Sunday 11 October 2015

Maine Voices

Reach out and show you care. Friendship is good medicine and being present is the greatest gift of all. (Fran Houston)

Fran’s op-ed article Maine Voices: Time for mental health awareness was published in the Maine Sunday Telegram on October 4, 2015, marking the start of Mental Health Awareness Week.

In it she described her history of mental illness, and her experiences working with psychiatrist George McNeil.

Dr. McNeil gave me what I needed most — the sense of being heard.

Somehow, I learned to be human again. Somehow I began to create habits for myself and grew a life I wanted. As my self-worth got woven together, I began to care.

With Dr. McNeil’s help, I got better. I am not cured. My moods still swing. My symptoms still flare. But I now know how to surround myself with good souls who hold my hand while I try to balance on the seesaw of bipolar disorder. And I have tools in my wellness toolbox.

Fran’s heartfelt account resonated with many who read it. One wrote to her:

This is a powerful description of what you have gone through and manage all the time. If it helps one person who reads this, you have achieved what you want, and if it enlightens one person about mental illness, that is equally important. This is a piece that should be shared to reach many more people. To have shared your experience is powerful in itself. Your testimony about your doctors should also help to encourage others to seek out medical care. We all need to be open to discuss this. (Liz Wagner.)

The article was shared widely. We would like to thank the following in particular:

Maine Behavioral Healthcare (“Great article!”); Family Hope (“Fantastic article by Family Hope friend, Fran Houston. We are always amazed and appreciative of her openness to share her total self with the world.”); Catching Health, with Diane Atwood (“Beautifully expressed by Fran Houston, a woman with many gifts to share.”); Bob Keyes, journalist (“Courageous column about mental health awareness by my friend Fran Houston.”); NAMI Maine (“Well said!”).

Note: “An op-ed (originally short for ‘opposite the editorial page’) is a piece typically published by newspapers, magazines, and the like which expresses the opinions of a named author usually not affiliated with the publication’s editorial board.” (Wikipedia.)

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