“The World’s Toughest Book Critic” recently lauded Approaching Neverland as “A captivating memoir of love, loss, mental illness and redemption.” – Kirkus Reviews
Read the full review
Let’s go back to when Joan and I were 12 and 9, halfway to ten. A boy from school — kind of a thug who was bigger than the rest of the boys in Joan’s class because he’d been held back — had a crush on her and followed her home from school. Although Joan could hold her own around girls, exhibiting a devil-may-care attitude that made them envious, boys — especially big boys with loud voices like this one — made Joan watchful and quiet.
I watched from the living room window as Joan avoided the boy around the spherical juniper bush until he grabbed her sleeve and pulled her close to kiss her. When she screamed, I dashed out the front door and rammed head first into the boy’s side.
He turned, enraged. “Who do you think you are, you little twit?” he asked derisively. Joan wiped away a tear.
“Leave my sister alone!” I screamed, face flushed, taking s step back as I raised my fists. Joan laughed.
“You’re both crazy like your mom,” he sneered before spitting into the juniper and sauntering away.
Although Joan put her hand over her mouth as we walked toward the front porch, I could see the smile beneath it.
Now let’s move forward.
Posted in Approaching Neverland, bipolar disease, family bonds, mental health and families, Mental Health Stigma, sister's murder
Tagged Approaching Neverland, bipolar mother, families and mental illness, Peggy Kennedy, sister love, who killed my sister
Just found a great Australian site — National Network of Adult & Adolescent Children of Mentally Ill Parents — with super advice (see below). The site also features a great downloadable Family Management Crisis Plan.
Tips for Parents with a mental illness for managing life with Children and Young people.
- Be honest with you kids.
- Let them know when you are feeling stressed.
- Talk to them about what you can and can’t do.
- Don’t wrap your kids up in cotton wool. (Hav to admit I’m a little in the dark about the cotton wool advice — pk).
- Let them do ‘kids things’ within reason, let them go to birthday parties and to the pool to the gym.
- Let them go to youth groups, sporting activities, church, religious activities.
- Don’t be over protective.
- Because when you are really unwell these positive experiences from these things can pay off.
- Let them talk to friends and develop friendships in these activities; you have to let them be part of their community.
- Keep well by taking your medication, have regular contact with your psychiatrist.
- Give your kids positive reinforcement.
- Tell them they have done a good job when they have done the washing up or the vacuuming or a task that you appreciate.
- Tell them that you love them, unconditionally, as often as you can.
- Does not matter what they do (your kids), good or bad, tell them that you love them.
In honor of Mother’s Day and my wonderful mother Barbara who had acute bipolar disorder, if you buy a copy of Approaching Neverland now thru May 31, 20% will go to NAMI Walk SF Bay Area to help other families dealing with mental illness!
Posted in bipolar disease, families and mental illness, mental health and families, Mental Health Stigma
Tagged Approaching Neverland, bipolar disease, bipolar disorder, bipolar mother, families with mental illness, mental illness, NAMI, NAMI Walks, NAMIWalks, parent with bipolar, parent with bipolar disease, Peggy Kennedy
The Health Care bill signed into law today should help to improve the lives of individuals and families dealing with loved ones with mental illness. One important thing about the bill is that it requires mental health parity with that for physical illnesses in terms of annual and lifetime treatment benefits. This would also require “carve-out” programs, or specialized managed care organizations that provide mental health services, to comply with parity requirements. I’m hoping this makes a big difference in quality of life for the one in four families dealing with mental health issues.
Posted in bipolar disease, families and mental illness, family bonds, mental health and families, Mental Health Stigma
Tagged Approaching Neverland, behavioral health in health care bill, bipolar disease, families and mental illness, Halth Care bill, men, mental health, mental health and families, mental illness and health care bill, NAMI, parent with bipolar disease, Peggy Kennedy
There’s nothing better than talking to a group of people who get together for the sole purpose of doing good things for their community.
I had the great pleasure of talking about families dealing with mental illness with the Alamo Rotary this afternoon. My hope is that organizations like Rotary will help spread the word to families in their communities who are struggling with with mental illness that help is available through organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which provides a crises help line, education, and family-to-family training in a supportive environment.
Does your family need help with a family member suffering from a mental illness?
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) can help your family get through your family’s mental health crises and live happier this year.
* Information Helpline
Trained volunteers provide information, referrals, and support to all who have questions about or are affected by serious mental illness. Call 1-800-950-NAMI.
Visit www.nami.org to find your local chapter.
Watch this blog for more information about NAMI services and build a happier new year for yourself and your family.
Sat down to write my new year’s resolutions today and came up with the following.
Do my best to utilize Approaching Neverland and our family’s story to help remove the stigma of mental illness.
Re-learn how to golf
Take a trip down the Amazon
Read read and read some more
Finish the first draft of Tiger Lil
I’m really looking forward to giving my talk on what it was like growing up with a mentally ill mom at the Florida Council for Community Mental Health’s 50th Anniversary conference in Boca Raton on Sept. 3 🙂
Those in attendance will be people that work at the grass roots level to help families dealing with mental illness. Our family is eternally grateful to all the people in the mental health field that helped our family navigate through some pretty difficult times and that work to make people’s lives better every day.
This Mother’s Day, I took the time to reflect on what I learned over the years from my mother, who happened to be bipolar. Almost everything seemed to come down to the following five things:
1. Laugh often. Laugh hard.
Life is tough. When something makes you laugh, squeeze it for all its worth. Afterward, things won’t seem so bad.
2. Don’t judge others.
If Mom could be weird but mostly wonderful, others could be, too. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Very few things in life are so important that you can’t take a break from them for a cup of coffee with a friend.
4. Forgive completely.
Even the worst offenders can sometimes redeem themselves. If they don’t, forgive them anyway and move on. At least you’ll be done with them.
5. Love unconditionally.
Our time here is short. The time we get to spend with our loved ones is even shorter. Make sure they know you love them no matter what they say or do.