Jessie and Glenn Continue Talking About Mental Illness



The release of RESILIENCE, the memoir that I helped Jessie Close write, gave Glenn and Jessie Close the opportunity to appear together on the Dr. Oz show to discuss mental illness. Here is a a transcript of that show as reported and posted on RECAPO.

I’m thrilled that Jessie is using the release of the book to show the public a different face in the media than the one they usually see associated with mental illness.

Dr Oz: Glenn Close & Her Sister Jessie      FROM RECAPO

As Dr Oz so kindly put, Glenn Close is one of the finest actresses of her generation. But it’s what happened off screen that truly inspired Dr Oz and those that know more about Glenn Close than the characters she played. She was born into a privileged family with a lineage of wealth. Glenn’s mother and surgeon father frequently moved Glenn and her three siblings to serve as missionaries in a cult-like religious movement. It was Glenn’s sister Jessie who seemed to have the hardest time with her family’s unconventional lifestyle.

Jessie was estranged from her parents and struggled with decades of addiction, promiscuity, divorce, and destructive behavior that eventually turned into suicide attempts. At the age of 50, Jessie began intensive therapy for bipolar disorder and Glenn and Jessie were ready to share their story with Dr Oz.

Dr Oz: Glenn Close On Mental Illness + Jessie Close "Resilience"

Dr Oz: Glenn Close On Mental Illness

Dr Oz welcomed Glenn to his show who explained that in generations of her family, they never talked about the mental disorder. She said what’s hard to come to terms with is the fact that they thought Jessie was just the wild child and was irresponsible.

A few years ago, Jessie approached her sister telling her that she was going to take her own life. Glenn said it was an “emotional explosion” for her. She said before that, she would just come in and out of her sister’s life and didn’t know she had problems with alcohol or drugs, but at that point she knew she had to help her.

Glenn said her family had misunderstanding and some stigma themselves, and were even scared when they first found out what was going on with Jessie, but said it was “the beginning of an amazing journey” for all of them.

Jessie has since recovered with the help of her family and professionals. Glenn said she wouldn’t be where she was today if it wasn’t for Jessie and she’s most proud that Jessie had the courage to talk about it. She said she’s also proud that her sister has owned her illness, stays connected, talks to her doctor, and takes her medication. Glenn said Jessie has become a productive, amazing human being. “She is not her illness. She is my beautiful, beautiful courageous sister,” Glenn said.

Dr Oz: Jessie Close ‘Resilience’ Book

Dr Oz then welcomed Jessie to come out and join them on the show. Jessie actually wrote a book calledResilience about her journey with her sister. Dr Oz applauded her for being “brutally honest.” Dr Oz said a lot of people don’t truly know what bipolar means and Jessie said you experience mania, which makes you very high and you don’t need sleep. But then you crash into a depression, which is the complete opposite where you’re in the fetal position a lot. Jessie said she drank through both her highs and lows, but she continues to take her medication in order to never experience depression like that again.

Dr Oz said 50% of people with bipolar depression probably attempt suicide. Jessie said she had been sober for four years but she was still suicidal and had developed a voice in her head that she called “the creature” that kept saying “kill yourself.” She thought she would have to obey the voice, but her children mean everything to her and she knew she couldn’t do that to them, so she asked her sister for help.

Dr Oz: Glenn Close & Mental Illness In ‘Fatal Attraction’

Dr Oz wondered why Jessie didn’t talk about her illness when she was younger and Jessie explained that people didn’t know about bipolar disorder then. She said then it was called manic depression and she never heard about it. Dr Oz said we hear about it now, but we still don’t really know what it is. Dr Oz said a lot of people who have mental disorders don’t want to take medication because they think it will rob them of the “euphoria” of life that comes during the high points. Jessie is living proof that it works.

Dr Oz then brought up Glenn Close’s character in Fatal Attraction who, without a doubt, had some sort of mental illness. Glenn said she was asked for three years to talk to the American Psychiatric Association because of that character, but said even in doing her research for the character, it never came up that she might have a mental disorder.

Glenn said to have someone with a mental illness as the antagonist is very easy. She ignorantly was a “textbook version” of a person with a mental disorder that she knew nothing about. She said it was only after that that doctors in the field told her they use the character to illustrate a certain mental disorder. She doesn’t regret it, however, because it brought up a lot of other issues. She said to make it a hit movie, they made her character into a psychopath, which was, in a way, a betrayal of who that character was.

Dr Oz: Ending The Stigma About Mental Illness

Glenn and Jessie were on the show because they want to end the stigma about mental illness because it doesn’t just stop with one generation. Jessie’s son actually has schizophrenia. He was sent to the hospital when he was 19 years old and stayed there for two years in a halfway house type of situation. But he’s now married and is a thriving artist.

Glenn said she wanted a world where our government realizes the enormity of the problem, knowing that one in four suffer in some way. She wants a world where each community has a place where people with mental illness can go. Dr Oz shared that approximately 60 million people have a mental illness of some form, so we have to stop thinking of it as something to be ashamed of.

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.