First Look at RESILIENCE — Jessie Close’s Memoir About Mental Illness, Addictions & Recovery


RESILIENCE: Two Sisters and A Story of Mental Illness, the memoir which I helped Jessie Close write, will officially go on sale January 13rd, but can now be found in many bookstores and, of course, can be ordered online.

I suggested that Jessie write a memoir after hearing her speak in 2012 at a National Alliance on Mental Illness event about her recovery from mental illness and co-occurring drug and alcohol addictions. I was deeply moved by her story and by how her family, especially her famous sister, the actress Glenn Close, supported her through a series of crises. It was Jessie who first asked Glenn to help fight stigma, a request that sparked the creation of  the advocacy group, BringChange2Mind.

Our literary agent, David Vigliano, notified publishers and we were fortunate enough to secure Deb Futter, a Vice President and Editor and Chief of Hardcovers at Grand Central Publishing, as the book’s editor.

I believe Jessie’s brutal honesty and RESILIENCE will inspire and help others.  I hope after reading the PROLOGUE, you will want to continue reading her amazing story.

RESILIENCE: Two Sisters and A Story of Mental Illness

By Jessie Close with Pete Earley

“She is not an ordinary or ‘run-of-the-mill” human being…” from an analysis of my handwriting when I was seventeen.


“Kill yourself!” “Kill yourself!” “Kill yourself!”

I couldn’t stop the voice. It was stuck in my skull like a bad song, playing over-and-over-and-over again.

“Kill yourself! Kill yourself! Kill yourself!”

Those commands were being screamed at me by The Creature. It was pure evil. It was in my head just behind my left ear. It was terrifying. Worse, it would not stop screaming.

“Kill yourself! Kill yourself!”

The Creature was relentless. 24/7.

I had to silence it and there was only one way. I had to kill The Creature and there was only one way to do that. I would have to kill myself.

I’d already thought about different ways to commit suicide. I think most people who consider it put a lot of thought into the best way to end their lives. I knew a handgun would be the quickest, but I’d also considered getting stumbling drunk and lying down in the creek that flowed near my house in the Montana foothills. If I did this during the winter, I would freeze to death. Pills and booze were another possibility. I’d imagined myself driving my truck to Meadow Lake or Hylite Reservoir or Sureshot Lake, armed with a bottle of muscle relaxers and fifth of vodka. I’d sit on an inflated inner tube, paddle far enough away from shore that I couldn’t possibly swim back and begin gulping down pills with swigs of booze. When I began feeling them kick in, I would slide into the cold water. In that inebriated state, it would be impossible for me to climb back onto a slippery tube or even hang on to it.

I’d drown. The Creature would finally shut up.

I’d thought about each method in intimate detail, going over each scenario repeatedly, carefully refining each step. I could see myself raising a pistol to my mouth and squeezing the trigger, leaning into a shotgun and squeezing the trigger, lowering myself into the freezing stream in the winter or floating dead in the lake. Each time I imagined one of those images, they seemed less frightening. Even comforting. Until I’d reached the point where the idea of killing myself seemed inevitable.

“Kill yourself! Kill yourself! Kill yourself!”

SHUT UP! I’m thinking about it! I silently screamed back.

“Kill yourself! Kill yourself! Kill yourself!”

When would The Creature stop?

My thirteen year-old daughter, Mattie, had no idea The Creature was tormenting me. Mattie was a beautiful girl with curly long blonde hair and a sweet face. Would she understand why I’d killed myself? I couldn’t tell her about The Creature. She wouldn’t understand. I also was afraid. I didn’t want to risk making The Creature even angrier.

Mattie had just walked to the main house to say goodbye to her grandparents. I was waiting outside near a two bedroom guest house on their property a few miles outside Big Piney, Wyoming, a town of about six hundred people. Big Piney is a ranching community and the numbers of cows, horses and dogs greatly outweighs the humans. Mom and Dad—Bill and Bettine Close—lived on a ten acre plot, much of it sage brush and tiny cacti growing in sandy soil. The Wyoming Mountain Range runs north to south, the Wind River Range runs east to west, both ranges far away from this treeless high desert that is Big Piney. I loved these wide open spaces. There was room to breathe.

Mattie and I had come to visit my parents and my two older sisters, Tina and Glenn. Tina was an artist who lived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Glenn was Glenn Close, the actress, who’d flown to Wyoming for a short break after filming a cameo on a popular television show called The West Wing. To others, Glenn was a Hollywood icon. Glamorous. Brilliant. To me, she was simply Glennie, my big sis.

As I waited for Mattie to return, The Creature began yelling so loudly in my head that I simply couldn’t take it anymore.

Everyone in the Close family knew I could be moody and unpredictable. In the past eight years, I had bought and sold twelve houses in and around Bozeman, Montana where Mattie and I lived. My siblings thought I was irresponsible but didn’t say it out loud. I’d never married Mattie’s father, nor had he asked me. I had burned through another love affair after him, gotten married, divorced and then had a common-law marriage with my fifth husband. I justified the husbands by saying I could count them on just one hand. But I’d also left dozens of other lovers in my wake. All of them had eventually run from me. Some afraid. Others angry. Still others with broken hearts.

It took years for my family to absorb the fact that whenever one of my mood swings kicked in I would buy a new car, move to a new house or get a new husband.

Sometimes Mattie enjoyed it when I was filled with manic energy. I remember waking her up one morning and driving to the Target store in Bozeman. “Take whatever you want,” I declared. “Let’s fill up the cart!” We raced up-and-down the aisles grabbing clothes from racks and stuffing dolls and other toys into a shopping cart. When I was manic, I was the fun and exciting mom! I remember watching Mattie as we filled the car that day with our purchases. Her eyes were sparkling and she was smiling and I felt really wonderful. Sometimes mania felt good, but recently it had grown so intense and so demanding that I couldn’t keep up with it. The racing thoughts. The intense feeling of having to do something, anything. And worst of all now, the voice.

The Creature’s voice.

Even when mania felt good, it was never worth the awful depressions that followed. Mattie never smiled during those dark periods. I would curl into a fetal position on our living room couch and be unable to even stand up say nothing of leaving the house. Even when we ran out of food. Literally. My bills would pile up unopened. The phone would go unanswered. I just wouldn’t care, couldn’t care—about anything.

Kill yourself! Kill yourself!

I was exhausted. It wasn’t the fatigue that came after a tough physical workout at the health club that I’d joined impulsively during a frantic self-improvement moment. Nor was it the restlessness that came after a night of tossing and turning because I couldn’t go to sleep. This was more of a debilitating feeling of abiding sadness. I had hit rock bottom. I had sunken into my dark place—where The Creature reigned and where I knew I’d either have to obey his single command or have him forever taunting me.

My life was a mess—and it showed. As a child, I’d had an angelic face, piercing eyes, a mischievous smile. In my late teens I’d been approached and asked to pose for a national men’s magazine. My husband at the time turned them down. But that was when my mental illness was just beginning to kick in, before I turned to booze and drugs and men to quiet my mind. Now at age 49, my face looked tired, my eyes seemed hollow and I couldn’t remember the last time that a carefree smile had crossed my lips. I looked like the haggard, suffering woman who I had become.

What had happened to me?

I didn’t have a job. I was a recovering alcoholic. My heart was breaking because my oldest son, Calen, whom I loved dearly, had been diagnosed with a severe mental illness, schizo-affective disorder that had led to him being hospitalized for two long years.

I felt responsible for his suffering. After all, it was my blood flowing through his veins and I suspected it was my own tainted genes that had sparked his disorder. A psychiatrist had diagnosed me with bipolar disorder but the medications he prescribed were ineffectual. That was what was behind my swinging moods. It was behind The Creature.

Kill yourself! Kill yourself!

My sister, Glenn, was still inside the guest house. It was only a few steps away   from me, but by the time I reached its door, I felt as if I had walked miles. I turned the knob, opened it and stepped in.

Glennie was standing inside. She looked at my face and asked “Are you alright?”

“I can’t stop thinking about killing myself,” I whispered, feeling deeply ashamed.

My big sister, six years my senior, wrapped her arms around me. I felt safe but it didn’t last. The Creature became angry. The Creature began yelling louder and louder.

Kill yourself! Kill yourself!

I told myself: Hang on. Hang on. Glennie will help you. She will find a way to silence The Creature. Together, we will find a way to make living worthwhile again.

You may pre-order Resilience from Amazon here. 

Published by Grant Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group  

Copyright: 2015 by Jessie Close

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.