Walk in Tasmania.
Hope you have a good weekend everybody!
Walk in Tasmania.
Hope you have a good weekend everybody!
Hi Mental Health for US
Just discovered you and your platform asking 2020 political candidates to talk about mental health in their campaigns. I see no specific mention of serious mental illnesses (SMI) such as schizophrenia, schizo-affective disorder, bipolar disorder, etc. Some people are not able to recover from SMI and languish in prison, in solitary, in not-so-good care homes or in their parents’ back bedroom for years and years.
I belong to a dozen Facebook groups of families of the SMI. Their stories are horrific and from across the nation. They’re not able to find help anywhere.
I want to support your efforts. I’ve been sending letters to candidates and calling on Facebook and on my blog for 2020 candidates to step up, speak about, and put forth national plans for SMI that do the following: Reform HIPAA, repeal the IMD exclusion, do brain research into these insidious brain diseases, provide for long-term care and short-term outpatient services, improve access, provide housing, supported education, and family supports. Not simply mental health. Not simply drug and alcohol addiction. Serious mental illness.
Would Mental Health for US be willing to expand its platform to include SMI - specifically spelling it out, not simply lumping it into mental health?
I hope your answer is yes.
You can read stories about SMI individuals and families — across the US - that I’ve been posting for 31/2 years on my website and blog. You can also read my own story in my book about my and my son’s struggles for over 25 years to get help for his SMI. He died in 2014 on a hospital psych ward. He was transferred, without my knowledge, out of county (lack of beds), his records weren’t forwarded with him, and I couldn’t get doctors to talk to me (HIPAA) even though I was on my son’s Advance Care Directive.
I unwittingly captured the last year of Pat's life in my book which, among other things, includes his story and many stories of individuals and families being failed by the system.
I will sign on and volunteer to help you once I’m satisfied that this undertaking includes SMI and specifically mentions it in your platform.
Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you.
A Safe Place to Talk About Mental Illness in Our Families
Sooner Than Tomorrow — A Mother’s Diary About Mental Illness, Family, and Everyday Life
By Dede Ranahan with Patrick Ranahan
https://www.mentalhealthforus.net Please read this platform and send a message asking that it include SMI specifically.
On Sunday, I visited Travis. I didn’t see him in May because our visiting day fell on Mother’s Day which I spent with family. He walked into the visiting area and, at first, I didn’t recognize him. His hair’s been shaved short — for summer — and he’s growing a beard. He looked great. I told him, “I really like your haircut. And your beard.”
We hugged and Travis said, “I finished reading your book.” (His mother, Kathy, sent him a copy.) Then he said the most perfect thing, “I love Pat. I love all his Facebook posts. He’s so funny. And smart. I think he’ll be an influencer for our generation. I copied the list of his favorite books. I’m going to read all of them.”
Travis’s eyes filled with tears as he spoke. My eyes filled with tears as I listened. Travis was clearly moved. “I totally get him,” he said. “I like him so much.” More tears.
I’m getting such heart-felt reactions to Sooner Than Tomorrow. In reviews, in emails, in cards and letters. Many have commented about Pat and his sense of humor. But, hearing about him from Travis, in person, with tears in his eyes, was mind-blowing for me.
I reached for his hand. “Thank you,” I said.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began reading your book. And then I couldn’t put it down. You’re such a good writer.”
Travis is reading other books, too. He’s taking a college health class during the summer. “It’s really interesting. I’ve read the first three chapters. It’s about physical health, mental health, emotional health — about keeping everything in balance. I’m ready for these college classes. I wasn’t ready for them before I was sent to prison. My self-esteem is much better now. I know I can study and learn.”
Travis was also pumped about a basketball tournament he took part in on Saturday. His team (“We were the ‘crazy’ team. All of us have psych issues.”) beat five other “normal” teams. “We were champions for the day. We never played together before and we just clicked. Sports are important to me. I ran 10 miles (around the prison yard) for the soldiers who died on D-Day. To honor them. I’m in the best shape of my life.”
I asked Travis if there had been any more discussion about transferring him to a prison closer to his family in Southern California. He said, “They’re not going to move me right now. My psychiatrist and my psychologist are going to take me off lithium. It’s affecting my thyroid. Then I won’t be taking any medications. They want to watch me and see how I react. We’re all hoping I can function okay without meds.”
Travis likes his medical team. He thinks they’re competent. He thinks they care about him. “They like me,” he said. “I tell them about my feelings and my emotions. Not every client is open with them and they appreciate that I am.”
“I’m growing,” Travis continued. “I’m making the most out of my time in prison. I’m working out. I’m reading. I’m writing songs for our church service. I’m a better person than I was.”
“Travis, it sounds like you’re focusing on the positive aspects of being here. Do you think other inmates do that?”
“I don’t know. I don’t want to judge anyone else. Probably not everyone does. There are fights and other bad stuff happens. Being here is forcing me to know how to interact with others. It’s not always easy living with my cellie, but I’m learning about relationships. I was kind of a recluse before I came here. I managed a motel in the mountains and I spent a lot of time by myself.”
It feels like our conversations are evolving. Travis asked me questions, too. “How are you doing, Dede?” (good) “How’s your mom?” (good) “How’s The Jazz?” (good) “What books are you reading?” (Mama’s Last Hug by Frans De Waal, I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott, Another Rubber Chicken Dinner by Bev Chinello)
Visiting hours ended. It was time to leave. “Have a good month, Travis. I’ll see you in July.”
I always turn to wave at Travis as I walk away. He’s always waiting. And he waves back.
TO ALL 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES:
I often hear discussions about mental health awareness, but don't hear discussions about serious mental illness (SMI).
With SMI, (schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, 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 roughly 5% (10million) of the mentally ill in the US. And ten times as many people with SMI are incarcerated as are hospitalized. These individuals don't get the attention they deserve and consistently fall to the bottom of the proverbial heap.
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 exclusion repeal (beds), HIPAA 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 support will have the courage and insight to raise SMI issues and to create a plan to deal with them on a national scale.
What is your plan for SMI? (Not mental health. Not drug addiction.) I would like to read about it on your website. Thank you for your prioritization of SMI issues.
If you agree, please share widely. Or copy and paste.
#seriousmentalillness #SMI #schizophrenia #schizoaffectivedisorder#bipolardisorder #depression #OCD #parityinmentalhealthcare #IMDrepeal#HIPAAreform #braindiseaseresearch #treatmentnotincarceration#soonerthantomorrow
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.