Ten Years Later: I Still Miss My Best Friend


8-25-14  While my schedule keeps me from responding to all of the emails that I receive, I do read all of them. I especially enjoy reading personal stories. Here is one from a reader in Australia that I wish to share. While it is a sad note, it also describes the beauty of friendship. Having friends is important, especially when someone has a serious mental illness and often feels isolated and alone.  

Dear Pete,

I had a friend who took lithium for 25 years. It kept her sane and she was able to work fulltime, but it eventually destroyed her kidneys.
She was on dialysis for four years before she died in a private hospital.

When her kidneys began to fail, she had to be taken off lithium, and all sorts of other medication was tried to keep her thinking straight. Before she was on lithium, she was suicidal and jumped off the Auckland Harbor Bridge. She landed near a boat where men were fishing, and they dragged her aboard. The police picked her up and took her to hospital.

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Opponents Form PAC, Murphy Stumps For Votes, Fight About Mental Health Continues


Representative Tim Murphy’s Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act didn’t make it to the House floor for a vote this year, but the Pennsylvania Republican’s promise to reintroduce the bill in the coming legislative session continues to keep both its supporters and opponents busy.

Opponents have created a Stop The Murphy Bill Political Action Committee (PAC) to kill the proposed legislation. The PAC’s spokesperson, Jeanne Peschier, explained in a statement that the group will focus on mid-term elections and “will advocate for legislation that reduces forced psychiatric treatment and increases funding for alternatives to it. We will educate Congress and the public about the harms of forced psychiatric treatment.”  You can read more about the PAC and Jeanne Peschier at the Mental Health Civil Rights Protest blog.

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Florida College Renames “Maniac” Mascot Because Of Your Emails!

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Your voices have been heard!

Risdon Slate, a fellow mental health advocate, told me in April about an offensive mascot called The Maniac that a Christian college in Lakeland Florida had created.  I wrote a blog about how that mascot appeared to marginalize and stigmatize individuals with mental illnesses. Several of you agreed and voiced your concerns in emails to the college’s president.

This weekend, Risdon sent me this follow-up.

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Clubhouses offer HOPE: We need more of them!



8-22-14  (The Hilton Foundation, http://hiltonfoundation.org, announced last month that Fountain House/Clubhouse International was chosen to receive the 2014 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize.  At $1.5 million, the Prize is the world’s largest and most prestigious humanitarian award. It is presented to a non-profit judged to be doing extraordinary work to alleviate human suffering. This is the first time the Hilton Prize has been awarded to a mental health organization. In 2010, I wrote about the importance of clubhouses. Congratulations to Fountain House and to the many Clubhouses that it has helped launch.)

Clubhouses Change Lives

I am always touched when I hear recovery stories, especially those told by young people.  Jourdan Miller, a beautiful girl in her  early twenties, described how important the HOPE Clubhouse in Ft. Myers was to her recovery. As with so many of our young people, Jourdan had excelled as a teenager and had gone to college with big plans – only to become sick.  She was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder and not long after that she became so ill that she had to drop out. At one point, she was suicidal. When she called the local police during a manic episode, rather than getting help, she ended up getting arrested and  jailed — “to be taught a lesson.”  That experience – at the hands of unsympathetic and poorly trained sheriff’s deputies — resulted in her developing PTSD.

Jourdan  spoke eloquently at a recent luncheon about how she was in such anguish that she simply wanted to give up —  until her parents got her to visit the HOPE CLUBHOUSE.

“The HOPE CLUBHOUSE,” she said. “Saved my life.”

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Federal Prosecutors’ Thirst For Revenge: The Nexus Between Robin Williams and John Hinckley


(8-18-2014)  Robin Williams’ suicide touched a wide swath and judging from the number of emails that I received, those of us who deal with mental illnesses  felt especially compelled to comment. But while Williams’ death saddened me, it was a less noticed news item last week that alarmed me.

Federal prosecutors announced they were considering filing new charges against would-be presidential assassin John Hinckley Jr. after a Virginia medical examiner ruled that former White House press Secretary James Brady’s recent death was a homicide.

Hinckley shot Brady while trying to kill President Ronald Reagan in 1981 outside a Washington D.C. hotel. However, Brady didn’t die until earlier this month while living in a Virginia retirement home. He was 73 years old.

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Why You Should Speak Out: Helping Others By Telling Our Stories


8-15-2014               From My Files Friday : Your words matter!

 A mother wrote to me several years ago about her adult son, who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but had refused to see a psychiatrist or accept her help. He became more and more distraught and psychotic but there was little she could do because he was not a danger to himself or anyone else and he was convinced that there was nothing wrong with him.
I remember writing her an encouraging note and  wondering later what had happened to her and her son.  More than a year later, sent me this note and gave me permission to share it with you.
 I just want to tell you how, I believe, that you helped to get my son into treatment that he has steadfastly resisted for these many years. I think I told you of the difficult time I have had to get him to cooperate and to take his medicine correctly for his bi-polar. After he became diabetic too, he was just as much in denial and un-cooperative. I was paying for his apartment and knew he was not taking care of himself. However, he would refuse all of my offers to help him wash his clothes, clean his apartment or any other assistance. His siblings were, also, turned down. He withdrew from all of us.

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