"People with Mental Illness Enrich Our Lives"
Information about famous people throughout history who have had a serious mental illness.
The revered sixteenth President of the United States suffered from severe and incapacitating depressions that occasionally led to thoughts of suicide, as documented in numerous biographies by Carl Sandburg.
The British novelist who wrote To the Lighthouse and Orlando experienced the mood swings of bipolar disorder characterized by feverish periods of writing and weeks immersed in gloom. Her story is discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr.
A defensive end for Vince Lombardi's legendary Green Bay Packers of the 1960's, Aldridge played in two Super Bowls. In the 1970's, he suffered from schizophrenia and was homeless for two and a half years. Until his death in 1998, he gave inspirational talks on his battle against paranoid schizophrenia. His story is the subject of numerous newspaper articles.
The famous playwright, author of Long Day's Journey Into Night and Ah, Wilderness!, suffered from clinical depression, as documented in Eugene O'Neill by Olivia E. Coolidge.
Ludwig van Beethoven
The brilliant composer experienced bipolar disorder, as documented in The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb.
The famous opera singer suffered from bipolar disorder, as documented in Donizetti and the World Opera in Italy, Paris and Vienna in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century by Herbert Weinstock.
The "inspired poet of human suffering" experienced bipolar disorder, as discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr.
Author of War and Peace, Tolstoy revealed the extent of his own mental illness in the memoir Confession. His experiences are also discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Inner World of Mental Illness: A Series of First Person Accounts of What It Was Like by Bert Kaplan.
The dancer's battle with schizophrenia is documented in his autobiography, The Diary of Vaslov Nijinksy.
The renowned poet's mental illness is documented in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Broken Brain: The biological Revolution in Psychiatry by Nancy Andreasen, M.D.
The playwright gave a personal account of his struggle with clinical depression in his own Memoirs. His experience is also documented in Five O'Clock Angel: Letters of Tennessee Williams to Maria St. Just, 1948-1982; The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams by Donald Spoto, and Tennessee: Cry of the Heart by Dotson.
Vincent Van Gogh
The celebrated artist's bipolar disorder is discussed in The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb and Dear Theo, The Autobiography of Van Gogh.
The scientist's mental illness is discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist's suicidal depression is examined in the True Gen: An Intimate Portrait of Ernest Hemingway by Those Who Knew Him by Denis Brian.
The poet and novelist ended her lifelong struggle with clinical depresion by taking own life, as reported in A Closer Look at Ariel: A Memory of Sylvia Plath by nancy Hunter-Steiner.
The mental illness of one of the world's greatest artistic geniuses is discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr.
"Had he been a stable and equable man, he could never have inspired the nation. In 1940, when all the odds were against Britain, a leader of sober judgment might well have concluded that we were finished," wrote Anthony Storr about Churchill's bipolar disorder in Churchill's Black Dog, Kafka's Mice, and Other Phenomena of the Human Mind.
The Gone with the Wind star suffered from mental illness, as documented in Vivien Leigh: A Biography by Ann Edwards.
The baseball player for the Boston Red Sox who suffered from bipolar disorder detailed his experience in The Truth Hurts.
The Academy Award-winning actress told of her bipolar disorder in her autobiography and made-for-TV move Call Me Anna and A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic-Depressive Illness, co-authored by Gloria Hochman.
One of the greatest authors in the English language suffered from clinical depression, as documented in The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb, and Charles Dickens: His Tragedy and Triumph by Edgar Johnson.
The word inspire comes from the Latin word for inspirare, which means to breath upon or into. Inspiration is a way of being and a quality that gives us hope when we are challenged and allows us to give hope to others when they are being challenged.
A Prayer for Mental Illness
Recovery and Understanding
By Jaki Shelton Green
Across our land we pray a prayer of hope
Across our land today we become the
for a path of kindness, understanding and strength
We build within us a sacred house of invitation.
Peace is flowing like a river
while gentle strong hands hold harsh waves at bay
Gentle strong hands hold the whispers, the tears,
the disappointments, the fears, and the tragedies
Gentle strong hands hold the recovery, the smiles,
the dance, the celebration, and the joy
Gentle strong hands clasp other gentle strong
hands and lock together.
Our hands help the river flow more peacefully
The river of healing
The river of faith
The river of reconciliation
The river of service.
We extend our hands in a ritual of love,
We extend our hands in a ritual of caring and
We extend our hands in a ritual of anxiety and
We extend strong gentle hands for an anointment
of compassion and mercy.
O source of life,
By Thy mercy which embraces all things
By Thy power which dominates all things
Towards which all things are humble
By the knowledge which encompasses all things
By the light of Thy face through which all
Things are illuminated.
O all powerful
O all great
O all sublime
O first and O last
O that we may sing a song of praise and love
for all people living with mental illness.
O sing a praise of thanksgiving for the families,
the caregivers, the advocates and the wonderment
of science and technology that promises
breakthrough and insight.
O sing a praise of forgiveness for the ignorance,
the silence, the shame, the secrecy, the isolation
and ill treatment.
Enslave the spirit of meanness
O sing multitudes of praises for recovery,
renewal, acceptance and grace
O sing a song of charity for the unspoken
needs and extend gentle hands offering
true tenderness for the broken spirits.
O sing rivers of kindnesses that we all might
surrender and wade into oceans of grace, oceans
of support, oceans of life
as we feel gentle strong hands holding, loving,
strengthening, and affirming us all.
Poet Jaki Shelton Green, a member of NAMI Orange, lives in Mebane.
“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved completely in a lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing that is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love.” Reinhold Niebuhr
"We must be the change we wish to see in the world." Gandhi
"The future belongs to those that give the next generation reason to hope" Pierre Teilhard de Chardin