Happy Mother’s Day!
Hope you have a good weekend everybody!
Happy Mother’s Day!
Hope you have a good weekend everybody!
Presidential Candidate (NAME)
Email or address
Dear 2020 Presidential Candidate (NAME):
I hear discussions about mental health awareness. I don’t hear discussions about serious mental illness (SMI). Many of us, in the SMI community, fear that most focus is given to mental health conditions where people are resilient, can recover, can go to work, and live independently. I appreciate the goal to give hope to these individuals. The story, however, is much broader.
With SMI (schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorder, bipolar disorder, clinical depression, OCD) some people do not recover, and cannot work or live independently. Some are so sick they don’t realize they’re sick (anosognosia), don’t respond to treatment (if they get it), and end up incarcerated, homeless, missing, suicidal or dead. The SMI population represents 4-5% (10 million) of the mentally ill in the United States. And ten times as many people with SMI are incarcerated as are hospitalized. For whatever reasons, these individuals don’t get the attention they deserve and consistently fall to the bottom of the proverbial heap.
My son, Patrick, was one of these individuals.
If it “takes a village to raise a child,” it takes a country to help a “child” with SMI — parity in mental health care, IMD (Institutes of Mental Disease) Exclusion repeal (beds) , HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) reform, housing, hospitalization instead of incarceration, brain disease research, supported education, and on and on.
So far, our country is not stepping up. A serious mental illness system does not exist.
The presidential candidate I’ll vote for will have the courage and insight to raise SMI issues and to create a plan/policy to deal with them on a national scale. What is your plan/policy for SMI? I want to read about it on your website.
Thank you for your prioritization of SMI issues.
A Safe Place to Talk About Mental Illness in Our Families
Author - Sooner Than Tomorrow — A Mother’s Diary About Mental Illness, Family, and Everyday Life
(Available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble)
ADDRESSES: See yesterday’s post for address/email information for 2020 presidential candidates.
I’m researching 2020 presidential contact information. My intent is to write/email the candidates to ask, “What is your national plan or policy regarding the care and treatment of individuals who live with serious mental illnesses (SMI) such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorder, clinical depression, OCD, etc.?”
I collected the following information from campaign websites. Not all offer contact information that includes a place to comment. Some offer info@theirnames. It’s not clear if these email addresses go to staff or if they actually reach the nominee. John Delaney, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, and Andrew Yang offer PO Box addresses.
If you have contact information for any of these candidates that I didn’t include, please send that information to me and I’ll update this list.
At the moment, SMI has not been mentioned in presidential town halls. Questions are asked about drug/alcohol programs but not about care/treatment for the seriously mentally ill. We have to introduce this topic into the presidential town halls, debates, and the 2020 campaigns. If SMI is not included in election discourse, what chance is there that it will be a priority in national programs going forward?
Tomorrow, I’ll post a sample letter that I’ll be sending to all the people on this list. Feel free to copy and use or to help draft your own message. Let’s flood 2020 presidential candidates with letters about what is important to us — national attention to SMI issues.
Bill de Blasio
PO Box 70835
Bethesda, MD 20813
Amy Klobuchar (Has a plan for drug/alcohol addiction and mental health. SMI?
Amy for America
PO Box 18360
Minneapolis, MN 55418
PO Box 3628
El Paso, Texas
PO Box 391
Burlington, Vt. 05402
Friends of Andrew Yang
PO Box 214
New York, NY 10018
Our story — mine and Pat’s — is now live and available to order on Amazon. An exciting day full of mixed emotions.
NOTE: As of late this afternoon, 4/11/19, Sooner Than Tomorrow is up on Amazon and available for ordering. I’m in tears. My heart and soul are in this book. Thank you, so much, for reading it.
In a few days, Sooner Than Tomorrow will be available in paperback on Amazon. Dedicated to mothers. Perfect for Mother’s Day! Please leave a comment on Amazon on my book page. I’m counting on word of mouth to attract new readers. Thanks so much!
FROM THE BACK COVER:
I had no idea, as I was writing my diary (June 15, 2013 — June 15, 2014), that I was capturing the last year of my son’s life. Pat died, unexpectedly, on July 23, 2014, on a hospital psych ward. Suddenly, my diary morphed into a more poignant record than I’d anticipated and, after he died, I discovered Pat had been making regular posts on Facebook. I decided to add his comments to my own.
One day, you know it will be your turn. Something alters your projection. There’s a major shift and then events will be referenced as “before” or “after.” Your life as it was versus the way it is now. In Sooner Than Tomorrow, I learn — right along with the reader — what will happen next. We’re all on a journey. Thank you for going on this journey with me.
Dede Ranahan weaves everyday events into her poignant account of her son’s descent into psychosis. She takes readers, with her and her family, on a harrowing journey — there is no guidebook — that too many of us are forced to take. Written in diary form, with entries by both mother and son, Sooner Than Tomorrow quietly exposes our nation’s shameful failure to help those with serious mental illnesses. It chronicles a mother’s unending love for a child and a son’s struggles to be well. An important book. A loving tribute. A powerful story that tugs at the heart and leaves readers asking, “Why can’t we do better?”
author of CRAZY: A Father’s Search
Through America’s Mental Health Madness
This book about psychiatric brain disease is poignant and painful, but, ultimately, a necessary read. In its well-constructed pages, you’ll find a mother’s diary of her wonderful son and his terrible illness. Every clinician needs a copy of this, every mental health worker, every doctor, and, certainly, every family. Sooner Than Tomorrow is as real as storytelling gets. There are no stories more honest than those of our children who live with mental illnesses. This book tells one such story beautifully.
mother of Zac, Board Member, SARDAA
(Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America)
Among the uncountable tragedies of the mental illness sub-nation, is its near-invisibility to its host society. So-called normal people live alongside neighbors—even friends—whose quiet pain, mourning, terror, and desperation would affront the nation’s conscience if it were better known. Dede Ranahan is among the heroic witnesses who are breaking that silence. Her memoir of the loss of her son — passionate, eloquent, revelatory, and unspeakably brave — brilliantly takes its place among the beacons of light and truth telling that point the way to the reclamation of our most helpless brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author of
No One CaresAbout Crazy People:
The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America
My book, Sooner Than Tomorrow — A Mother’s Diary About Mental Illness, Family, and Everyday Life, has been six years in the making. In a few days, it will become available on Amazon. The journey continues.
(Page 445 in Sooner Than Tomorrow)
First, thank you to my son, Patrick. Thank you for your poetry, your Facebook posts, and your life. You’re the most courageous person I’ve ever known.
Thank you to my daughters, Megan Mace, Marisa Farnsworth, and Kerry Joiner, for reading Sooner Than Tomorrow and giving me permission to put it out there, sharing our family with the world. Your endorsements mean everything to me.
Thank you to everyone I mentioned in the telling of my story. We’re all in this thing we call “life” together.
Thank you to early readers: Ann Hedrick, Pat West Guinn, Kathy Hayes, Mary Lyn Rusmore-Villaume, Rosemary Sarka, and Irene Underwood. You gave me the cojones to believe in myself.
Thank you to the cheerleaders, those of you read my book excerpts week after week at soonerthantomorrow.com and sent me emails, text messages, cards, and letters: Joan Andersen, Tama
Bell, Chris Biswell, Judy Bracken, Madeleine Cunningham, Bev Chinello, Deborah Fabos, Anne Schmidt Francisco, Heidi Franke, Sheila Ganz, Jeanne Gore, Joyce Herrerias, Swannie Hoehn, Rose King, Nancy Krause, Joan Logue, Grace McAndrews, Jan McKim, Mary Murphy, Fran Neves, Liz Noel, Teresa Pasquini, Den Proudly, Karen Riches, Mary Sheldon, Stace Shurson, Sandy Turner, Kimberlee West, Annette Williamson, and to so many more of you who left comments, likes, and loves on Facebook. You kept me going, especially on the days when I thought, what am I doing?
Thank you to Sharon Lefkov, Kerry Joiner, and Michele Joiner for proofing my pages for spellings and typos. Thank you to my little brother, Jim Moon, for bringing my old photos back to life. Acknowledgments also to Sue Clark, my first editor, who read every page out loud with me and assured me, “Yes, this is interesting.” And to the Lincoln Library writer’s class who listened, in the beginning, when Pat was still with us.
Special hugs to Pat’s Facebook friends.
Thank you to Michele DeFilippo and Ronda Rawlins at 1106 Design for your professionalism and guidance.
And finally, thank you to all of you—those I know and don’t know—who are reading Sooner Than Tomorrow. Readers are the whole point of writing. The why in the what if.
P.S. Love to my heroes—the millions of mothers of the seriously mentally ill who fight for their children every single day.
To go directly to Pete Earley’s blog to read his full post and to see all photos. Click here.
Posted: 26 Mar 2019 05:19 AM PDT
“Pat in 1988 before our world came undone.” Author Dede Ranahan’s first book
(3-26-19) I’ll be speaking April 2nd at the National Alliance on Mental Illness Dane County 2019 Awards Banquet and Gala in Madison, Wisconsin. Please support NAMI by attending if you live in the Madison area.
The 2019 book season is upon us. Here’s a few that have caught my eye. If you have one that you’d like to recommend, please do so on my Facebook page.
Long considered the most comprehensive and authoritative book written about schizophrenia, an updated Surviving Schizophrenia is being released today. It was groundbreaking when it was first published in the early 1980s. Here’s how my former colleague at the Washington Post, Peter Carlson, described the book’s impact in a 2001 article that documents how this important work helped NAMI become a national organization. If you have schizophrenia, know someone who does, or want to educate yourself about this serious mental illness, this is a must read.
When Laurie Flynn walked into the office of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill for her first day as executive director in 1984, she found a pile of mailbags, each of them stuffed with letters. It was all because of E. Fuller Torrey.
Torrey had just published “Surviving Schizophrenia,” a guide for patients and their families. When he appeared on Phil Donahue’s TV show to promote it, he urged people seeking help to contact the alliance, which was then a fledgling organization with fewer than 50,000 members, most of them the parents of mental patients. The result was this avalanche of mail.
“Nobody had ever said the word schizophrenia on popular television, and people came out of the woodwork seeking help,” Flynn recalls. “For many years, mothers were told they were the cause of the problem, and here comes Fuller Torrey saying, ‘Wait a minute, this isn’t the family’s fault. These are brain diseases.’ Here was a psychiatrist saying, ‘I know what you’re going through because my sister has the problem.’ It’s hard to overemphasize what a hero he was back in the early days.”
Torrey donated the royalties of “Surviving Schizophrenia” to the alliance and he hit the hustings to organize, helping to build the group into a powerful lobbying organization with more than 220,000 members.
“Weekend after weekend,” Flynn says, “he went out to states where members were organizing chapters and he rallied the troops. Nobody did it better.”
Not everyone lands a huge publisher, which is why I want to mention several books about mental illness that don’t have a large promotional budget and often are not by professional writers. They’re simply poignant tales written from the heart.
It’s difficult to turn a diary into a book. A writer’s tools, such as pacing, foreshadowing and character development, don’t generally fit in a non-fiction diary form. It’s an especially daunting task for a first time author. Sooner Than Tomorrow: A Mother’s Diary About Mental Illness, Family and Everyday Life, by Dede Ranahan pulls off that delicate dance. Interwoven with her diary entries are Facebook posts written by her son, Patrick. When this NAMI advocate first started writing her diary on June 15, 2013, she did not know that she would be chronicling Patrick’s last year. He died on July 23, 2014 in a psych ward where she thought he would be safe.
Because Ranahan wanted to tell her story in context, she includes other events in her diary beside her son’s mental illness. That was a bold move. Some may find that distracting at first, but Ranahan wanted to blend her son’s struggles with the everyday that all of us live. It ultimately gives readers a much fuller picture. You can read more on her blog/website: Sooner Than Tomorrow.
Here’s an excerpt:
How do you react when your 25-year-old son, during what is later seen as his first acute bipolar episode, kidnaps his teenage sister, drives her to a hospital, and convinces the emergency room staff to admit her because “she’s sick and my parents aren’t taking care of her”?
How do you compute when you arrive at the hospital to rescue your daughter—who has a cold—and you find her hysterical and sitting in a hospital bed? You ask your son, who is staring straight ahead with empty eyes, “Why did you bring your sister here?”
With logic that reflects his internal confusion, he answers,
“Because I knew I needed help…
How do you advocate when the world sees a bum, and you see the little boy you carried in your womb, nursed at your breast, laughed and played with, and knew in your heart was the world’s greatest child? And you know somewhere, trapped inside his brain, the world’s greatest child is lost and trying to be found.
–Sooner than Tomorrow by Dede Ranahan.
Another blogger turned first time author is Janet Coburn who uses her blog, Bipolar Me, to shine a spotlight on what it is like to have bipolar two disorder. Full disclosure, I’ve not yet read her book because I’m on a deadline writing a new novel, but I have read her blog and put her book on my summer reading list. I am always curious about how individuals with mental illnesses successfully manage their lives. Check out her blog to discover if her writing appeals to you.
After my last (and, I hope, last) major bipolar breakdown, my therapist pointed out that I had a unique opportunity: I could reclaim those parts of my life that had fallen away, or I could leave them behind.
I could choose. That idea was very powerful.
The Light In His Soul came out last summer and is still getting tremendous reviews. The story behind the book was first told in an award winning documentary film entitledA Sister’s Call. It is an incredibly powerful film.
In reviewing the book, Kirkus Reviews noted: “The power of this memoir lies in the way it demystifies mental health issues by examining them from a deeply personal perspective. Individuals and families facing similar experiences will certainly find solace from it… A moving, passionate, personal narrative of trauma and healing.”
Here is Amazon’s description:
Call Richmond, Jr. went missing. Twenty years later he showed up on a family member’s doorstep. He was homeless, broken, and suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. For the next fourteen years, his sister Rebecca took on the struggle to restore him as they faced the dark traumas and painful memories of their past. The Light in His Soul: Lessons from My Brother’s Schizophrenia is her intimate memoir of helping Call as she learns that his extraordinary gifts are helping heal her and her family. Both Call and Rebecca bring light to the dark shadows of their past.
Sadly, Call Richmond Jr., has passed but his story is forever memorialized.
Author Lynn Nanos is a mobile emergency psychiatric clinician in Massachusetts who has written for this blog. See: A Street Social Worker Tells What It’s Really Like.She’s also an active member of the National Shattering Silence Coalition that advocates for the seriously mentally ill population. Her book uses her personal experiences to tell a much broader story – how our underfunded and broken system is failing those with serious mental illness. Here’s how she explained why she feels so passionately about helping those too often forgotten.
I know there are success stories out there. But as an inpatient social worker, I was alarmed at the extremely high rate of readmission to our units. This is what motivated me to begin writing about what I see daily.
We, or at least, I can’t close my eyes at night knowing that we could, no, we must do better.
I think of a patient on my caseload who was paranoid delusional and was refusing to accept treatment because he did not believe that he was mentally ill. He refused to sign a release of confidentiality for me to communicate with his mother, even though they resided together. She knew he was there, so I just supportively listened to her concerns. I passed these on to the rest of the team, including his psychiatrist.
Shortly after his discharge, he used a knife to stab his mother to death.
When something such as this happens, you have choices. You can pretend these events don’t happen or turn away from them. Or you can roll up your sleeves and begin advocating to improve the lives of the seriously mentally ill population who are the sickest.
I’m in my tenth year as a mobile psychiatric emergency clinician. I’ve rolled up my sleeves.
In addition, here are four extremely important books that you should read. I give them my highest personal rating. Each has impacted my thinking. Please check them out.
The post Sharing Your Stories: Books That Chronicle Mental Illnesses And Those Impacted By Them appeared first on Pete Earley.
COMING SOON! WILL BE ON AMAZON IN PAPERBACK AND EBOOK FORMATS IN TIME FOR MOTHER’S DAY.
I’LL UPDATE HERE.
I’m trying to choose the color for the cover of my book. Which color draws you in — blue, white, or gray? Thanks so much for your help. I have no objectivity about this and appreciate your feedback.
Why the carnation? The carnation is the official flower for Mother’s Day. Pat used to give me and his sisters white carnations on Mother’s Day. White carnations represent pure love. Pink carnations represent a mother’s forever love: “I will never forget you.” My book is dedicated to Pat and his sisters, and to the mothers (millions of them) who fight, every single day, for their children who live with serious mental illness.
P.S. If you receive this post twice in your email, it’s because you’re subscribed to my stories blog and to my diary blog. I try to not duplicate posts often. Thanks for subscribing to both blogs.
One of my favorite memories from 2018 — my hummingbirds, Mama and Peek. (RIP Poke)
In the photo, they look like they’re talking. I imagine their conversation in my poem…
What are the clouds?
What is the sky?
Where are the flowers?
How do I fly?
The clouds are magic
The sky is blue air
The flowers are growing
You can hum everywhere.
I like my nest.
How did you make it?
I see spider silk in it,
How did you take it?
The nest is your home
I made it with love
The spiders were smiling
They could see it above,
Tell me more of the things I need to know.
How to stay safe and how to let go?
What will I do when you fly away?
I’ll grow up soon but I wish you would stay.
I’ll teach you everything about being a bird,
I won’t leave till you’re ready, I give you my word.
We’re tiny and swift and clever and smart,
I love you, sweet baby, with all of my heart.
Hope you have a good 2019 everybody!
I'm back from my blog break and posting more stories on Blog 1 (Your Stories) beginning tomorrow. My blog of Sooner Than Tomorrow - A Mother's Diary: A Memoir About Mental Illness, Family, & Everyday Life. I'm leaving the blog (Blog 2) open for new readers while I get my book published.
While attending a writer's conference, one speaker gave me this good news. She said (to the audience): "The publishing world is changing."
"If you're an unknown writer over 70, don't try to find a publisher."
"If you're an unknown writer of a memoir, don't try to find a publisher."
"If you're writing in diary format, don't try to find a publisher."
"If you're writing about mental illness, don't try to find a publisher."
"If you're writing about someone who died less than ten years ago, don't try to find a publisher."
Hmm? My writing checks all her boxes. What should I do? Give up? Go away? Write something else that means nothing to me? These are fighting words.
I've lots to consider. If I self-publish, among other things, I have to buy an ISBN number, apply for a LCCN number from the US Library of Congress, hire a professional cover designer, hire a professional graphic designer to format the interior pages of my print book and/or to convert it to an eBook, possibly purchase an editorial book review, and register my book with the US Copyright Office.
Then there's marketing. Posting my book on Amazon doesn't cut it. People have to know it's there. They have to be directed to it.
So I'm asking myself, what do I want to accomplish? I know I want my diary in finished book format per my original intent which was to leave a book for my descendants. Should I defy all odds and look for an agent/ publisher? Should I publish my book myself? If you've read A Mother's Diary on my blog and you have any thoughts on this, please let me know. Your feedback will help me sort out what I should do going forward. email@example.com
If you haven't read Sooner Than Tomorrow, it's still available on Blog 2. To read it from the beginning, read the Introduction in the navigation bar above, then go to "Scenes from the Trenches" June 14, 2017, in the Archives on the right hand side of the blog page. To continue reading, scroll up in the archives from June 14, 2017.
I didn't know, as I was writing, that I was capturing the last year of my son's life. In my memoir, his voice comes through loud and clear. However this goes, I'm grateful. In these pages, Pat will always be alive.
All my best, Dede
P.S. If you aren't subscribed to Blog I, it's continuing. Hope you'll sign on. If for nothing else, for Happy Pics :-)