Powerful Readings From RESILIENCE, Angry Response To Fox Radio Host’s “Stupid” Statement

Moments before the show

Moments before the show

For those of you who missed it, Jessie Close, Glenn Close and I were on the Diane Rehm Show this morning (2-5-2015) talking about mental illness and our new book, RESILIENCE: Two Sisters and a Story of Mental Illness.  Here is a link to the program.

Highlights for me were hearing Glenn read one of the vignettes that she wrote for our book and also listening to Jessie read the first two pages of the book’s Prologue where she describes a screaming voice inside her head urging her to end her life. Their readings truly captured the emotion and power of their written words.

A listener asked for our reaction to Fox News Radio Host Tom Sullivan’s recent claim  that Bipolar Disorder is “made up” and a “fad.” I had no interest in giving Sullivan additional attention but each week I receive emails about hurtful comments, television commercials and team mascots that marginalize individuals dealing with mental issues so I felt compelled to respond.

I reacted by calling Sullivan’s comments “stupid,” and later referred to him as an “idiot” for belittling people who are struggling with bipolar disorder. I generally don’t engage in personal attacks, especially on a nationally broadcast NPR show. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and it would be better to educate Mr. Sullivan than to belittle him.

But his statement reminded me of individuals who deny the holocaust and it is difficult not to respond emotionally when you see how a mental illness, yes Mr. Sullivan, bipolar disorder, impacts the life of someone you love.

According to the National Mental Health Association, individuals with bipolar disorder are at great risk for suicide if they are not getting treatment. Thirty to seventy percent of persons who take their own lives have experienced a form of depression.  According to Mental Illness Policy Org. 10-13 % of individuals with schizophrenia and 15% of persons diagnosed with bipolar disorder kill themselves.

We know that one reason why persons with mental illnesses do not seek help is because they don’t want to be labeled “mentally ill.” Comments that imply individuals are faking a mental illness because it is a fad or they simply want to get a disability check help create barriers to treatment.

Glenn and Jessie are working to break down barriers through BringChange2Mind.

Treatment can help people get better. That’s the message we should be sending!

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.