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"Brains are unmentionable:" A father reflects on reactions to daughter’s mental illness

I'm a few days late to this, but I must draw readers' attention to the beautifully written "No One Brings Dinner When Your Daughter Is An Addict." In the piece, the author compares how friends reacted when his wife was treated with breast cancer with how they responded when his drug-addicted daughter was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. As he and his wife managed their daughter's illness, there were "no warm casseroles... no scalloped potatoes in tinfoil pans" brought to them, he wrote, before explaining:

Friends talk about cancer and other physical maladies more easily than about psychological afflictions. Breasts might draw blushes, but brains are unmentionable. These questions are rarely heard: "How's your depression these days?" "What improvements do you notice now that you have treatment for your ADD?" "Do you find your manic episodes are less intense now that you are on medication?" "What does depression feel like?" "Is the counseling helpful?" A much smaller circle of friends than those who'd fed us during cancer now asked guarded questions. No one ever showed up at our door with a meal.

The piece, which originally appeared on Slate, is powerful and thought-provoking - and a reminder of the need to better support those caring for the mentally ill.

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