Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I saw Bradley Cooper on Charlie Rose last night talking about mental illness, how it is stigmatized, how it should not be stigmatized, how legislation needs to be enacted, how early detection is critical, the same as if it was cancer - stage one is easier to treat than stage 3, and the need to raise awareness. He was there to talk about his new film, Silver Linings Playbook but at the same time, took the time to advocate and raise awareness. That is hope. He said people have come up to him after the film and thanked him because they were bi-polar but had never said it in public. Hope.

Bradley Cooper, sexiest man alive, according to People Magazine talks about mental illness here.



I went to an Art Matters talk in my building on Vincent Van Gogh. Art Matters is a company started by a terrific woman, Jane Blair, who is also a sculptor. Instead of slides, she uses large prints mounted on foam core which are then stuck on the walls with museum putty that doesn't leave a mark. At the end of the talk, the room looks like a gallery and you can get an up close and personal look at the paintings. I went to the talk because I looked forward to seeing the room filled up with his work.

During the talk, the woman speaking (not Jane) referred to Vincent Van Gogh as "....he was so crazy that he _____________, and then when he moved to Arles, he was so crazy that he ___________ and finally, "everyone in the town signed a petition to have him committed." (Except his friends the Postmaster and his wife whose portraits he painted and are hanging in the Museum of Fine Arts) Every time she said it, I winced. I did not know what to do so I was silent. However, Sid, a member of NAMI sitting in the front row finally spoke up and said, "could you please use another word instead of 'crazy' ? There was some back + forth until they settled on 'mental illness'. Later she said, "today he would have been diagnosed with 'a chemical imbalance' and then he would have been put on medication and he would lose his creativity." NOT !

Sid and I approached her after the meeting. My education and advocacy work regarding Mental Illness started that night. Sid has a son who has Schizophrenia who walked away some years ago and Sid has no idea where he is. So Sid has become very active in NAMI. I plan to go to the next meeting of the NAMI support group in Newton.

Mental illness is still so stigmatized even though it is an illness of the brain, the same as any other illness. It's popped up several times in the Sandler family.  Both Roby and Shirley talked about "Zaidy's sister Ruth who committed suicide." Shirley was diagnosed with Schizo-Affective disorder and then Paranoid Schizophrenia. I have PTSD. My ex-brother Barry is an alcoholic. Our lives were adversely impacted by her illness. She really was like two different people. There was the 'good' Shirley and the 'bad' Shirley. The 'bad' Shirley usually never appeared in public, only behind closed doors so nobody knew. We all acted our way through life, pretending that everything was fine. Her life ended so tragically - alone, isolated and in the words of Robin, the building manager, "extremely paranoid. She didn't trust anybody." I saw that in the hospital and everyone knew she did not answer the telephone or return calls. She unplugged it from the wall.

During today's hot news topic of Gun Control, one side is silent and that is, where is the visible presence of NAMI ? Who is advocating for funding for Mental Illness ? I do place this at the feet of insurance companies who have limited visits for various therapies, some of which do work. I read an Opinion in the NewYork times this week by Elyn Saks, Successful and Schizophrenic.

Monday, January 21, 2013


I watched a lot of documentaries including A Ripple of Hope about the speech Robert Kennedy made in Indianapolis the day MLK was shot in 1968. It was supposed to be a campaign rally speech. But he had to tell them, not all of them knew. Some of the crowd came prepared to riot. But after hearing his speech, they did not.

Extemporaneously, without reading from a prepared text, he said:
"My favorite poem, my — my favorite poet was Aeschylus,"
Robert Kennedy said, "and he once wrote":

"Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God."

Interesting....he turned to the Greek poets for comfort after the death of his brother, JFK.

You can watch the speech here. Hearing it in the distinct, Kennedy boston accent brings it to life along with the energy of the time. Very different than our own.

A Ripple of Hope is on YouTube, parts 1-6. Part four gives the context of the speech, the events of the day leading up to the speech at night. Even the police did not want to go into the neighborhood where he gave the speech in front of thousands of people on a flatbed truck at the corner of 17th + Broadway.

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Nothing stops my intrepid cousin Ellen from picking up and moving from Hollywood, Florida to Austin, Texas to be by her daughter Amber's family with their two children. How fantastic is that ! Now she is five minutes from Amber, Chuck and Aurora and baby Clark, arriving in Austin on December 21, 2012 right in time for Christmas. I do admire her 'get up + go'.

Check out Amber's blog for all the details of this latest journey and their first Christmas together, which as you can see from these photos is spectacular.



PSYCHIATRIC ILLNESS: A Brain Disorder as opposed to Neurological or Cognitive problem;

"a disorder of brain development, disorder of Cognition.......disturbance in 'working memory'..."
"... the most devasting of the psychiatric illnesses...."
"...thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors..."

This series is especially fascinating because in addition to the panel of western medicine scientists/experts/researchers, it has graphics, visualizations of the brain that are affected by schizophrenia which are contrasted to 'normal' brains. Also, the young man in the photo below has Schizophrenia and is able to articulate his experiences......

Charlie Rose Brain Series 2: Schizophrenia with Eric Kandel of Columbia University, Danny Hurley, Steven M. Paul of Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornelia Bargmann of Rockefeller University, Judith Rapoport of The National Institute of Mental Health, David A. Lewis of University of Pittsburgh

I am still looking for this one. It was broadcast on December 17, 2012

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Dec. 17, (Bloomberg) -- The Charlie Rose Brain Series 2 explores Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with Nobel laureate Dr. Eric Kandel of Columbia University; retired Lieutenant Colonel John O'Brien; psychiatrist Murray Stein of University of California at San Diego; psychologist Lisa Shin of Tufts University; neuroscientist Kerry Ressler of Emory University and JoAnn Difede, Director of the Program for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Studies at Cornell University. TONIGHT on Charlie Rose @ 7p & 10p ET.http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12512