Streams In The Desert: May 23rd, 2015

Leave It To God
“Roll on Jehovah thy way”   Psalms 37:6
Whatever it is that presses thee, go tell the Father; put the whole matter over into His hand, and so shalt thou be freed from that dividing, perplexing care that the world is full of. When thou art either to do or suffer anything, when thou art about any purpose or business, go tell God of it, and acquaint Him with it; yes, burden Him with it, and thou hast done for matter of caring; no more care, but quiet, sweet, diligence in thy duty, and dependence on Him for the carriage of thy matters. Roll thy cares, and thyself with them, as one burden, all on thy God. –R. Leighton
Build a little fence of trust
Around today;
Fill the space with loving work
And therein stay.
Look not through the sheltering bars
Upon tomorrow;
God will help thee bear what comes
Of joy or sorrow. –Mary Butts
We shall find it impossible to commit our way unto the Lord, unless it be a way that He approves. It is only by faith that a man can commit his way unto the Lord; if there be the slightest doubt in the heart that “our way” is not a good one, faith will refuse to have anything to do with it. This committing of our way must be a continuous, not a single act. However extraordinary and unexpected may seem to be His guidance, however near the precipice He may take you, you are not to snatch the guiding reins out of His hands. Are we willing to have all our ways submitted to God, for Him to pronounce judgment on them? There is nothing a Christian needs to be more scrutinizing about than about his confirmed habits and views. He is too apt to take for granted the Divine approbation of them. Why are some Christians so anxious, so fearful? Evidently because they have not left their way with the Lord. They took it to Him, but brought it away with them again. –Selected

Praise & Worship: May 22nd, 2015

1.  The Unmaking-  Nichole Nordeman

2.  Exhale-  Plumb

3.  Through My Father’s Eyes-  Holly Starr

4.  You’re Not Alone-  Owl City/Britt Nicole

5.  Greater-  Mercy Me

6.  Jesus Loves Me-  Chris Tomlin

7.  And All The People Said Amen-  Matt  Maher

8.  He Knows My Name-  Francesca Battistelli

9.  Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)-  Hillsong

10.  He Knows-  Jeremy Camp

11. That’s How You Forgive-  Shane & Shane

California Woman’s Shocking Descent Into Anorexia, In Her Own Words

Taken from  Yahoo News  which is found   HERE.

Rachael Farrokh, 37, says she has been fighting a battle with anorexia for 10 long years — but now, an extreme decline in her health has her determined to seek treatment and share her story with the world.

Prior to her 10-year journey, Farrokh was the girl next door — beautiful, talented, healthy and smart, according to her husband, Rod Edmondson, 41, of San Clemente, California.

“She was a very active individual growing up,” he said. “She was valedictorian, graduated summa cum laude. She’s a perfectionist.”

However, as her illness took hold, the 5-foot-7 Farrokh went from weighing a healthy 125 pounds to a now-shocking number that she asked not be disclosed. Farrokh, now so thin you can see her bones through her skin, spends her days and nights in a hospital bed inside her home.

“My sister gave me a collage of pictures of when I was acting or doing certain things,” Farrokh told ABC News. “I look at that girl, the head shot, it’s only a few years old. It’s like I know I’ve wasted this much of my life. I just want to be that person again — that strong, independent woman that can be herself.”

The couple met while Edmondson was working as a personal trainer at the gym where Farrokh was a member for years. He said he is now unemployed and acting as his wife’s full-time caregiver — and both say Farrokh now wants to accept help, but it may be too late.

Edmondson has created a GoFundMe page to help cover Farrokh’s medical expenses in hopes that they can get her into a facility that can help her. But because Farrokh’s weight does not reach the minimum weight requirement set by certain facilities, she and her husband said, she is unable to go through recovery at a hospital or a treatment center.

Dr. Michael Strober, professor of psychiatry and director at the eating disorder program at the Resnick UCLA Neuropsychiatric Hospital, said the refeeding process can pose potential dangers to a person depending on their age, past treatments and the severity of the illness.

“Refeeding syndrome results from metabolic changes that are associated with feeding an individual who has been calorie-depleted,” Strober said. “So, the feeding needs to be carefully monitored. The refeeding syndrome will involve the body’s attempt to adapt to sudden introduction of nutrients. … Too rapid increase of calories can result in the metabolic adaptation which is associated of a number of hazards, which can be life-threatening.”

Farrokh said that the severe drop in her weight has caused her serious health problems, many of which have almost cost her life.

“I’ve had heart, kidney and liver failure and osteoporosis for the past seven years,” she said. “When I went to the hospital in January, they flooded me with fluids and I gained 40 pounds overnight in water weight. That’s when my body started shutting down.”

Farrokh said her weakened state became more evident after she took a hard fall in her home in September 2014. Since then, she said, she has been unable to walk on her own or do simple tasks without her husband’s assistance. Edmondson now carries her, bathes her and attempts to keep up with her sporadic sleep schedule.

“What’s funny [is] it doesn’t really sink into your psyche,” she said. “You say, ‘OK, I’m going to get up and brush my teeth. Oh wait, I can’t.’ Even in my dreams, I dream as how I used to be.”

While she’s still able to articulate herself, Farrokh often loses her train of thought. Edmondson will then help her continue conversations.

“At such a low body weight, my brain is a little slower than I would like,” Farrokh said. “Sometimes, you’ll forget what you said a few seconds ago. You’re just not on your game.

“I want other anorexics to hear this,” she added. “This is miserable. Everything hurts from my head down to my toes. It’s really hard to [stay on topic], so what I try to do is have conversations with Rod and keep in contact with other victims on Facebook to be encouraging and supportive of one another.”

Farrokh said she is desperate to make a full recovery and plans on opting for either professional home care or checking herself into a particular out-of-state clinic that may accept her.

“It’s one of the options, but now we are getting some news that they want me to do a medical check to see if I can be lifted” to the clinic’s location, Farrokh said. “It’s one of the only places that will take me.”

The clinic declined to comment on any particular case, citing privacy laws.

Both Edmondson and Farrokh said that, at first, they never saw signs that Farrokh was suffering from an eating disorder.

“I was a senior account executive,” Farrokh said. “I was this doe-eyed girl that was just graduating college in a failed atmosphere, and I was also going through trauma from my past. It was the perfect storm.”

Farrokh believes her anorexia spiraled out of control after she lost her job, she said, and as she continued to deal with a painful memory from her past, which she would not disclose.

“I just felt out of control,” she said. “At first it was innocent, where I wanted to drop a few pounds to get better abs.”

In an effort to expose the unvarnished reality of Farrokh’s current state and help her stay on the path to recovery, her husband enlisted the help of a friend to film his wife going about her day-to-day activities.

“Rachael’s weight was so low and we had a photographer do some shots,” Edmondson said. “She wants to have a purpose, to help people and raise awareness.”

The footage reveals how Farrokh’s eating disorder has changed her life drastically — altering her appearance and limiting her mobility.

Farrokh said she sometimes gets backlash for her outward appearance.

“I’ve had some woman at Target walk by and say, ‘I hope you have a disease, looking like that,'” Farrokh said. “But now that I’m in a wheelchair, the looks are more for pity.”

Laura Discipio, a licensed clinical social worker and executive director of the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, said such attitudes are unfortunate because anorexics are suffering from a mental illness.

“Something shifts in their brain … and we are just now working on the resources to really get the research to figure that out,” she said. “Just as you are compelled to go off your diet, they are just compelled to stay on it. Just as you are compelled to eat, they are compelled to restrict. It is a psychiatric, biological illness. It is totally not a choice. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.”

Should she recover, Farrokh plans on continuing to talk about the dangers of anorexia to those who are going down a similar path.

“To be honest, I live moment by moment, day by day, because my odds aren’t very good,” she said. “The recovery process for an anorexic, it’s ridiculous. If you’re going to make it, you’re going to have to get out there. You have to go out and meet life. Go to treatment because it’s not going to come to you.”

The Army’s New Plan To Help Soldiers With PTSD

Taken from Think Progress which is found   HERE.

Even though fewer troops are now going into war zones, Army officials are still struggling to connect soldiers with the appropriate treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder amid a surge in PTSD cases in recent years. However, an impending overhaul of the Army’s mental health care system could help extend immediate, personalized care to those who need it most.

The proposed reforms would bring an influx of mental health specialists to meet the growing demand among soldiers. On-base intensive mental health resources would replace private psychiatric hospitals, and counseling teams would work closely with troops. Doctors who tag along with soldiers in these units regularly meet with commanders to discuss the progress of the people whom they consider to be high-risk cases.

Mental trauma counts among the top issues affecting members of the Armed Forces. Last July, a national survey of more than 2,000 members of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America — which includes members of the Army, Marines, Air Force, and Navy — found that more than 60 percent of respondents said they have been diagnosed with PTSD or traumatic brain injuries. More than 30 percent of respondents also said they have thought about taking their own lives since joining the military.

Now, Army officials want to be more proactive in addressing mental ailments, meeting soldiers in the very environment where anxiety festers. Under the new model, specialists’ offices will be within walking distance of army barracks — which officials say could help soldiers feel more inclined to seek treatment from doctors closely familiar with the environment that’s taking a toll on their psyche. Lt. Col. Phillip Holcombe, chief of behavioral health at Madigan Army Medical Center, located on the Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), told the Seattle Timesthat this embedded health behavioral approach is “very well received by soldiers and commands.”

The upcoming embedded behavioral health program comes on the heels of experimental programming that brought forth 200 programson bases across the country since the start of the conflict in Afghanistan. However, even as two million patients made contact with mental health personnel last year, more than half of soldiers with PTSD still didn’t receive care.

In the aggregate, 70 percent of PTSD patients who follow through with their treatment can recover and maintain healthy relationships, according to army studies. But not everyone follows through. Thanks to the social stigma associated with having a mental illness, some service members who initially connect with a doctor end up dropping out of treatment, saying that such treatment would put them in a bad light with their peers and jeopardize their careers.

Such was the case with Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, now serving a life sentence for the murder of 16 Afghan women and children in 2013. According to Army criminal investigative reports, Bales ignored his wife’s suggestions that he seek mental health treatment before seeing a counselor in 2010 — after his third tour to Iraq — and quitting after three sessions. Medical experts argue that preventative mental health treatment could have proved helpful for Bales, who also struggled with irritability, concentration problems, and low libido after returning from tours of duty.

A clinical study conducted by Army Psychiatrist Tim Hoyt in February touted the benefits of early embed programs, showing that they reduced hospitalizations for psychological problems for soldiers and reduced the number of times that soldiers skipped mental health appointments. Key reasons for those improvements, Hoyt said, involved the rapport that embedded mental health professionals had with soldiers and commanders.

Even with the decline in troops going into Iraq and Afghanistan in the last couple of years, embedded behavioral health programs could prove beneficial to those in combat. Unlike other programs that treat mental illness long after it has manifested, these programs can reduce stress and improve communication in a way that allows commanders to tailor the intensity of assignments to the soldier’s state of mind at that time. “You do the deep dive after a suicide, and the commander just goes ‘If I had just known, I never would have taken him to the field. I never would have put him on this detail.’ But if you don’t know, you don’t know,” Col. Mike Oshiki, a senior doctor assigned to JBLM’s I Corps, told the Seattle Times.

While the mental well being of men and women in uniform has long been a topic of discussion, the issue propelled to national headlines in the wake of CNN investigation of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ cover up of treatment delays that resulted in a significant number of veteran deaths. Lawmakers have since then moved to improve quality and access to mental health care for soldiers, an effort that resulted in the passage of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act in February. In recent months, debate has also sparked about the benefits of medical marijuana for those reeling from PTSD and other mental disorders.

Rebuilding A Life Lost To Mental Illness

Taken from Chicago Now which is found HERE

When we finally found the grave of my husband’s grandmother, Pauline Rose Levey, it was at the end of a long row next to a chain-link fence. I’m sure we were the first and only visitors.


In the Jewish tradition, we left stones on the grave. This is a mitzvah(commandment) called matzevah or setting a stone. It shows that you know the burial site exists and that the person is remembered with something solid.

The first time I shared this story in May of 2014, we were at the start of a journey. Pauline’s life had been destroyed by mental illness and institutionalization. Her absence impacted the lives of her children. But what had happened to them as well as her grandchildren and great grandchildren? Was there a way to make something solid and meaningful from this tragedy?

My husband never knew his grandmother. His father told him she had died, and since his father grew up in an orphanage, it seemed like a plausible explanation. But she didn’t really die until 1966. All those years my husband was growing up, she was buried alive in a mental institution only three hours away, where she died alone.

We learned the truth about Pauline after my husband’s father died in 1972. At that point, my mother-in-law thought it was safe to share the family secret. Abandoned by her husband and left with four young children and no means to support them, she had what was called back then a “nervous breakdown.” Her children were disbursed among relatives, her husband disappeared, and she was institutionalized.

When we first heard this story, my husband and I were young and just starting our own family. So we stored this information in the back of our minds and went on with our lives. But my husband was always haunted by this puzzle on his family tree. As a psychiatrist, he wondered what had happened to her and why this shameful secret destroyed his father’s family.

Ironically, 9 years ago, we found a picture of the family prior to Pauline’s hospitalization. On the back it said, “Indianapolis, Indiana.” Since our daughter and son-in-law had just moved to Indianapolis, it seemed possible that we might be able to unearth more information about Pauline and the mental illness that destroyed her life and separated her children from one another.

After obtaining her hospital records, we learned about Pauline’s tragic life lost to mental illness.


Pauline was born on September 1, 1884 in Russia and came to the United States in 1893 at the age of 9. She had some education in Russia and then attended school in Iowa from ages 10 to 16. She skipped a grade and was said to be a good student. She quit school because her father told her she had to go to work. Pauline was one of ten children.

In 1904 at the age of 20, Pauline moved from Iowa to Indianapolis, Indiana. About 1907, she married a tailor named Ira Levey, who was born in Russia and had come to the United States in 1900.

In 1908, Pauline had her first child, Alice (later known as Billie). By 1910, the family had moved to Chicago where the next child, Marie, was born. In 1913, Bertha (Bertie) came along, and in 1915, my husband’s father, Albert, was born. Ira’s business failed in Chicago, and by 1917 the family had moved back to Indianapolis.

Near the end of 1920, when she was 36 years old, Pauline became mentally ill, and in December of 1920, she was admitted to Fletcher Sanitarium in Indianapolis. At the end of January of 1921, there was an insanity inquest with her husband as the primary witness. She was committed to Central State Hospital in Indianapolis on February 3, 1921 with a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.

At that time, she was described as having dark hair, grayish-brown eyes, standing 4 foot, 11 inches, and weighing 95 pounds. She told the admitting doctor that her husband kept her in rags. One of her sisters said that Ira did not care for Pauline as he should have and that Pauline was too easygoing and too easily dominated. Another woman who knew Pauline when she was first married said she was a lovely woman, attractive and from a good family. She said that Pauline’s husband was extremely cruel to her, and that Pauline had become disturbed because of her difficult home situation and family pressures.

It is not clear what happened to Pauline’s family after her hospitalization. By April of 1921, Ira is listed at a different address in Indianapolis. What became of him after that is still a mystery. Pauline’s three daughters were split up among relatives. Bertie went to live with one of Pauline’s sisters and her husband. By 1930, she was living with her aunt and uncle in University Park, Texas, and she went on to marry and live in Dallas, Texas. It is not clear who took care of Marie and Alice (Billie) when the family broke up. By 1930, both were living in Chicago. Billie lived alone in an apartment hotel, while Marie lived with cousins.

Pauline’s son and my husband’s father, Albert, apparently went to live with his uncle, Max Rose, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at about age 6.  One story is that his uncle was a professional gambler and a bachelor and therefore unable to care for Albert for very long. So Albert was sent to Chicago to live with his Aunt Gerry and grandmother Lena Rose.  When his grandmother became ill, Albert was sent to the Marks Nathan Orphanage in Chicago around the age of 10, where he stayed until he graduated from high school.

As for Pauline, there were not many progress notes from the hospital until near the end of her life. During her 45-year stay there, she had few if any visitors. She worked in the dining room at the hospital.

In 1965 at age 80, Pauline was placed in Borenstein Home for the Jewish Elderly because she was no longer able to climb the stairs to do her job in the dining room of Central State Hospital. Sadly, at the end of her life, Pauline was returned to the mental hospital. All the years of institutionalization had taken their toll and she could not function outside of its walls. She died there on August 17, 1966 and was buried at Bnai Torah Cemetery in Indianapolis.

Last May, we began our quest to find any descendants of Pauline and her siblings to help us learn something solid about this life destroyed by mental illness and institutionalization. In a blog post, I listed names of people we hoped to find. At that point, they were just a bunch of names from a very incomplete family tree. What followed was pretty amazing.

My husband always loved puzzles and reconstructing his father’s family tree was the ultimate challenge. Through a combination of, old census reports, white pages, and good old-fashioned snail mail, he started assembling the puzzle pieces. A cousin whose name he remembered ironically lived near my family in Michigan. Meeting with him led to learning the details of Pauline’s siblings. A name from the 1940 census led to Bertie’s branch of the family. And an email to someone with the same last name as Marie completed her branch. Although they are scattered from the east coast to the west, and from Chicago to the southwest, some of these newly found cousins actually have met, and online connections have been made.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. By completing the puzzle of Pauline’s family tree, we also honored the memory of a life sidetracked and forgotten due to mental illness. As we add more branches to her tree, we also set more stones to remember Pauline Rose Levey.

Dangerous Discernings

A Pharisee.

I wrote this article on July 15th, 2008.  Sadly it is still relevant.  My prayer is that Christians living with mental illness will receive the help they need without the fear of coming forward for the help they need. Allan

As a young Christian I lived in the days when many were looking for the Rapture of the Church.  It was no secret that the year 1981 was seen as the latest that the church would be here by so many people in the Calvary Chapel movement that I was involved in.

There were books, videos, and teaching that taught us to look up, for our redemption was near.  Reading the daily newspaper seemed to indicate that we’d gone about as far as we could go.  The earth was wrought with every type of sin and false religions were rampant.

I recall taking people to church to see movies such as “A Thief In The Night” that drove home the fact that the end was near and you needed to get right with God.  Many folks walked forward to be saved after seeing the movies and hearing the Gospel message.  Those were exciting times.  Little did many of us think we would still be here thirty four years later.  But here we are.

As we look at the news today we see how wrong we were back in the mid to late 70′s when we thought things couldn’t get much worse .  With the advent of the internet and cable television we really don’t need a morning paper as it’s old news by the time it’s delivered to our homes.  I won’t list all of the terrible things that are going on in the world but we now realize how much worse things could and have become.  Many of us are concerned about the world we will be leaving to our children and grandchildren. Things certainly have changed.

As Christians, we aren’t without hope.  We serve the living God and He promises to never leave or forsake us.  He has given His Spirit to indwell us and give us the power to live in this fallen world.  He has left us His Word as a guide to live the Christian life and how others might enter into that life.

Most importantly, He gave us His only begotten Son to fulfill the law, die on the cross, and to rise from the dead in His physical body three days later.  He then ascended to Heaven, where He sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for each of us.  We have a hope beyond this life and it’s real and it’s forever.

We see the beginning of the New Testament church in the book of Acts when God’s Spirit fell upon those in the upper room and we see Peter preach the first sermon where three thousand were added to the church in one day.  What a glorious beginning!

History tells us that glorious beginning wasn’t to last.  Persecution came and Christians were killed in the most heinous ways.  Those saints died with the name of Jesus on their lips.  They would not deny Him.

It wasn’t long before the purity of the Gospel message was being challenged on every front.  Quite often, it was the person of Jesus who was the focal point of these attacks.  He still is to this day.

Every cult and ‘ism that comes along will tell you that Jesus is not God the Son, second person of the Trinity.  They may say He is the son of God, but what they are really saying is He is not God the Son, but something a bit lower.  That will always be a false Jesus.  The majority of people in our world do not believe the Gospel message but choose instead to embrace something different.

Through the centuries God has raised up men and women to defend Biblical truths.  They serve as Watchmen for the church as they discern false teachings and in turn educate the church so we won’t be taken in by a lie.

Some have been raised up to expose error in  today’s church.  That is an important duty as we know that false teachers will and have infiltrated the church. We need to be made aware of this as these false teachers are quite cunning in their deception as they peddle their blasphemous teachings.  God bless those who look out for the spiritual welfare of the church.

Sadly, something has happened along the way when it comes to discerning what is truth and what is error.  That something has been individuals and ministries who have gone too far with their search for that which they deem as false, dangerous, and at times even non-Christian.  As a result, nobody is safe as someone has deemed them or their ministry dangerous.  Many Christians are left wondering what exactly is a safe church or ministry as so many have been ‘exposed’ in one fashion or other.

Some well-meaning people and some who are not so well-meaning in the church have decided to ‘expose’ the myth of Christian counseling and the use of medication to help those in the church who are suffering mentally.  As the number of books and ministries who have deemed the world of mental illness as it relates to the church continues to grow very innocent Christians are stigmatized.  These individuals include Christian counselors, Christian psychiatrists and Christians who suffer with a mental illness.

Christian counselors are painted as taking their cues from godless individuals who had no room for God in their lives.  They supposedly go about telling us we need more self-esteem and to love ourselves more.

They claim sin is never mentioned but these ‘sold out’ counselors find ways to pepper their counseling sessions with a few feel good scripture verses while doing nothing but further damaging their Christian patients. Hurting Christians are seen as cash cows being fed counsel that is not Biblical and therefore powerless to offer anything of value.  They are accused of demeaning the Word of God as they have elevated the ways of man to the same level as the Bible itself.

Christian psychiatrists are seen as passing out mind altering medication like candy to people who don’t need it.  Their vocation has been likened to voodoo and witchcraft creating a population of drug addicts that provide them a lucrative income.  Their clients are seen as victims more than anything else.

It would be unfair not to mention that there are counselors and psychiatrists who advertise themselves as Christian who are guilty of the things that are being used to broad brush ALL Christians who make their living as counselors or psychiatrists.  At the same time it is unfair to think that all Christians who counsel or offer psychiatric services for a living are compromised in any fashion.

Where this really hits home for untold numbers of Christians suffering with mental illness is that their faith in God is now up for speculation and for some, outright judgment.  The fruit of the above is why this blog exists.

We live in a day when science demonstrates that mental illness is a PHYSICAL issue just as cancer or the common flu.  Christians who would never think of calling the faith of a cancer sufferer into question don’t understand the damage they inflict upon the mentally ill when the same love is not extended to them.

Biblical discernment is desperately needed in the church today.  We need to protect each other from the spiritual dangers that lurk around every corner.  The enemy of our souls is deceiving untold millions with his various perversions of Biblical truth.  We need to stand up for the truth of the Gospel no matter the cost.  Nobody wins when the church becomes the target of the church.  God has called us to higher things.

Actor Joe Pantoliano Seeks To Remove Stigma Of Mental Illness

Taken from Minutemam News Center which is found  HERE.

It’s not only about eradicating the stigma of mental illness for Joseph Pantoliano — a.k.a. Joey Pants—but he also demonstrated that sometimes it’s something to laugh about.

“I thought it was being Italian-American,” he told a crowd of close to 200 at the Ridgefield Playhouse. “I didn’t know I was crazy.”

Pantoliano, a familiar face to any movie fan, thanks to his numerous roles spanning decades, has also focused his fame on trying to quell the isolation experienced by those sidelined with mental illness. Drawing on his own struggles with depression, anxiety and related addiction, he leads a nonprofit organization called No Kidding, Me Too! that seeks to remove the stigma attached to “brain dis-ease” and empower those affected to face their condition, seek treatment and start experiencing contentment without having to resort to addictive or self-destructive behaviors.

“You can beat this,” he said, following the screening of a documentary he directed called No Kidding, Me 2! The 2009 film features Pantoliano visiting with a variety of people who have experienced different mental traumas — depression, suicide attempts, addiction, PTSD, schizophrenia and more. Along with capturing their individual stories, the film inspires viewers to recognize that breaking the isolation of mental illness and recognizing the need for treatment is paramount in bringing changes to how it is viewed in society.

“We have to talk about how we feel,” he said. “Everybody has emotional distress. Everybody is going to have a bad moment.”

“I came to discover that there’s a tremendous stigma surrounding any kind of brain disease,” he said in the film. “This is a movie to show you want to do with the pain. Now I know what to do with the pain when it comes … The greatest thing that ever happened to me is finding out that I’m mentally ill.”

Pantoliano, who appeared in such major films as Risky Business, The Matrix, Memento and The Fugitive, as well as being a regular on The Sopranos, explained that his strong to desire to be an actor centered, in large part, on his need to eschew his uncomfortable feelings. “I was born with a small hole in my heart the size of God,” he said. “I used to think that if I can become an actor … I wouldn’t be depressed anymore.”

“It was only when I started to turn successful that I turned to drugs and alcohol,” he said, “because I was treating an undiagnosed pain that I didn’t want to feel.” As often happens with addicts, he tried a variety of substances and behaviors in an effort to assuage the pain “and control anxiety,” but with no great results.

“My first drug of choice was food,” he said, “and I ate to feel better … (Later) I started starving myself the way I ate, and that created a feeling of euphoria.

Pantoliano’s daughters also appeared in the film, sharing their experiences of living with Pantoliano when he was in the throes of his illness, as well as adding some lighter moments to the film.

“When you were depressed you kept buying dogs,” his daughter, Isabella, told him. “That’s why we have so many.”

Pantoliano’s wife, Nancy, who also appeared in the film, was also on hand at the screening, sharing a spouse’s perspective on how his illness affected the household. “We had four cats and four dogs at one time, and then 10 dogs,” he said, thanks to an unplanned canine pregnancy. “He was not allowed to go out and buy food anymore because then he would come back with a dog.”

“I was the wife of a famous actor,” she said. “I had been a model, so I had nothing to complain about.” Yet as her husband’s condition grew worse, she began to feel more isolated and unsure of how to deal with him. “It was a relief when all of this came out,” she said.

The film also featured some brief appearances by familiar names, including Marcia Gay Harden, who remarked on PTSD among American service people as being “a plague … How can we send our men and women into war for whatever reasons, but then not support them on the way home?” she said. “It makes no sense.”

A significant amount of the message surrounding the film dealt with the disparity in funds spent on mental illness, compared to other ailments. “Our brains are not getting the same constitutional parody as our liver, or as our gall bladder, which doesn’t even have a job anymore,” Pantoliano said.

“My need to perform has been diminished by my recovery,” said Pantoliano, who has also authored two books in the last few years — Who’s Sorry Now? and Asylum: Hollywood Tales from My Great Depression: Brain Dis-Ease, Recovery, and Being My Mother’s Son—and actively tours for speaking engagements with No Kidding, Me Too!

Pantoliano writes of his nonprofit, “Our goal is to educate the public about the wonderful possibilities that exist when we break down the social barriers which hold us all back because we treat those afflicted with mental illness differently — we label them and isolate them. What we passionately want to accomplish is to relieve the weight of millions of people who suffer this isolation.”

“Now there are other celebrities — and sometimes the celebrities are the voices that people are going to hear, who are coming out of rehabs and saying it was from depression,” or other mental illnesses,” he said, helping reduce the stigma of brain disease and “dis-ease … It’s going to take some time and the awareness has to keep happening.”


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