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Deconstructing Stigma: A Root of Depression Is Trauma With Marlena Davis

Sometimes, there are just no words to express what you’re feeling. A year ago, Marlena stopped the antidepressant medication she had been taking for a dozen years. She had hoped to have a baby. But instead, she developed memories of childhood abuse. It happened more than 30 years ago. The perpetrator had abused other kids. The trauma had blocked it from my memory. What Marlena had remembered was the depression, irritability, and isolation. 

Marlena uses photography, drawing, poetry, and painting to express the way she is feeling. Through PeaceLove Studios in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, she honed her expressive art skills through their CREATORS program, with hopes of teaching the technique to others, including kids and teens with autism. On Facebook, she talks about her own battle with mental illness, and launched the Pix of the Day project, a series of rich, moving photos that instill emotion.

When she’s not behind the camera, Marlena surrounds herself with animals—including a 2-year-old pitbull, Kemo, and her rabbit, Penelope. She now sees her therapist of 13 years weekly to work through her childhood memories. And she hopes to revisit her dream of motherhood soon. She is committed to speaking up about her mental health, to change attitudes about an illness that is not unlike any other.

Deconstructing Stigma: A Chat About Bipolar Disorder with Joe Fusaro

Joe Fusaro joins us to talk about the incredible initiative he is a part of with McLean Hospital: Deconstructing Stigma. Since elementary school, Joe has had trouble with something that comes so naturally to most people—sleep. Despite his sleep patterns, good grades always came easily to Joe. He played music and was good at sports. Yet Joe frequently felt anxious. Just days after he started college, the 9/11 attacks happened and placed a cloud over daily life. One night, Joe felt unmotivated to do schoolwork, and a friend introduced him to the drug Adderall. It was the start of a decade-long love/hate relationship with medication. The drugs would help for a year or so, then the upper and downers would impact Joe’s sleep. He’d have major depressive episodes and wind up in detox and the hospital. The cycle would repeat again and again. Making matters worse, Joe began having  psychotic episodes, talking to himself about spaceships and someone trying to kill him. Doctors prescribed more medication.

It was 2013 when Joe decided there must be another way. He found a new doctor who taught him meditation techniques and proper nutrition and referred him to an herbalist to help manage his symptoms. Joe repaired relationships with friends and family. He wanted to give back and looked to the diary entries he made over the years as a possible way to help others.

Joe has published three books of insight and poetry about his illness, with part of the proceeds going to mental health organizations. He still sees a psychiatrist regularly. Someday, he wants to work with kids with learning disabilities or mental health issues.

Deconstructing Stigma: Mental Illness is a Family Centered Illness

Ann Roselle is a nurse practitioner who has been in the nursing field for nearly twenty years. She currently practices in the field of adult and geriatric psychiatry. She lives in greater New Haven Connecticut with her husband and three children. 

Ann took part in McLean Hospital’s initiative to talk about postpartum depression and how the medical community can stigmatize those who work in the field when they report mental health problems.

Deconstructing Stigma: Amy Cerel Shares Her Journey with Postpartum Depression

Amy Cerel is a 57 year old wife and proud mom of 2 young men ages 22 and 18.  She began her family after earning an MSW and MBA, and embarking on a successful career as a clinical social worker and organizational consultant.  She suffered a postpartum depression following the birth of her first child, and with the support of wonderful family and an outstanding physician, sought and received the appropriate treatment for her illness.  She chose to stay on her treatment course and did not relapse following the birth of her second child.  While raising her sons she returned to work part time, as she continues to do now that her sons are grown.  She volunteered to participate in McLean Hospital’s public awareness campaign, Deconstructing Stigma, to raise awareness that postpartum depression is an illness to be treated and not a character flaw or judgment on one’s ability to be a mother and love her children.  Today she is actively involved in her local community outreach efforts to support organizations that assist the most vulnerable populations at physical and emotional risk.

Deconstructing Stigma: OCD and Anxiety Disorder with Jessica Fahey

Another terrific contributor to McLean Hospital’s mental health inititative Deconstructing Stigma, Jessica Fahey joins our host Kristin Walker to talk about OCD and Anxiety Disorder. Jessica is the picture of success. She manages more than 25 employees that oversee lab space where scientists work on lifesaving discoveries. She recently married her love, an army veteran of the Afghanistan war turned police officer. They bought a house and rounded out their family with a new puggle puppy (a pug/beagle mix). Jessica accomplished all this with severe obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety disorder. Looking back, Jessica remembers the ritualistic behaviors she developed as a young child. She would recite prayers over and over again until they were perfect, otherwise she feared someone in her family would die. She also pulled her hair and eyebrows out and picked at her cuticles until they bled because of her nervousness. Her senior year in high school, she had her first panic attack—gasping for breath and white flashes in her vision—and called her mother, terrified. Curious about her illness, Jessica studied psychology in college. She started weekly therapy there, and while she feels much more in control of her anxiety and OCD today, she still sees a therapist every month to keep it in check. She wants others dealing with mental illness to know that even when you can’t see a way out, there is one. Don’t be afraid to step forward. Tell someone you need help.

Deconstructing Stigma: No Shame On U Founder Miriam Ament

No Shame On U Founder and President, Miriam Ament, has a B.A. in American History from Barnard College, Columbia University and an M.A. in Organizational Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University.  She was also a recipient of the JCC PresenTense Chicago 2014 Fellowship and, in 2016, earned her Certificate in Leadership from Northwestern University and Spertus. In addition, Miriam is certified in Mental Health First Aid. Miriam is also a member of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Faith Communities Task Force. Over thirteen years ago, Miriam was hospitalized three times for depression and encountered stigma and isolation from many friends and family members who didn’t have the emotional tools and practical knowledge base to deal with the illness. Miriam is dedicated to utilizing her life experiences in order to normalize the mental health conversation and end the stigma. She lives in Chicago with her husband, musician David Forman.

Miriam was a part of McLean Hospital’s initiative

Deconstructing Stigma: Jamie Lenis on Managing Depression and Motherhood

Jamie is one of the incredible partipants on an initiative created by McLean Hospital called Deconstructing Stigma. Our podcast platform has agreed to help spread the word about this incredible program. Jamie was one of our first guests on the podcast and her story is so raw, honest, funny, and exactly what millions of people deal with every day, including our host Kristin Walker.

Join us for what was an joyful yet painful conversation about both of their triumphs, struggles, and the on-going work it takes to stay on the path to mental well being. 

Read more the story around the intiative in the Boston Globe HERE.


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