joke in our universe is that the more it allows a person to see its beauty and deep connectivity, the more difficult it becomes for that person to maintain good mental health.
“In our culture, we tend to treat this tradeoff with a fierce double standard. As long as they are sharing with us beautiful insights into humanity, we will love and cherish them as heroes, but if they fall into substance abuse, depression or any other form of mental illness, we tend to say, ‘It’s not our problem.’
“Classically, these are artists, musicians, writers, etc., but, of course, they come in all sorts, unsung or not. These people tend to add value and meaning to our lives. At their best, they are the types who make us laugh and cry, to learn and to take risks and to love. They are brave and it angers me that as a society, we abandon them when their skies darken.”
These beautiful words are from a short speech delivered by Sander Pick during a gala for Sound Mental Health, a private mental health provider in Seattle, Washington. Sander is Jessie Close’s second born son.
Jessie and her famous sister, the actress Glenn Close, speak out regularly about the need to educate the public about mental disorders. As most of you know, Jessie has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and Glenn has used her Hollywood star power to help found BringChange2Mind, an anti-stigma organization.
The Seattle gala was one of the first times that we’ve gotten to hear from Jessie’s adult children, Calen, Sander and Mattie. What a treat! Calen has a mental illness and in the past, he and his mother have appeared together. But Sander and Mattie aren’t usually on stage. That’s too bad. Both are eloquent and smart.
I’m grateful to all of them for having the courage and insight to educate and inspire us.
Happy Labor Day!