It’s an all too familiar scenario: you have a mental illness or addiction issues. You try your best to get better. You want to share your story because it’s part of who you are. Only, your family wishes you wouldn’t. You’ll embarrass us, they say. This should not be discussed, they say.
I’ve had these issues with people in my own family. So many of us have. As it turns out, families with fame and money are not immune to this. Case in point: Patrick Kennedy, former U.S. Congressman and son of the late Ted Kennedy. He has a new book where he tells all about his problems with addiction and mental illness. Many in his family are, to put it mildly, less than pleased.
I haven’t read Patrick’s book, and lord knows I’m not a Kennedy, so I’ll never know for sure what really went down. But I believe Patrick. I believe him because I’ve seen time and again where a family’s refusal to validate experiences like this are more often a form of denial. They want to keep it under wraps because they don’t want to deal with these issues.
As a liberal Democrat living in Massachusetts, I’ve always admired the Kennedys. I still do. But if some aren’t happy with Patrick’s account, well that’s just tough. For too long, those of us living with mental illness have been conditioned to keep our mouths shut. Well, more and more, we’re refusing to shut up.
So I say, rock on, Patrick Kennedy. By sharing your experiences, you are helping others. As for your famous family, something tells me they’ll come around. If they don’t, it’s their loss.