Well, Okay. So it’s actually a gorgeous picture of Catherine Zeta-Jones. Still, it brings one more mental illness into the light, with a matter-of-fact movie star who says it shouldn’t be a big deal. I wrote my first-ever letter to the editor after reading this week’s issue, which also contained a similar admission from Disney darling Demi Lovato.
In case it doesn’t make it to print (hey, I tried), this is what I wrote:
The best kind of applause to both Catherine Zeta Jones and to Demi Lovato for their courage in refusing to be ashamed about an illness that just happens to affect a body organ known as the brain. As Zeta-Jones so beautifully put it, “There is no need to suffer silently and there is no shame in seeking help.” And Ms. Lovato has, I hope, inspired others of her generation to be open and accepting of their diagnoses and the treatment that helps. As the mother of a wonderful kid who developed schizophrenia in his late teens (a common timetable for those with gradual-onset schizophrenia), I look forward to the day when my son – who, by the way, is in recovery with the help of treatment, patience, and love – and others with schizophrenia can speak as openly about their illness as well. While bipolar disorder is essentially a mood disorder and schizophrenia’s cluster of symptoms is more accurately described as a thought disorder, there are many areas in common. The greatest- and most shameful – of these is the presence of stigma. One day I hope my son – and the many others who have a diagnosed mental illness – will receive the same amount of respect, understanding, acceptance and research dollars as those who have illnesses that affect other organs of the body. Once again: brava, ladies!
author: Ben Behind His Voices: One Family’s Journey from the Chaos of Schizophrenia to Hope
(Rowman & Littlefield, summer 2011)
Family-to-Family teacher and trainer for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)