Posts in Stories of Hope

TEDxYouth, Kevin Breel: Confessions of a Depressed Comic

August 28th, 2013 Posted by Stories of Hope 0 thoughts on “TEDxYouth, Kevin Breel: Confessions of a Depressed Comic”

August 28th, 2013

Kevin Breel is a 19 year old writer, comedian, and mental health activist.

As a rising young stand up comedian in Canada, Kevin is also extremely involved in mental health work; actively speaking at schools and organizations.

His activist work has garnered international media attention and has impacted the lives of thousands of young people in North America. For more:

TED Talks, Eleanor Longden: The Voices in my Head

August 8th, 2013 Posted by Stories of Hope 0 thoughts on “TED Talks, Eleanor Longden: The Voices in my Head”

August 8th, 2013

To all appearances, Eleanor Longden was just like every other student, heading to college full of promise and without a care in the world. That was until the voices in her head started talking. Initially innocuous, these internal narrators became increasingly antagonistic and dictatorial, turning her life into a living nightmare. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, hospitalized, drugged, Longden was discarded by a system that didn’t know how to help her. Longden tells the moving tale of her years-long journey back to mental health, and makes the case that it was through learning to listen to her voices that she was able to survive.

Logan Noone video

No longer silent: Man with bipolar disorder speaks up about his illness, inspiring others

March 7th, 2013 Posted by Stories of Hope 0 thoughts on “No longer silent: Man with bipolar disorder speaks up about his illness, inspiring others”

Link To Original Article: Fox News by Lren Grush, March 07, 2013

A few months ago, Logan Noone made a decision that everyone told him would be a terrible idea. He started talking.

In May 2011, Noone was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a psychiatric condition marked by alternating periods of intense depression and good or irritable moods.  While seeking treatment for his mental health at a hospital, his doctors and fellow patients all told him the same thing – don’t tell anyone about your illness.

Logan Noone sky diving“They all said, ‘You have to be careful about who you tell, because people may discriminate against you, and it could ruin your career,’” Noone, a 23-year-old Connecticut native who now lives in California, told “And it was really frustrating for me because I thought, ‘Yeah, but they might not.’”

Though he adamantly disagreed with the idea of keeping quiet, Noone ended up taking his physicians’ advice and ultimately kept his condition to himself.

Read The Full Story at

How Family and Friends Can Aid Mental Health Recovery

October 9th, 2012 Posted by Stories of Hope 0 thoughts on “How Family and Friends Can Aid Mental Health Recovery”

Link To Original Article:

By Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Recovering from mental illness is terrifying and exhausting, both for the person diagnosed and those who stand beside them throughout the recovery process. Sometimes, particularly when the diagnosis is new, the person suffering feels as if they will not ever become well again.

Family and friends might be unsure if recovery is possible. They question how they can help. Mental illness creates a feeling of helplessness for everyone involved. My and my family’s experience with chronic mental illness has allowed me to understand how important it is to have a support group. It can define the journey taken to recover from mental illness.

My diagnosis is rare. I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder when I was 12. While my siblings were attending school and playing soccer on weekends, I was confined to a children’s psychiatric hospital. I remember wondering what was wrong with me. I remember my parents, wide-eyed, watching as my moods shifted by the hour, even the minute. We were all terrified. Mental illness is frightening at its core.

Unsure what to do, my parents brought me to doctors, psychiatrists, therapists and even nutritionists. The various doctors told them I hadAttention Deficit Disorder; the psychiatrists told my parents they were parenting me badly. They were certain that explained my erratic behavior.

The therapist asked me to draw pictures that they thought would explain my moods. I refused to use any crayon that was not black, threw the toys that were carefully placed around the brightly lit room, and tore up the paper. I was unable to control myself. She dismissed me as being ‘overemotional’ and ‘narcissistic’ at the ripe age of 11. The nutritionist told me I was allergic to dairy products. My family, in a show of support, stopped eating anything containing dairy.

Fourteen years ago, professionals simply could not believe a child could have a serious mental illness−despite our family tree being defined by mental illness and suicide.

The years before my diagnosis were painful and affected our family dynamic immensely. My two siblings watched their older sister fall apart; they viewed their parents trying to catch me as I fell into blackness. My illness was quickly making my family ill.

It is impossible to capture my experience with mental illness in a few words, but I can tell you that without the support of my family, friends and a support team, I would not be writing these words. Twenty-six years old now, I feel I have some experience under my belt (so to speak) and would like to share different ways in which people can support a loved one struggling with mental illness.

Often, a newly diagnosed person is confused and angry. They may believe they do not need help. They might push away family and friends. As a person living with a chronic mental illness, I can tell you that isolation often results from fear. Mental illness carriesstigma and it is frightening.

For example: I fall into a severe and crippling depression each winter. Each time it occurs I am, somehow, surprised. I quickly forget that my life is usually full of color and that waking up each morning often makes me smile. When I become ill I am certain I will never be well again.

If a family member or friend is unstable, the most important thing you can do is remind them that they will become well again. Without my family and friends to help me through each winter, to assure me that my life will become mine again, once spring arrives, I would certainly struggle more.

It is important to have a plan of action. Effective communication will be crucial if the person with mental illness shows signs of a relapse. A plan of action for such an event creates a feeling of security both for the person struggling and for those who love them.

An example: My family and I sat down with my psychiatrist−once it was clear my episodes were seasonal−and made a plan, in writing, that stated the steps that would be taken if I became ill. It was a difficult thing to do at the time. Seeing my diagnosis on paper made it real. But that paper provides a feeling of security for all of us.

The plan can include medication alterations, community outreach, and simple things like charting your mood and recognizing patterns. I believe this can be one of the most useful tools when working to help someone recover from a mental illness. It certainly is not a document that is placed on my fridge—it’s hidden away somewhere—but it has been instrumental in my recovery.

The health of those who support the mentally ill person often gets ignored. When I first became ill, my entire family suffered. My parents, while working full-time and taking care of my two siblings, spent years focused on my illness and recovery. In the process, they became unwell themselves. My mother slipped into a depression and my father worked to keep our family functioning. It was not easy.

Often, when a person must spend so much time focusing on someone they love, they forget to take care of themselves. It is impossible to help someone else if you become sick yourself. Ask yourself: “Do I need to step back?” Sometimes you do. My family has learned both to support me and support each other. It is in this way that we have been able to embrace recovery together.

Read The Original Article:

After Drugs and Dark Times, Helping Others to Stand Back Up

December 19th, 2011 Posted by Stories of Hope 0 thoughts on “After Drugs and Dark Times, Helping Others to Stand Back Up”

Link To Original Article: The New York Times

Published: December 19, 2011

SMYRNA, Del. — The taste of cocaine and the slow-motion sensation of breaking the law were all too familiar, but the thrill was long gone.

Antonio Lambert was not a young hoodlum anymore but a family man with a career, and here he was last fall, high as any street user, sneaking into his workplace at 9 o’clock at night, looking for — what, exactly? He didn’t really know.

He left the building with a few cellphones (which he threw away) and a feeling that he was slipping, falling back down into a hole. He walked in the darkness, walked with no place to go, and then he began to do what he has taught others in similar circumstances to do: turn, face the problem, and stand back up.

“I started talking to myself, out loud; that’s one of my coping strategies, and one reason I relapsed is I had forgotten to use those,” said Mr. Lambert, 41, a mental health educator who has a combined diagnosis — mood disorder with drug addiction — that is among the scariest in psychiatry.

He texted a friend, someone who knew his history and could help talk him back down. And he checked himself into a hospital. “I know when it’s time to reach out for help.”

The mental health care system has long made use of former patients as counselors and the practice has been controversial, in part because doctors and caseworkers have questioned their effectiveness. But recent research suggests that peer support can reduce costs, and in 2007, federal health officials ruled that states could bill for the services under Medicaid — if the state had a system in place to train and certify peer providers.

In the years since, “peer support has just exploded; I have been in this field for 25 years, and I have never seen anything happen so quickly,” said Larry Davidson, a mental health researcher at Yale. “Peers are living, breathing proof that recovery is possible, that it is real.”

Exhibit A is Mr. Lambert, a self-taught ex-convict who is becoming a prominent peer trainer, giving classes in Delaware and across the country. He is one of a small number of people who have chosen to describe publicly how difficult it is to manage such a severe dual diagnosis, including the sudden setbacks that often come with it.

“He is an extreme example of how much difference passion and commitment can make, given where he’s come from,” said Steve Harrington, the chief executive of the National Association of Peer Specialists, a group devoted to promoting peer support in mental health care.

Mr. Lambert, who has climbed out of a deep hole with the help of religious faith, medication and his own forms of self-expression, puts it this way: “There are a lot of people dealing with mental illness, drugs, abandonment, abuse, and they don’t think there’s a way out. I didn’t. I didn’t.”

Bean Bean in Spider City

His grandmother was the first person to call him Bean Bean, and the boy was so skinny that he couldn’t shake it.

He couldn’t avoid the older toughs in the Brighton section of Portsmouth, Va., either, and he spent some of his school-age years taking beatings. That was Brighton back in the day, and at least those fights taught survival skills. Not everything did: He remembers being sexually abused at age 6, by an older boy in the neighborhood — brutally.

He had no one to tell, even if he had known what to say. His mother and father were split, living blocks apart, each a fixture in the neighborhood’s social swirl of house parties, moonshine “shot shops,” card games and other attractions. His mother, called Chucky, was often out, sometimes leaving the boy at a friend’s house for “a few hours” that turned into an entire weekend. For much of that time, he waited on the porch.

He idolized his father, a truck driver and warehouse worker who lived nearby but spent his free time out, too, drinking and playing cards.

“During that time I was an alcoholic, but I would go out and try to find him when I heard he was out,” said his father, Edward Lambert, in a recent interview at his house in Brighton. He gave up drinking years ago for God, and father and son would eventually become close.

Read The Full Article: The New York Times

Lives Restored: Profiles of Mental Illness

November 25th, 2011 Posted by Stories of Hope 0 thoughts on “Lives Restored: Profiles of Mental Illness”

Link To Original Article: The New York Times, Interactive Feature

A series profiling people who are functioning normally despite severe mental illness and have chosen to speak out about their struggles.

Finding Purpose After Living With Delusion

By BENEDICT CAREY, November 25, 2011

In the delusional world that he inhabited for years as a younger man, Milt Greek was grandiose, messianic. He was sure that he was in contact with God and Jesus, and that he had a mission: to save the world from itself. After receiving treatment for his schizophrenia, Mr. Greek saw those thoughts as a product of psychosis – but as relevant as ever, in maintaining his recovery. He takes medication and occasionally visits a therapist, but to stay well he needs to be working to better the world, or at least his own community.

Read The Original Article: The New York Times, Interactive Feature

A High-Profile Executive Job as Defense Against Mental Ills

October 22nd, 2011 Posted by Stories of Hope 0 thoughts on “A High-Profile Executive Job as Defense Against Mental Ills”

Link To Original Article: The New York Times

Published: October 22, 2011

PASADENA, Calif. — The feeling of danger was so close and overwhelming that there was no time to find its source, no choice but to get out of the apartment, fast.

Keris Myrick headed for her car, checked the time — just past midnight, last March — and texted her therapist.

“You’re going to the Langham? The hotel?” the doctor responded. “No — you need to be in the hospital. I need you consulting with a doctor.”

“What do you think I’m doing right now?”

“Oh. Right,” he said. “Well, O.K., then we need to check in regularly.”

“And that’s what we did,” said Ms. Myrick, 50, the chief executive of a nonprofit organization, who has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, a close cousin of schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. “I needed to hide out, to be away for a while. I wanted to pamper myself — room service, great food, fluffy pillows, all that — and I was lucky to have a therapist who understood what was going on and went with it.”

Researchers have conducted more than 100,000 studies on schizophrenia since its symptoms were first characterized. They have tested patients’ blood. They have analyzed their genes. They have measured perceptual skills, I.Q. and memory, and have tried perhaps thousands of drug treatments.

Now, a group of people with the diagnosis is showing researchers a previously hidden dimension of the story: how the disorder can be managed while people build full, successful lives. The continuing study — a joint project of the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of Southern California; and the Department of Veterans Affairs — follows a group of 20 people with the diagnosis, including two doctors, a lawyer and a chief executive, Ms. Myrick.

The study has already forced its authors to discard some of their assumptions about living with schizophrenia. “It’s just embarrassing,” said Dr. Stephen R. Marder, director of the psychosis section at U.C.L.A.’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, a psychiatrist with the V.A. Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and one of the authors of the study. “For years, we as psychiatrists have been telling people with a diagnosis what to expect; we’ve been telling them who they are, how to change their lives — and it was bad information” for many people.

No more so, perhaps, than for Ms. Myrick, who after years of devastating mental trials learned that she needed a high-profile position, not a low-key one, to face down her spells of paranoia and despair. Her treatment regimen, like most others’ in the study, is a combination of medication as needed and personal supports, including an intuitive pet dog, the occasional weekend stay at a luxury hotel — and, not least, a strong alliance with a local psychiatrist.

“I feel my brain is damaged; I don’t know any other way to say it,” Ms. Myrick said. “I don’t know if it’s from the illness, the medications, all those side effects or what. I only know that I do need certain things in my life, and for a long time — well, I had to get to know myself first.”

‘The Jagged Piece’

Keris Jän Myrick was an Army brat. She grew up around the world and nowhere in particular, moving from Bremerhaven, West Germany, to Los Angeles to Fort Leavenworth, Kan., to Englewood, N.J., to Seoul, South Korea, and back stateside again, as her father advanced in the ranks. The changing locations and temporary friends made the family close, and Col. Howard A. Myrick and his wife, Roberta, were strong advocates for their daughter and her older brother, Kyl, wherever they landed.

“Let’s just say that their mother and I had to continually go to school and deal with teachers who had presumptions about their ability based on cultural factors,” said Howard Myrick, now a Temple University professor of communications who lives in Philadelphia. Roberta Myrick died in 2009.

Brother and sister thrived, in academics, in music, he in sports, but she was the more sensitive soul and felt increasingly isolated socially, and self-critical. The only black girl among her playmates in West Germany and South Korea, she also became conscious of race early on. “It’s important to know that everyone around me was white; I was the epitome of a minority,” she wrote about one period living overseas.

Yet if she looked different from her classmates abroad, she spoke and acted very differently from the African-Americans in Englewood. She was taunted, ostracized; the black world seemed no more ready to offer her a place than the white one. When she was 8, her father left to serve a tour in Vietnam, and suddenly her one constant, the family, felt vulnerable, transient.

Read The Full Article: The New York Times

Learning to Cope With a Mind’s Taunting Voices

August 6th, 2011 Posted by Stories of Hope 0 thoughts on “Learning to Cope With a Mind’s Taunting Voices”

Link To Original Article: The New York Times

Published: August 6, 2011

LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — The job was gone, the gun was loaded, and a voice was saying, “You’re a waste, give up now, do it now.”

It was a command, not a suggestion, and what mattered at that moment — a winter evening in 2000 — was not where the voice was coming from, but how assured it was, how persuasive.

Losing his first decent job ever seemed like too much for Joe Holt to live with. It was time.

“All I remember then is a knock on the bedroom door and my wife, Patsy, she sits down on the bed and hugs me, and I’m holding the gun in my left hand, down here, out of sight,” said Mr. Holt, 50, a computer consultant and entrepreneur who has a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

“She says, ‘Joe, I know you feel like quitting, but what if tomorrow is the day you get what you want?’ And walks out. I sat there staring at that gun for an hour at least, and finally decided — never again. It can never be an option. Patsy deserves for me to be trying.”

In recent years, researchers have begun talking aboutmental health care in the same way addiction specialists speak of recovery — the lifelong journey of self-treatment and discipline that guides substance abuse programs. The idea remains controversial: managing a severe mental illness is more complicated than simply avoiding certain behaviors. The journey has more mazes, fewer road signs.

Yet people like Joe Holt are traveling it and succeeding. Most rely on some medical help, but each has had to build core skills from the ground up, through trial and repeated error. Now more and more of them are risking exposure to tell their stories publicly.

“If you’re going to focus on recovery, you might want to ask those who’ve actually recovered what it is they’re doing,” said Frederick J. Frese III, an associate professor ofpsychiatry at the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine who has written about his own struggles with schizophrenia.

“Certainly, traditional medicine has not worked very well for many of us,” Dr. Frese went on. “That’s why we’ve had to learn so many survival tricks on our own.”

First among Mr. Holt’s many resources is his wife, who has been an effective at-home therapist — in part, paradoxically, because she does not consider mental illness an adequate excuse to shirk responsibilities.

“When I think of all that happened, I just can’t believe she’s still with me,” said Mr. Holt, who lives near Kansas City, Mo. “You have to understand, for so many years I was hearing her say terrible, nasty things that she wasn’t saying.”

‘I Was So Broken’

Lonnie Joseph Holt grew up an orphan. After his parents split up, his grandmother took in Joe and three older siblings but was soon overwhelmed when her husband died; off the children went to Childhaven, a residential facility in nearby Cullman, Ala., that was sponsored by her church. At least the children would be together. It was Feb. 20, 1964. Joe was 3.

But the staff kept the Holt children apart, records show. The siblings rarely saw one another, much less had a chance to speak. The eldest, Jack, made repeated attempts to escape, and the second eldest, Susie, made at least one, according to records kept by the home and acquired by Mr. Holt.

They had their reasons. “There were regular beatings, sometimes with a board, sometimes with a Ping-Pong paddle, sometimes with a razor strap,” Mr. Holt said. “You had to memorize a portion of the Bible, and if you didn’t, you’d get a beating. Once I got beaten so badly I thought I was going to pass out.”

Jack, now a retired Church of Christ minister in Texas, has similar memories.

In 1984, a Childhaven staff member pleaded guilty to sodomizing a minor, and another man to beating a child with a paddle. (The staff has long since turned over, and the home instituted safeguards and is now considered a leading provider, said its current executive director, James Wright.) The Holts were gone by then, Joe zigzagging between homes, living for a time in Alabama and with his father in Cleveland before joining his mother, her new husband and stepsiblings in a bungalow apartment in a complex off Highway 71 near Kansas City.

It did not last. One summer day Joe’s mother and her husband packed up and moved to Texas — and told the 16-year-old boy that he was not invited.

“I honestly don’t remember where Joe lived after that,” said Ted Rogers, a high school friend who is still close. “He was staying on his own, just, I don’t know — around. He didn’t really say.”

Read The Full Article: The New York Times

Expert on Mental Illness Reveals Her Own Fight

June 23rd, 2011 Posted by Stories of Hope 0 thoughts on “Expert on Mental Illness Reveals Her Own Fight”

Link To Original Article: The New York Times

View The Video Feature

Published: June 23, 2011

HARTFORD — Are you one of us?

The patient wanted to know, and her therapist — Marsha M. Linehan of theUniversity of Washington, creator of a treatment used worldwide for severely suicidal people — had a ready answer. It was the one she always used to cut the question short, whether a patient asked it hopefully, accusingly or knowingly, having glimpsed the macramé of faded burns, cuts andwelts on Dr. Linehan’s arms:

“You mean, have I suffered?”

“No, Marsha,” the patient replied, in an encounter last spring. “I mean one of us. Like us. Because if you were, it would give all of us so much hope.”

“That did it,” said Dr. Linehan, 68, who told her story in public for the first time last week before an audience of friends, family and doctors at the Institute of Living, the Hartford clinic where she was first treated for extreme social withdrawal at age 17. “So many people have begged me to come forward, and I just thought — well, I have to do this. I owe it to them. I cannot die a coward.”

No one knows how many people with severe mental illness live what appear to be normal, successful lives, because such people are not in the habit of announcing themselves. They are too busy juggling responsibilities, paying the bills, studying, raising families — all while weathering gusts of dark emotions or delusions that would quickly overwhelm almost anyone else.

Now, an increasing number of them are risking exposure of their secret, saying that the time is right. The nation’s mental health system is a shambles, they say, criminalizing many patients and warehousing some of the most severe in nursing and group homes where they receive care from workers with minimal qualifications.

Moreover, the enduring stigma of mental illness teaches people with such a diagnosis to think of themselves as victims, snuffing out the one thing that can motivate them to find treatment: hope.

“There’s a tremendous need to implode the myths of mental illness, to put a face on it, to show people that a diagnosis does not have to lead to a painful and oblique life,” said Elyn R. Saks, a professor at the University of Southern California School of Law who chronicles her own struggles with schizophrenia in “The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness.” “We who struggle with these disorders can lead full, happy, productive lives, if we have the right resources.”

These include medication (usually), therapy (often), a measure of good luck (always) — and, most of all, the inner strength to manage one’s demons, if not banish them. That strength can come from any number of places, these former patients say: love, forgiveness, faith in God, a lifelong friendship.

But Dr. Linehan’s case shows there is no recipe. She was driven by a mission to rescue people who are chronically suicidal, often as a result of borderline personality disorder, an enigmatic condition characterized in part by self-destructive urges.

“I honestly didn’t realize at the time that I was dealing with myself,” she said. “But I suppose it’s true that I developed a therapy that provides the things I needed for so many years and never got.”

‘I Was in Hell’

She learned the central tragedy of severe mental illness the hard way, banging her head against the wall of a locked room.

Marsha Linehan arrived at the Institute of Living on March 9, 1961, at age 17, and quickly became the sole occupant of the seclusion room on the unit known as Thompson Two, for the most severely ill patients. The staff saw no alternative: The girl attacked herself habitually, burning her wrists with cigarettes, slashing her arms, her legs, her midsection, using any sharp object she could get her hands on.

The seclusion room, a small cell with a bed, a chair and a tiny, barred window, had no such weapon. Yet her urge to die only deepened. So she did the only thing that made any sense to her at the time: banged her head against the wall and, later, the floor. Hard.

“My whole experience of these episodes was that someone else was doing it; it was like ‘I know this is coming, I’m out of control, somebody help me; where are you, God?’ ” she said. “I felt totally empty, like the Tin Man; I had no way to communicate what was going on, no way to understand it.”

Her childhood, in Tulsa, Okla., provided few clues. An excellent student from early on, a natural on the piano, she was the third of six children of an oilman and his wife, an outgoing woman who juggled child care with the Junior League and Tulsa social events.

People who knew the Linehans at that time remember that their precocious third child was often in trouble at home, and Dr. Linehan recalls feeling deeply inadequate compared with her attractive and accomplished siblings. But whatever currents of distress ran under the surface, no one took much notice until she was bedridden with headaches in her senior year of high school.

Her younger sister, Aline Haynes, said: “This was Tulsa in the 1960s, and I don’t think my parents had any idea what to do with Marsha. No one really knew what mental illness was.”

Soon, a local psychiatrist recommended a stay at the Institute of Living, to get to the bottom of the problem. There, doctors gave her a diagnosis of schizophrenia; dosed her with ThorazineLibrium and other powerful drugs, as well as hours of Freudian analysis; and strapped her down for electroshock treatments, 14 shocks the first time through and 16 the second, according to her medical records. Nothing changed, and soon enough the patient was back in seclusion on the locked ward.

Read The Full Article: The New York Times


About Rehinge

Rehinge exists to provide hope, education, and spiritual inspiration for all people affected with mental health issues and to fight stigma while pushing for global mental health reform.

Learn More »

What People Are Saying

  • “It has been one of my greatest rewards as NAMI Greenville, SC Program Director to see your recovery from when we first met to your award as NAMI South Carolina’s Recovery Person of the Year to your appearance on the same stage with author Pete Early. I hope your book is every bit as successful as his has been.”

    Brian Lewis
    • Fletcher Mann
    • Program Director NAMI Greenville, SC
  • “It’s incredible. If you aren’t sure, always go for Cast. I don’t always clop, but when I do, it’s because of Cast. I made back the purchase price in just 48 hours!”

    Patrick Bates
    • Patrick Bates
    • CEO, SouthCentral
See all
  • “It has been one of my greatest rewards as NAMI Greenville, SC Program Director to see your recovery from when we first met to your award as NAMI South Carolina’s Recovery Person of the Year to your appearance on the same stage with author Pete Early. I hope your book is every bit as successful as his has been.”

    Brian Lewis
    • Fletcher Mann
    • Program Director NAMI Greenville, SC
  • “It’s incredible. If you aren’t sure, always go for Cast. I don’t always clop, but when I do, it’s because of Cast. I made back the purchase price in just 48 hours!”

    Patrick Bates
    • Patrick Bates
    • CEO, SouthCentral