More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
A map out of mental illness: Film offers hope to those in despair
December 26, 2006
The News & Observer

Raleigh, NC, Dec. 26 -- Ted Thomas struggled with his mental health, not knowing what was wrong with him for most of his adult life. Swinging from impossible highs to suicidal lows, he bounced from job to job. Twice, in the throes of crisis, Thomas left North Carolina, not telling his wife and son where he was heading.

Then, Thomas, 46, did something remarkable: He got better.

Thomas, who lives in Salisbury, tells his story in a new DVD documentary aimed at inspiring others with mental illness.

In Journey of Recovery, Thomas talks about how, at age 41, he finally got a diagnosis to describe the mental anguish he'd endured since his teenage years -- bipolar disorder. He describes how his symptoms eased when he began taking the right medication for the illness, also called manic depression.

Today, Thomas's symptoms are not gone, but they are under control. He directs a program that helps others with mental illness take steps toward recovery.

"I'm helping other people learn to do what I did," Thomas said.

Journey of Recovery, which is aimed at mental health providers, patients and their family members, is the brainchild of Bart Kean, a Wilmington native who, like Thomas, struggled with mental illness for years before getting help.

Kean, 41, was working in the film industry in Los Angeles for a large post-production company in 1992 when he experienced a psychotic break that culminated in a suicide attempt. Even as he lay in a hospital bed with bandages covering his cut wrists, Kean thought his mental state was fine. He refused to tell doctors about the voices that had urged him to take his own life.

It wasn't until five years later, when Kean was living with his mother in West Virginia, that he got treatment. After a second psychotic break, Kean was hospitalized and agreed to take medication -- something he had resisted. Once Kean, who was diagnosed with delusions combined with mood disorder, started feeling stable, the idea of making a film about recovery struck him.

"The good thing about mental illness that people can realize is that you can recover," said Kean, who had stayed up on the latest film editing technology and was confident he could produce a professional quality product out of his home. "It's not something you have to be in for the rest of your life."

Kean, who lives in Albemarle, a town about 45 miles east of Charlotte, believed he had found the right person to deliver that message when he met Thomas through a regional mental health group. Kean was impressed by Thomas's personal story, his knowledge of mental health resources and his ability to speak effectively about both.

The 28-minute film has been well received by mental health professionals and consumers in North Carolina.

The Mental Health Association in North Carolina, based in Raleigh, has sent more than 600 free copies of the DVD, mostly to mental health providers across the state. The association also hosted a premiere of the film in Raleigh this month, which about 100 people attended.

Thomas hopes others with mental illness will be moved.

"I didn't have to stay the way I was," Thomas said. "People do recover and can have a better quality of life."


I don't suppose anyone has any idea where i can view this short film at?? I used the link but it's not available there anymore.
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David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
The link was only to the newspaper story about the film. The only place I could find the film was a North Carolina mental health site with a real-world library. I wasn't able to find it online at this time.

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
That sounds more like schizophrenia than bipolar disorder.

There are degrees of severity in bipolar disorder just as in schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.

Diagnostic criteria for 296.4x Bipolar I Disorder, Most Recent Episode Manic

A. Currently (or most recently) in a Manic Episode.

B. There has previously been at least one Major Depressive Episode, Manic Episode, or Mixed Episode.

C. The mood episodes in Criteria A and B are not better accounted for by Schizoaffective Disorder and are not superimposed on Schizophrenia, Schizophreniform Disorder, Delusional Disorder, or Psychotic Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

Specify (for current or most recent episode):

Severity/Psychotic/Remission Specifiers
With Catatonic Features
With Postpartum Onset


Longitudinal Course Specifiers (With and Without Interepisode Recovery)
With Seasonal Pattern (applies only to the pattern of Major Depressive Episodes)
With Rapid Cycling


The movie sounds interesting. I'll have to watch for it. I still say the hearing voices part is schizophrenia, though, combined with bipolar disorder. From the article:
Once Kean, who was diagnosed with delusions combined with mood disorder

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
I still say the hearing voices part is schizophrenia, though, combined with bipolar disorder.

You seem to be under the misconception that if you experience hallucinations you must have schizophrtenia. That is incorrect.
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