“Mental illness is just part of the human condition,” Glenn Close said today on “Good Morning America.” Halleluia! A Hollywood response to all the scientology. Today Close spoke out for the first time on television about the legacy of mental illness in her own family: Her sister, Jessie, suffers from bipolar disorder, and Jessie’s son has schizo-affective disorder.
Glenn has launched a nonprofit organization called BringChange2Mind, which she hopes will raise awareness about mental illness, strip mood disorders like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia from their unfair stigma, and lend support and information to the mentally ill and their families.
Katie Escherich of ABC News writes:
Jessie, the youngest of the four Close siblings, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder nine years ago at the age of 47, “after living with it probably her whole life,” said her sister. Bipolar disorder affects some 5.7 million American adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
The actress said her sister was always a “wild child,” and Jessie now says she knew for most of her life that something was wrong. Both sisters said a lack of understanding of mental illness when they were growing up played a part in Jessie’s delayed diagnosis.
“You don’t talk about depression or alcoholism or mental illness. …I think that’s probably true in a lot of families,” her sister said. “We didn’t have the vocabulary, we didn’t have the knowledge.”
With medication, Jessie Close’s symptoms have been brought under control, and family members realize how fortunate it is that they can afford good care. She has experienced side effects, including fatigue and weight gain, and finding a balance between staying stable and staying creative took time. Jessie, a writer, said, “It’s worth it.”
“We’re getting more and more sophisticated medication,” Glenn Close said. “We need to keep people with mental illness living full and productive and creative lives.”
Go check out BringChange2Mind.org!
And a humongous hug to Glenn Close!!!