Throughout our lives, we travel a health-to-illness continuum, always seeking a return to wellbeing. While we acknowledge the physical realities of this continuum, it's harder to accept the emotional, cognitive and behavioral aspects.
That's the tricky part about family secrets. Their contents don't have to be secret at all; as long as everyone agrees not to see or speak about what's actually hiding in plain sight -- like Grandpa's likely suicide.
The holiday season is a good time to talk about brain disorders. The kind I'm talking about are more commonly referred to as mental illness, but I think that term detracts from the fact that depression, anxiety disorders and other such conditions arise in the brain.
"The definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes over and over again and expecting different results," utters the know-it-all guy in the coffee shop offering free "therapy" to his visibly shaken friend. He couldn't be more wrong.
All clinicians should be wary of seeing their patients only as a set of symptoms. They're not; they're individual human beings, each with a history and a particular (though not always healthy) way of coping with a hard, uncertain world. As are we all.
In a year that has brought us not only a stock-market plunge and economic crisis but also Jared Loughner, Anders Breivik and Levi Aron... it is to Benedict Carey's credit that he is writing about how those with severe mental illness can lead fruitful lives without violence.
Though I have never been violent, I should be barred from owning a gun. It defies logic to permit someone with severe mental illness, especially one who has a history of violence or was recently discharged from the hospital, to possess a firearm.
Did you ever look at your husband or wife and feel that person is an impostor? Janet, a 24-year-old graduate student, came home from a stressful day at school and found a man she thought was a stranger in her bed.