An Honest Conversation about Mental Illness

City Club of Portland presents Friday Forum: RAW – An Honest Conversation about Mental Illness with Sheila Hamilton, Storm Large, and Dr. Chris Farentinos.

Join Sheila Hamilton (pictured), News Director and Co-host of the morning news program at KINK-FM who recently authored a book, All the Things We Never Knew, and Storm Large, singer and author of the book, Crazy Enough, as they discuss the trauma of a family member’s mental illness with Dr. Chris Farentinos, Director of Behavioral Health at Legacy Health and spokesperson for the Unity Center for Behavioral Health – a forthcoming collaboration of Legacy, Adventist, OHSU and Kaiser. Join us as we dive in, look up and look ahead … envisioning a place where people suffering from mental illness, and their families, are treated as compassionately, holistically and empathetically as people suffering from heart disease, a broken bone or cancer. How can we get there?

Storm Large’s one woman show and award winning memoir, Crazy Enough echoes the familiar sadness and survival in Sheila Hamilton’s brilliant new release. The topic of mental illness is finally being discussed more openly, connecting a huge, lonely part of our society with other survivors, as well as people and organizations who can further help them.

Dr. Chris Farentinos
After serving as Chief Operating Officer for De Paul Treatment Centers, Dr. Chris Farentinos became Director for Behavioral Health Services for Legacy Health, a not-for-profit health system with six hospitals and more than 50 clinics in Portland and Southwest WA. Dr. Farentinos is a leading advocate behind Unity Center for Behavioral Health, a collaboration between Legacy, Adventist, OHSU and Kaiser to consolidate current psychiatric units and to create a 24/7 psychiatric emergency service located in Portland. Unity is set to open in late 2016

Straight Talk Interview

Sheila was a guest on KWG TV’s Straight Talk with Laurel Porter.  Here is the interview “Dealing with Mental Illness,” in two parts:

I want to challenge you to answer honestly

An excerpt from Sheila’s article published on Huffington Post:

I want to challenge you to answer honestly when I say these two words: Mentally ill. What was the image you created in your mind? Was it a homeless person shuffling down the street? Was it a person in a straitjacket? Someone rocking back and forth? Continue reading on Huffington Post →

Think Out Loud Interview

Just in case you missed the Think Out Loud interview, here you go!

Portland reporter Sheila Hamilton didn’t know her husband was suffering from bipolar disorder until too late.

My name is Tony and I’m living well with Depression.

If more people shared their stories of illness and eventual recovery, it would have a profound effect on those who are suffering in silence. I recently posted a request on the Huffington post asking for stories of recovery.

I heard from a psychologist who refused to recognize his own depression, even as he treated other people in crisis. I heard from a CEO who was so ashamed of his anxiety disorder that he suffered a panic attack in a high level board meeting. I heard from a teacher who was substituting for a health class before she realized she might have post traumatic stress syndrome. I’ve received so many letters and heard so many stories of people’s initial reluctance to recognize their illness and seek treatment. And yet, the reason I am now hearing from these courageous people is because they all eventually found a path to recovery.

It’s not easy. Recovery takes patience, commitment, strong support from family and friends, and the willingness to be brutally honest with oneself. It takes wading through therapies to find the one that clicks with your way of life. Some therapists are extremely gifted. Others are horrible. (I’d love to see an “Angie’s list” of therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists and care centers, complete with reviews and feedback from users.) It’s important to note: In every case of recovery, there is one person who believes in the person so wholeheartedly, they provide enormous support. Most times, it is a therapist or a doctor who provides the unflinching support. Other times, it is a spiritual advisor, a yoga teacher, a friend or a partner.

Tony is one such example.He stopped me in the hallway at work after we worked together on a mental health campaign. “I thought it was hypocritical not to tell you I’m living well with a mental illness.” he said. My heart immediately opened to Tony and his story. He works every day to keep his illness in check. It took many years to figure out the right combination of anti-depressants, therapies, exercise and mindfulness. As Tony notes, these therapies, drugs and coping mechanisms may not always work. He still struggles to keep his negative thoughts in check, but he works his program every single day. “For many years, I wished someone could wave away my illness,” Tony says. “Now, I realize it’s made me the sensitive and compassionate person I’ve become.”

Tony is brave beyond measure. I’m thrilled to bring you his story. And, I’d love to hear yours.