From My Mail Bag: Readers Tell Their Stories in Books, Magazines, and Newspapers



(7-18-16) Four items from my mailbox.  A loyal reader of my blog, Rosemary Ross, describes her life-long struggles with mental illness in a book called Rescued from the Pit: Healing from Schizophrenia.  Another reader tells me about her son’s efforts to call attention to those with mental illness in Chicago’s Cook County jail. Jennifer Marshall writes that This Is My Brave is featured this month in Oprah Magazine and I plug a new non-fiction book called Show Me All Your Scars, which is a collection of 20 first person accounts written by individuals with mental illnesses.

Dear Pete. My name is Rosemary Ross. I have a story to tell about my mental illness. My first seven years were full of happiness, fortunately. The problem, however, was that my father had deserted my mother and me before I was born, and we lived with his father, my grandoo. I hated my father for not wanting me to be born, as my mother had told me.

When I was eight, Mother and I left Grandoo and moved across the country. There she met a man, and they married. I liked him at first, but his real personality came out when he attempted to sexually molest me.

I rejected that. His former favor of me changed to an insane hatred. He directed that hatred toward me for the next thirteen years, the entire time he and Mother were married. He called me very nasty names, constantly told me I was no good, crazy, and that I should go jump off a cliff and kill myself because then the world would be better off. He constantly told me lots of other terrible words. After years of all this, I ended up believing I was no good.

     At age sixteen, I became a Christian, receiving God’s forgiveness for my sins. By that time I had sinned some and I knew it. After high school, I attended Bible college for one year. Afterwards, I started having emotional difficulties.  When I was nineteen, I married. My husband and I stayed together for only two months, later divorcing. I was pregnant. Failing at marriage only increased my feelings of worthlessness.

     After my son Ken was born, my mother and stepfather divorced. Mom, Ken, and I moved across the country, far away from my stepfather. There I met my own father. He was nice, but he also made a pass at me. I rejected his advance, and we were able to be friends for the rest of his life. At this point, I was slipping into insanity. I was delusional. I couldn’t think. I experienced only my new, delusional world. Four years of insanity followed. When medicine helped me come back to reality in the beginning, I was so depressed with the knowledge that I had been insane that I became suicidal. I attempted suicide three times during those years. I was either delusional or suicidal. 

     Healing came gradually.

   In 1963, during my second hospital stay, I received psychoanalytic psychotherapy from a very caring psychiatric resident, who treated me for the full three years of his residency. That was a wonderful and healing experience in many ways. His care was free for me because President Kennedy had increased funding for mental health services. I was then taking Trilafon. My family was very good to me, especially my mother.

     Finally, in 1965, I was certified by a judge to a state hospital for a period of six months. Then, if I was well, I would be released. If not, I would be put in the permanent ward. This was because I had become very delusional again, having stopped taking the medicine. While awaiting confinement, I’d prayed that a medicine would be invented that would heal me. That year tricyclic antidepressants were developed. When I was given one, Aventyl ( Pamelor), and Trilafon and Stelazine, my healing happened!

     Since then I have never been depressed! It has been fifty-one years! I still take Trilafon and Stelazine, but no longer need the antidepressant. There are no more delusions.

     The Bible speaks of our renewing our minds. I believe my mind has been and is still being renewed! I have been successful since recovering in 1965. I earned two bachelors degrees and also a masters degree with honors in mental health counseling, the last one at age 63. I’ve held several professional jobs and worked for the State of Florida for eighteen years. I also took care of Ken, who was ill most of his life, as well as my mother who died of dementia.

     God bless everyone! And, I hope all psychiatric consumers find healing!

From Chicago:

Hello Pete: I wanted to  let you know about the first project my son’s new philanthropy completed recently raising money for a van to be used by Sheriff Tom Dart’s team for getting mentally ill to court dates–for one. An article in the Chicago Tribune is running today about my son, daughter and the new foundation. If you feel it is worthy–would love for you to share with your readers. Thanks, Carla Clark

After sister with mental illness jailed, brother teams with others to help detainees

She was paranoid, hearing voices and fighting with other detainees in Cook County Jail, where she would spend 18 months behind bars. She had been arrested after a scuffle with a security guard who caught her trying to shoplift at a Whole Foods store in Chicago.

The Peoria native, who has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, turned to drugs during her teen years and into her 20s to cope with her confusion, anger, delusions and despair.

Dear Pete: We made it into Oprah Magazine’s August Issue. The story about This is My Brave begins on page 103 and the issue is already on newsstands. We are grateful to Kathy Flaherty for writing a Letter to the Editor in September of 2015 which led to this story. Also, we now have our May shows available on YouTube. Please spread the word! 

New Non-fiction Book Shares Personal Stories about Mental Illness

From the cover:
Show Me All Your Scars shreds the curtain of stigma and indifference that causes us to see the ‘mentally ill’ as ‘them’ and ‘those people.’ In these deeply personal essays, we see ‘us’ and understand there should be no shame in having a mental illness, only shame in our refusal to offer a hand and listen to those whose scars are badges of courage, resilience and recovery.” — Pete Earley
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.