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
Loved meeting Joyce Cooling
Saturday’s SF Bay Area NAMIWalk was a huge success, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide free services to families dealing with mental illness throughout the SF Bay Area. Kickoff Speaker Joyce Cooling, the fabulous jazz guitarist whose brother has struggled for years with mental illness, gave an incredibly moving tribute to her brother, her mother, and the folks at NAMI, who she said were a godsend to her mother during her struggle to help her son. Major kudos to Joyce for her tremendous support, to Laurie Williams, NAMIWalk Director, for putting on a fabulous event, and to all the NAMI volunteers who work hard every day to make life easier for families struggling with mental illness. The Approaching Neverland Team, comprised of many wonderful book club friends, was proud to have participated! More information about SF Bay Area NAMI can be found at http://namiwalksfbay.org/
Posted in book club like family, families and mental illness, family bonds, Joyce Cooling and NAMI, mental health and families, Mental Health Stigma
Tagged Approaching Neverland, Approaching Neverland book events, bipolar disease, book club friends, families and mental illness, NAMI, NAMI Walk, stigma of mental illness; family
Over the 5 years that it took me to complete Approaching Neverland, I looked forward to many things: to finally feeling like I’d captured the essence of my family and gotten our story right; to the great feeling of finally being published; to focusing on all of the things that I had neglected while engrossed in writing. But what has truly blown me away is how incredible it feels to have someone really GET what you’ve written exactly how you hoped they would. My meeting this past Saturday with the Bay Area Discussion Group Book Club was full of so many moments of understanding and fabulous humor (not to mention delicious pot roast and potatoes!) that it hit me that sometimes the walls between family and friends dissolve and we’re all left sitting in the living room wondering why the walls were there in the first place and whose turn it is to fix dinner. Can you say grace?
Would love to have you join me on the set of View from the Bay for my appearance on May 7th! It’s free and should be a blast — you’ll have the chance to meet co-hosts Spencer Christian and Janelle Wang and see all that great behind the scenes stuff!
Here’s how to do it:
Tickets for the show are FREE but must be reserved in advance. Audience doors open at 2:15pm with a cut-off time of 2:30pm, the show is live from 3-4pm.
To reserve your seats please call the ticket request line at (415)-954-7733 or visit http://www.viewfromthebay.com and click on “be in our audience” and fill out a ticket request form. Or click on the link below to go to the online ticket request form. Simply fill out your information and press submit.
Under “comments” please be sure to note “Peggy Kennedy.”
I’m very excited that Approaching Neverland is on Kindle
Posted in Approaching Neverland Kindle, Kindle Approaching Neverland
Tagged Approaching Neverland, Approaching Neverland NAMI, bipolar disease, book clubs, Carter Center Mental Health, families and mental illness, families with mental illness, kindle, mental health month, Mother's Day, parent with bipolar disease
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.
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