Anyone who has endured the trauma of rape will want to listen to Sheila’s conversation with Danielle DeLaney, a crisis interventionist who uses her personal experience of victimization to help others learn resilience in the face of the greatest trauma.
Find Danielle at www.DanielleDeLaneyCounseling.Com
@SealPress was just informed that ‘All the Things We Never Knew, Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness’ is an #IndieFab Finalist for Book of the year.
We could use your support. Please click on the link below and vote!
— Seal Press (@SealPress) May 2, 2016
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
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 →
You probably know Sheila Hamilton as the director and host of KINK FM’s Morning Show, on the air weekdays from 5:00 a.m. (Sheesh!) to 9:30 a.m. She’s smart. She’s witty. She has a great voice. Whether the topic is politics, culture, music, or fashion (and she’s definitely one of Portland’s most fashionable figures), Sheila knows her stuff. Oh, yeah she’s won five Emmy awards in documentary filmmaking.
Or maybe you know Sheila as a longtime liberal sparring partner with conservative radio host Lars Larson. You can find an image of the two of them playfully attempting to strangle one another on YouTube. Lars even once asked if he could get a kiss on the cheek from Sheila if a point he’d made about Medicare Part B turned out to be correct (I guess you get what you can).
In 2009, I was teaching in Croatia as a Fulbright scholar when Sheila contacted me about a book project she’d been working on. Only later did I learn that it was a memoir, All the Things We Never Knew. Now, almost seven years later, the book is out: the story of her life with a husband suffering from mental illness. It’s a remarkable book, and it expresses Sheila’s remarkable fortitude, along with her courage, her zest for life, and her capacity to face despair while still finding time to laugh, cry, love and give back.
A few weeks back, Sheila and I sat down at Portland State University’s Center for the Humanities, where we talked for two solid hours. She’s a striking figure, tall and lean and elegant, and she wore an alligator-patterned dress and magnificent spiky heels. (She jokes about her shoes fairly often—it may be a happy weakness). She apologized a bit for her fancy attire, she was the keynote speaker at a Portland literary event later that evening.
Her story began well over ten years ago, when her husband, who we’ll call David, spiraled into a series of bipolar cycles, each one more and more frightening. As his illness worsened, Sheila struggled to understand what was happening to the man she loved, just as she fought to hold her family together, to care for her young daughter, and to retain her own grip on things.
Interventions and hospitalizations followed, but the story came to its tragic end in December of 2006, when David took his life in a wooded area overlooking the Columbia River gorge. His worsening cycles, between mania and depression, had brought him back to a place he loved: the serene spaces of the natural world. There he put an end to a life that had become unbearable to him.
But that wasn’t the end.
Sheila’s anguish led her to ask why, and how, things had gone so far. As she reflected on the trauma and despair that increasingly shrouded David’s life, she started to notice clues that had been missed. She started to write about the expe- rience of David’s illness, decline, and death. The result is a beautifully written, brave, and spellbinding book—a memoir of love, mystery, loss, renewal and hope. It is a story of the pain of mental illness. But it is also a story of the redemptive power of love. It is a story Sheila Hamilton wants people to hear.
The December issue of The Atlantic just went online a few days ago, and it’s already landed in my inbox a half a dozen times. The senders know me as a mental health advocate, a radio host and the author of a new book called ‘All the Things We Never Knew, Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness.’
The title of the article, ‘The Silicon Valley Suicides,’ strikes me both professionally and personally.
My daughter and I are suicide survivors. She is also a freshman at Stanford University.
Yes, I’m concerned. I’m also hopeful.
The Atlantic article talks about an issue widely discussed in Silicon Valley circles, but not so much in the public at large,–why are some of the world’s brightest students committing suicide? Palo Alto has had two high school suicide clusters since 2009, and the rate of anxiety and depression among high-achieving students is alarmingly high.
Palo Alto is not a community that ignores a problem as serious as teen suicide. In fact, community response has been swift; the CDC is helping assess local suicide risk factors, national and local experts advise on the science of suicidality, and the community has refined youth well-being programs. After criticism from students about the pressure to succeed, local high schools have reduced academic and performance pressure and convened “Project Safety Net, coordinating the work of public and private organizations focused on teen wellbeing.
I applaud every effort. And, I’d add this. I don’t believe we’ll “engineer” our way out of this problem without first acknowledging that suicide is a crisis of mind, body, and spirit. If I’ve learned anything in the ten years since my husband died by suicide, it is this: Suicide is the best and the last choice of the sufferer, and any attempt by survivors to answer “why” is frustrating and incomplete.
My husband told his doctors he compensated for his depressions for twenty-five years. Before his first episode of mania, he never spoke of having a mental health problem because his family viewed it as a weakness of self. As I read the profiles of the Palo Alto teens who have died by suicide, I recognize similar traits: high intellect, extreme sensitivity, a feeling of isolation and loneliness. And impulsivity. David never seemed to develop an eye to his divinity, or what some may call self-love. He suffered from a great deal of self-loathing, and the ultimate diagnosis of a mental illness was a radical personal affront to his view of himself. Science, engineering, and technology all focus on the realm of the knowable. I often wonder if David might be alive if he’d been willing to spend more time pondering the unknowable, the mystics, or the divine.
In a decade of research and writing on mental health, I’ve never found someone bold enough to say, “Here’s why people die by suicide.” Each new circumstance challenges the last. But this much seems reasonable: in our development of self, anyone whose identity is undermined by radical personal or cultural change is at risk to suicide. Adolescents and young adults, now living at hyper speed and undergoing radical change, seem to be at higher risk than ever. The very students we thought were destined to be our best and brightest are calling out for help. A big part of their lives, or at least the part that allows us to feel a connection to one another, has gone missing.
We must embrace our humanness and the parts of us that may not be viewed “successful” by an outside world. Fellow writer and Portlander Cheryl Strayed described it as developing the qualities people talk about at your funeral, not the achievements listed on your Linked In profile. We must teach our kids that the qualities of vulnerability, empathy, resilience and compassion are far more important to health and happiness than their SAT score. Mindfulness training is one way to get there. So is prayer. And learning from failure.
If we’re talking about how to solve a serious problem, we may want to develop the app for sitting still, for breathing, and for allowing a spiritual connection to take root. There isn’t an award or accolades given for seeking, but it may hold the biggest reward of all. I’m coming to Palo Alto December 4th to talk about mindfulness and mental health. I welcome your comments and suggestions. www.SheilaHamilton.com
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