Late Night Action Interview

Sheila Hamilton from Portland’s KINK.fm talks about her book All The Things We Never Knew, mental health, and romance on Late Night Action w/ Alex Falcone. More: http://latenightaction.com

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:

‘What Should We Have Known?’

A conversation with FOX News Health host, Dr. Manny Alvarez.

Mental illness, unlike breast cancer, isn’t celebrated with big marches or pink ribbons. The stigma is stifling and it prevents most people from seeking help. David, my husband, refused to accept the label of bipolar disorder. He could not imagine a life of medications and therapy, which did so little to help. David’s path is not unique. Suicide is now the ninth most common cause of death for men and women in America. Every thirteen minutes, another American dies from suicide.

What could we have done differently?

What should we have known?

It is my belief that many people could benefit from hearing more about how psychiatric conditions unfold. In the years, months and days leading up to David’s death, I didn’t classify him as mentally ill. I missed many signs. I ignored others, believing it could get better. And I scrambled, as the world came crashing down around us, I scrambled to maintain my own sanity and the health of our daughter.

Our daughter celebrates her birthday each June. I can’t help but measure her birthdays with an equal sense of apprehension and elation. She’s a teenager now, and still no sign of the brooding, the polarity, the darkness that descended on David like Portland’s thick gray clouds in January, refusing to budge. Yes, she has his intellect but she also has my relatively sunny nature. She is physically stunning with long, muscular legs and a waist that defies her voracious appetite. She has David’s European cheekbones. The color of her skin is his. Her ears have the same shape. There are times I find myself staring at one of her features for too long. She bats me away, “Mom, enough.”

After David’s death, I’d read every book I could get my hands on about bipolar disorder. I’d measured the likelihood of a genetic inheritance against the things I could influence– her diet, her sleep, exercise, a sense of well-being and unconditional love. She is just fine, so far. Becoming aware of our family’s genetic vulnerabilities was painful, but it provided a unique gateway to also focus on our genetic strengths, and Sophie has inherited a majority of the good stuff. She’s attending college now with the sensitivity, compassion and intellect of a person who will be better than “just fine.”

I want everyone to know about the signs and symptoms that I missed with David. The anxiety, confusion, disorganization, trouble completing tasks and how withdrawn he became. My interest is in preventing another loss of life as exquisite as David’s. I welcome your emails, your stories, and hopefully, your support. Connect with me and sign up for my newsletter. I’d be so grateful if you did.

Watching the Hawks Interview

On this episode of “Watching the Hawks” Sheila Hamilton joins Tyrel and Tabetha to talk about the bane of mental illness in our society and how the pharmaceutical industry is not properly equipped to help people cope with their psychological disorders.

What is the most important factor in treating mental illness? Competence.

It’s been nine years this week since my late husband David died by suicide. Everything about this time of year releases a cascade of emotion that is unbearable, the softening of the light, the gold and amber in the leaves, the heat during the day dissipating to cold nights. There is a vivid memory of David’s state of mind, a cold, agitated horror at his state of being. Even breathing seemed to be an effort that exhausted him.

At a time when we needed the very best care we could get, we experienced a system that retraumatized David to the point of hopelessness. An initial misdiagnosis, a prescription that pushed David over into a state of akathisia and suicidality, a lockup care center whose contracted doctors made money– not by helping people– but by admitting as many patients as they could squeeze into a bland and hopeless enclosure. We knew it was oppressive when we were in it, but, in insight, it was also a shameful failure of care.

Currently, there is no standard of education for a diagnosis. Many people treat depression, including family practitioners and social workers, and the varying degree of competence is maddening for families who are desperate for quality care. Families seeking help find professional camps divided between psychopharmacology and psychotherapy. And often, medications compound the suffering. Caught in the middle, patients are dying.

This year marks the tenth consecutive year our nation’s suicide rate has increased while outcomes for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are improving. Half of those who died by suicide were under the care of a general practitioner. One-third of those who died by suicide were under the care of a psychiatrist. As one doctor told me, “It’s time to put the head back on the body.”

We demand excellent outcomes for every other major disease. We track success rates for heart surgeons. We compare and contrast survival rates for cancers. Why has the treatment of mental illness in our country been so lacking that many inpatient psychiatric centers don’t even bother tracking the outcome of their patients? David’s doctors didn’t realize he’d killed himself just one day after his release!

We could be saving lives by coordinating patient care- sharing essential treatment information, scheduling and tracking referrals, and providing proper follow-up care. With today’s technological advances, a fully coordinated system of care is possible, and is even being practices in some parts of the country with very good outcomes.

I’m just one survivor. But for every death by suicide, the National Institute for Mental Health suggests eight people are profoundly affected. Last year, 41,000 Americans died by suicide. The toll of grief, confusion and chaos impacts hundreds and thousands of people every year.

What is the most important factor in treating mental illness? Competence. We should demand it.

Happiness is a garden. Tend to it.

Eric Hutchinson gladly lent his support to the #KeepOregonWell campaign. The singer-songwriter talked openly about battling depression and why he thinks everyone should consider talking with a therapist about the challenges they face.

Eric was in town with Kelly Clarkson at the Moda Center.

Alpha Rev Frontman Casey McPherson/Suicide Survivor, mental health advocate

Alpha Rev’s Casey McPherson’s music has so much emotional depth and beauty, one begins to sense that this charismatic frontman has been to very, very dark places and lived to tell about it. McPherson was incredibly open in this interview about his father’s suicide, and later, the suicide of his only brother. The former front man of Endochine, Mcpherson dissolved his band of five years and formed Alpha Rev to grapple with the aftermath of grief.

Today, McPherson helps other suicide survivors by advocating for mental health with the National Institute of Mental Health and offers up layered, orchestral, melody driven masterpieces.

Casey’s father suffered from Bipolar disorder and Mcpherson says he likely also suffers from the disorder. However, Mcpherson’s self-care is so exact, and his heart so open to accepting the beauty and the heartache of bipolar disorder, that he manages without medication.

“Music changes people,” says McPherson. “We’re trying to find happiness in music as opposed to self-destruction,” Indeed.