More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Mental Health Heroes: Strong at the Broken Places
by Sue Bergeson
Friday, January 25, 2008

Do you have a mental heath hero? I have a couple of them.

Pat Deegan, PhD, is one of my heroes. Check out her thought-provoking recovery journal on her website. And read her story about the sea rose - it is so gorgeous, it just about makes me weep.

Another one of my heroes has to be Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison. The books she's written are so helpful and hopeful. And her authority as a researcher who lives with a mood disorder makes her that much more important to many of us-a researcher who knows how it feels to live with our illness!

Now, I'm one very lucky person because both Pat and Kay, along with my third hero, will all be co-keynoting with award-winning author Richard M. Cohen at the 2008 DBSA National Conference in Virginia in September. But that is not why I'm writing this. I'm writing this because I've been thinking a lot about my third hero, Larry Fricks, over the past few weeks.

Larry, as you may or may not know, is featured in a recently-released book that Richard Cohen wrote called Strong at the Broken Places. Richard chose five different consumers living with chronic illnesses to portray in his book: a woman with Crohn's disease, a man with cancer, a woman with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease), a young man with muscular dystrophy and Larry, who lives with bipolar disorder. Richard lives with his own chronic illness, multiple sclerosis, which he explored in his book Blindsided. He has won several Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award for his work in the journalism field and is married to Meredith Viera, host of he Today show.

I read Strong at the Broken Places in just a few hours and found it empowering and hope-filled. I also watched a special segment about the book on the Today show. One of the reasons this was important to me is that I go through a predictable bad time during the winter season. And this year has been no different. I struggle to move forward. Getting up is difficult each morning, and I have the feeling that nothing I do has any value-that every mistake I've made in my life precludes me from having a full life like others seem to have.

What Larry taught me, once again, is that it is in our brokenness that we are strong. That there's no shame in having made mistakes based on our illness. He reveals some really raw things about his life before treatment and about his slow journey back to health. And he reminds me yet again that each of us has a unique journey and a unique gift to give the world.

Which I guess is why he is one of my heroes.

So, who are your heroes?
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