Dr. Oz & Glenn Close: Should You be Afraid of Mental illness!
In our culture, it is regarded as a common family secret. An unspoken reality. It’s something that we don’t talk about. So Dr. Oz invited Glenn Close, the famous star of “Fatal Attraction”, to talk from firsthand experience about how her family lived with mental illness, and how they are successfully dealing with it. Her sister for 50 years were doing things, that in retrospect were things that you wouldn’t typically expect of any childhood of a family member. When Dr. Oz asked Glenn Close what her family was thinking while this was going on, she answers “For generations in our family, we never talked about it… Never talked about it. It was something that was hidden. Unspeakable. So, we had no vocabulary for it. And the thing that’s hard to come to terms with is that though Jessie had this behavior, we just thought that she was the wild child… that she was irresponsible”.
So when Jessie approached Glenn for help about this problem that she’d been carrying all her life, Glenn explains that “…it was an emotional explosion for me because for 20 years I was a visitor, I was in and out of her life. And I didn’t know that she’d had problems with alcohol or huge problems with drugs… and so in that moment, you help. You find out where you can help… then we talked to our mom and say, ‘okay, what’s the next step?’”. When the family finally realized what was happening, Glenn says it took them a while. They had some misunderstanding and some stigma themselves. “It was frightening because you don’t understand the behavior. But certainly that was the beginning of an amazing journey for all of us.”
Over time, her sister Jessie recovered successfully with her help, with the family’s help and with professional help. She’s very proud just to see this happening. Glenn is very pleased to say that, “This wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for Jessie…she had the courage to start talking about it. We started to talk about starting an organization that would zero in on the stigma…I wasn’t gonna do it without her. And without hesitation she said yes without knowing what that would mean; and not knowing how much courage it would take. The other thing that I’m deeply proud of is that she owned her illness…not going off and sat in a corner and thought ‘my life is over’. She learned about it, she stayed connected to her doctor, she takes her meds and she’s become a productive amazing human being. She always was amazing. She is not her illness. She is my beautiful… beautiful courageous sister.”
After Glenn Close talked about the success story of her sister over mental illness, Dr. Oz introduces Jessie Close. He also introduces the book that Jessie wrote, entitled “RESILIENCE: Two sisters and a story of mental illness”. Jessie’s story is for many of us very difficult to process. That Jessie came out in the open to talk about her mental illness, has created a platform to discuss this pressing matter. At this point, Dr. Oz asks Jessie to explain to everybody what bipolar means and what those moments are like. Jessie explains, “”Bipolar means two…polar means you experience mania which makes you very very high. Colors are extra bright…everything is extra ‘extra’. You don’t need sleep. And then you will crash into a depression which is the complete opposite…in the fetal position a lot. I drink through both mania and depression. But I say that the main reason why I continue to take my medication is to never experience a depression like that again.”
Dr. Oz: 50% of People with Bipolar Disorder Attempts Suicide
Dr. Oz then explains that the reason why he asked that question to start their discussion is because 50% of people with bipolar disorder probably attempts suicide. He says ‘probably’ because there’s no keeping track of its actual cases. He asks Jessie what was going through her mind and when did she know that something was wrong enough to make her approach Glenn to ask help. Jessie’s reply was, “…I had been sober for four years at that point, and I was STILL suicidal. I had developed this voice in my head that I named “the creature”…that it literally kept saying ‘kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself’ and nothing shut it up. So I thought I’m gonna have to obey the voice, but then my children mean everything to me. They mean everything…and I could not do that to them. So I asked Glenny for help.” And so, it was cathartic for her to talk to her family about this creature inside her that’s telling her to do bad things to herself. But more importantly, they were finally able to see that she needed help and she was able to tell them she needed help. Jessie further explains that this conversation didn’t happen when she was younger because back in those days, no one really knew or understood what bipolar is. But hearing Jessie’s story firsthand is a living testimony that treatment does work. Fear of medication for mental illness is unfounded.
How Jessie Close’s Son Dealt With Schizophrenia
Jessie says that she wants to end the social stigma associated with this disorder. Unfortunately, this disease does not stop in one generation. It is passed on to the next because it’s genetic. Jessie’s son has schizophrenia and he was sent to a hospital for two years, in a half-way house kind of arrangement. Today, he is married and a thriving artist. People with mental illness CAN live a normal life if families accept the disease, educate themselves about it, deal with it and commit to treat it.
Dr. Oz: Around 60 Million People live with Mental illness
When Dr. Oz asked Glenn Close what kind of world does she want for people like her nephew and for many other like him, she explains, “I want a world where the government is aware of this problem, knowing that there is 1 in every 4 who suffer in some way…it could be your friend, your neighbor, or your daughter. …I like a world where each community has a place where people who need help from mental illness have a place to go”.
Dr. Oz concludes by saying that to put an estimate on it, there are around 60 million people who probably have mental illness of some form.
With that number, it is much too risky to keep mental illness a family secret any longer than it should. There must be a platform where there is an honest and truthful discussion about this illness, about all its facets, possible causes and available cures. It’s something that most people are ashamed of, which shouldn’t be. The social stigma alone is contributing to the lack for treatment of this disease. We are paying a much higher price for not talking about this problem.
Learn more about Jessie Close’s Story in her Book “Resilience” where she dives into the dark and dangerous shadows of mental illness without shying away from its horror and turmoil. She reveals how she discovered the treatment she needs and how she brought herself back from the edge.