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When We Were Small: An Intense Struggle with Depression

I broke down on a cold December evening and rested my head on the window.
I didn’t know how unclean I’d become, until I watched the world fill with snow

My parents always did everything they could for me. It was the seventies. There was hardly any psychiatric medication to speak of then, cognitive therapy was barely emerging and, in general, the information on mental illness was not there to discuss, if you wanted to. I first felt it when I was about eight years old. Depression. When I was sad, I got comfort from my stuffed animals. I wasn’t their king. I wasn’t their leader. I was their peer. Whole stories were told in a small Wisconsin house in a single evening. And although I liked to be alone often, to make up my own world, I had many close friends. Aside from getting beaten up occasionally in middle school, most of my childhood was happy and without trauma(more…)

Mental Health & Writing: A Bad Son Letter to the World

When I was a boy, I became obsessed with a Civil War officer named Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. I acquired and devoured every biography written about him that I could find (there are a LOT), watched Ken Burns’s epic “The Civil War” documentary around four times (it’s eleven hours and thirty minutes) watched “Gettysburg,” featuring Jeff Daniels as Chamberlain, many, many times. I dutifully memorized facts about his pre-war life (fluent in 10 languages, sang in choir, mother wanted him to become a preacher), his military career (hero of Little Round Top, shot six times, one of only two battlefield promotions bestowed by U. S. Grant, commander of the surrender ceremony at Appomattox), his post-war endeavors (president of Bowdoin College and Governor of Maine for four terms, died in 1914) and I visited Chamberlain’s stomping grounds in Maine with my wife, years after the intensity of the obsession had, I guess, somewhat subsided.  (more…)

The Family and Schizophrenia

Mike Hedrick with his father

“We knew something was just not right.”

In talking with my parents about my psychotic break, the one thing that stands out from their experience is the fear and their worry about their son. When I was twenty years old, I went on a trip to the U.N. because I thought I was a prophet of God. I left without telling anybody and I didn’t call my parents until a week later when I had finally had enough and I decided to come home. The phone call was very cryptic. All I said was that I’d be home the next day and that they should pick me up at the train station. During that car ride, I started to ramble about aliens and my mission and the hugeness of it all. I was in awe that my parents couldn’t see it.  (more…)

Why Mental Health Recovery Can Take Years

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I get messages from people all the time about my work. Many times, they’re looking for advice on how to help a loved one with mental illness. Sometimes I feel that, through me, they are trying to find some magic cure that can help immediately. The only advice I give is to be there and, above all else, give it time. That can be hard to come to terms with when your world seems so chaotic, but time is truly the only thing that can heal in situations like these.  (more…)

Born into Addiction and Withdrawal

born into addiction

 

Editor’s note from Glenn Holsten:

A few months ago, Lauren Dicair submitted an essay about her life to OC87 Recovery Diaries. I was stunned by her story — it contained tremendously sad details of a traumatic childhood that was followed by years of wrestling with mental health issues.  I was also impressed by her resilience — the writer who had weathered so many emotional and physical storms was able to tell her story with quiet determination and thoughtful reflection.

Follow this link to see all of the posts from Lauren.

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