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  1. Thank you for this podcast!  I am only on Part 2 and already there has been a lot that I needed to hear.  I especially appreciate the discussion on sexual abuse (Natasha I think it would be awesome if you did an entire podcast on that topic).  I look forward to listening to parts 3-5.  Thanks again!

  2. Almost done with part 3. While I absolutely enjoy (and find very useful) eps like Michael Coe, Daniel Peterson, and others, these types of episodes are what I enjoy the most with Mormon Stories. Sometimes, I just want to hear the stories and experiences rather than the “issues” per se. It is a privilege to be invited into this family’s life, hear about their experiences, and learn more about mental illness – these things are happening to many people and a lot of us probably aren’t very aware – on a societal level, probably, but maybe not as much on the personal/ward level. Nice work.

  3. Really incredible stuff. A big thanks to the family for being able to open up like that. As someone who has family members who at the very least have some psychological issues, this gave me a lot to ponder, and hopefully apply.

  4. I’m just getting started, but already the mother’s discussion about considering herself “active” even though by institutional standards she would be considered “inactive” really struck me. Although I generally struggle with the strict orthodoxy of Mormonism, the terms “active” and “inactive” really highlight the Mormon emphasis on orthopraxy and institutional loyalty. I mean, it’s right there. Based on this standard leadership-endorsed vocabulary, the most foundational characteristic of a good latter-day saint is their attendance. Doesn’t leave much room for believers who do not embrace the fellowship of the saints.

    I think from a historical perspective the modern religious movements have generally been confessional and focused on personal beliefs while the religions of antiquity were mostly concerned with one’s behavior. Compare, for example, Judaism to Calvinism. Because Mormonism is a restoration of the old it strives to bend to the demands of both orthopraxy and orthodoxy. Is one ever more important than the other in Mormonism?

    One more thing. I just have to say I love the mother’s phrase “Don’t blue sky me, God!” Why have I never heard that before?

  5. I only listened to the first hour of Mormon Families dealing with mental illness. It was not titled appropriately. There was maybe a few minutes spent on ANY mental illness issues and the rest was surviving breast cancer. While this story was stowic and showed much courage – it was not at all about fighting the pain and trials of mental illness. I was really quite surprised by the title and, to be honest, offended.

    Maybe the other hours of these interviews are different but I am not motivated to listen to them. The true nature of “mental illness” was not even touched on in the first hour.

    1. To Jacob Brown:
      To: Jacob Brown

      God never “blue skies” anyone. You have been around, what is indigenous to Utah, too much. Faith is never an automatic “yes” to a prayer when times get tough. If you can’t count on the Lord to be honest with you -who is left? My advice is to step out of the Mormon pop-culture and use the actual church doctrine and Christ Himself, to stake our faith in.

      The most common mistake us Mormons’ make? Is to judge our “insides” against others “outsides”. Stories like we have heard here happen far more frequently than we realize.

      ie., My stalwart mother was denied a recommend by a Skate President who was later found dead in a gay bar. It is through a personal relationship with the Savior that gets you through a trial like this!

      1. I just thought the phrase was a colorful expression of how someone might feel as they wrestle with a seemingly distant deity.

        Utah is beautiful, but I have never lived there. I have been there a few times. Actually, I grew up in what was called in the old days the Williamson Settlement in Southeast Texas. William Williamson was converted by a young missionary Elder Joseph Brooks in the late 1890s. It is kinda unique because the tiny Texas town of 12,000 or so has 3 or 4 wards. I think this is mostly unheard of outside the normal Mormon territory. I wouldn’t say we have our own brand of Mormonism, but it definitely isn’t Utah. 🙂

    2. It was not titled appropriately.

      Actually it is titled appropriately. It’s titled perfectly.

      There was maybe a few minutes spent on ANY mental illness issues and the rest was surviving breast cancer. While this story was stowic and showed much courage – it was not at all about fighting the pain and trials of mental illness. I was really quite surprised by the title and, to be honest, offended.

      :: rolls eyes ::
      Well, no one is going to try to persuade you to listen to the rest but this is a bit like a protestant getting mad at an LDS first discussion because God is the focus instead of Christ. BTW, you have more comments on this thread than anyone else, but you’re the only person who hasn’t listened past the first episode. But whatevs.

  6. To Collings2 

     I understand your frustration with the first hour and the focus on breast cancer. I don’t believe that was the intention. Perhaps Natasha wasn’t aware of it when the conversation started. I believe she did know the impact it could have on depression and mental health and pursued it for that reason. 

    Your decision not to listen to anymore of the interview is certainly one you get to make for yourself.  I can only tell you that if you go on, you will find there is much dialogue about mental health, diagnoses, treatments, and the devastation it can have on individuals and loved ones. The title being not quite right does not negate the information. I, for one, am glad I followed it through. Differences in people is what makes the world go round. 

    1. I will add that in my experience, a significant trauma often precedes onset of mental illness….so the breast cancer is certainly not irrelevant, in my view.

      1. John, are you forgetting this sister had a suicide attempt long before the onset of her cancer diagnosis? This sister, unlike many who suffer with mental illness, managed to throw herself into her kis activities, church callings, etc.. Serious mental issues tend to be paralyzing — leaving one unable to function adequately.

        Even though I haven’t heard the following parts, one must suspect that there were significant traumas preceding the cancer. With or without “mental illness” the news of a terminal illness would cause depression in pretty much everyone…

        For those of you who have heard all the parts of this series, which part actually addresses mental illness and Mormon families?

        1. This sister, unlike many who suffer with mental illness, managed to throw herself into her kis activities, church callings, etc.. Serious mental issues tend to be paralyzing — leaving one unable to function adequately.

          Umm, what? Certainly some people react to mental issues with paralyzing fear, anxiety, and complete lethargy, perhaps even the majority. But there are high functioning mental illness patients who actually manage to do a lot of incredible things in conjunction with their illness (e.g. John Nash). It isn’t necessarily an indicator of the “seriousness” of their mental illness.

          For those of you who have heard all the parts of this series, which part actually addresses mental illness and Mormon families?

          In the typical MormonStories fashion, this is a story. It’s not that easy to pick out a single part and say “behold, this is the part that deals with mental illness and Mormon families.” The first episode was primarily a setup for other parts to come. I’m not sure what you’re looking for here, but I get the feeling that you will be disappointed no matter what comes later as you seem to have already set up an idea of what you expect. I highly highly doubt there are many other Mormon families in the world who have dealt with more mental illness than mine (certainly others have different forms, and have dealt with AS MUCH mental illness, but my mother has lived with it all of her 60 years of life, and as her son I’ve lived with it all of mine. Also, don’t read into this statement more than I’ve written. I’m not claiming my life’s been harder than everyone else’s.)

          The main thrust of the interview from my point of view is the reconciliation between myself and my mother after many horrible years during which I judged her harshly with what I felt were Gospel truths. These stereotypes and opinions were corroborated by others in the ward and friends I have. Overcoming this mentality, and the ensuing love that developed once I let go of those ideas are the messages I wanted to convey.

          1. Wow JMB,

            To keep in style with your counting abilities — you, JMB, now have the highest word count on this thread. But as you said so succinctly in your previous post, “whatevs”.

            I’m a bit younger than your mother with six adult children and four grandchildren. Since you seem to realize you don’t have a corner the market when it comes to pain, you may try to steer clear of preconceived ideas of what I expect from these stories or any other subject.

            Checking your attitude at the door may prove to be helpful.

            C2

          2. I’m confused C2 – why the reactivity? JMB bears his soul to the listeners here and you’re asking him to check his attitude? It’s a pretty vulnerable thing to open up like this. Go easy. Let this story soften you. Looks past the edges and into hearts.

          3. Shenpaawarrior,

            Apparently JMB has posted here prior to his specific quoted attacks on my 2 posts. That was the only context I had to his heartfelt posting. From what you have said in your post, I am missing some kind of privileged background.

            I have had more than anyone’s fair share of ECT and so many combinations of medications that I now have stage lll kidney failure along with beginning heart failure and a cancer diognosis. I guess my direct link to strength to God is severely lacking in comparison to the rest of you.

            My only point was that the title of Mormon families dealing with mental illness was misleading — so far as part one. It is rather ironic since Utah, according the dot gov stats, is 51st in the nation in it’s capabilities to deal with mental illness — actually ranking in after American Samoa. That alone, speaks volumes about how the LDS people acknowledge mental illness even being anything more than “it’s just all in your mind – pull yourself out of it”. All in all, it’s not considered a medical condition.

            You’re right though — I should have let it go. I was expecting too much…

          4. Bless your heart C2, I am missing this privileged background as well because I don’t understand your reactivity from the context here. My “privileged” background is that I listened to the podcast. That stinks you were disappointed, and I agree with you on how big of an issue it is. I’m so sorry for offending you – who said anything about having a direct link to God that you didn’t have? Are you upset and have little room for compassion because you have suffered so much (much much more than many it sounds like)?

          5. To keep in style with your counting abilities — you, JMB, now have the highest word count on this thread. But as you said so succinctly in your previous post, “whatevs”.

            Ouch dude. Not sure why you’re reacting like this. You came on this thread claiming to be offended, calling the title inaccurate after having listened to one episode (hardly enough to justify any judgment at all). The reason I called you out is because your initial reaction is just silly. I’m sorry, again, not wanting to offend but the title perfectly and succinctly describes the podcast in it’s entirety. I don’t know what else to say. It’s like saying “The Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ” is a bad title because it starts with a story about Lehi and Nephi.

            Since you seem to realize you don’t have a corner the market when it comes to pain, you may try to steer clear of preconceived ideas of what I expect from these stories or any other subject.

            I don’t know what you expect. But you wrote “Maybe the other hours of these interviews are different but I am not motivated to listen to them.” I hardly think it a stretch, or judgmental, for me to conclude you will likely not get what you expect out of them. Nevertheless, I’m sorry if I offended you. 

            I feel bad this thread is now devolved into squabbling and has taken away from the message. I think this story has great potential to help people who both struggle with mental illness themselves as well as family members (members of the church or not) who live with those who struggle.

            And Collings2 the “backstory” as it were, is no more complicated than the fact that I’m the son in the podcast. I thought that was obvious since Natasha announced it, but maybe it isn’t. Hopefully you’ll be willing to give it another chance as I do think it will be valuable for you. But do as you feel you should.

          6. JMB,

            I’m sorry for your loss. As you know, in the first segment, you barely spoke. I only caught that there were two “J’s” in your mother’s story. I’m sure your life has been horrific. I know, despite my best efforts, my kid’s lives have been. I try to tell them that no one can offer them a clean gene pool and why bad things happen to good people. It doesn’t help much when the memories come crashing through at each new melt-down.

            Some of my family basically writes me off and pray they don’t get it or pass it along to their own children. The drama is simply too much for them to be around me.

            I appreciate you explaining who you are so I had more context to draw on. I wish I could have offered more to my kids but my “best” is often seen as my “worst”.

            Perhaps it would help others if each segment had a sub-title – much like the Book of Mormon is divided by author and chapters.

        2. Are you saying that being able to call upon incredible internal strength in order to be an integral part of her family and hold  responsible church callings    equals     no “real mental health” issues? If that is your conclusion, I must say you are incredibly naive as well as judgmental.

          You stated to John that she “had a suicide attempt before her cancer and that you suspected there were significant traumas preceding the cancer.”  I guess this is something you will never know as you seem determined not to hear the whole story. In fact, earlier traumas are discussed. The kinds of traumas that many will not talk about privately let alone acknowledge openly to the world. 

          People do not go to psych hospitals (multiple times) for vacations nor do they have ECT for fun!!  It seems you want some sort of justification for this family story to warrant a podcast yet refuse to venture further to see what it might be. It is a conundrum to me. Why make such an issue of your unwillingness to be what…perhaps wrong? If it were me and I didn’t “get” it, I would just move on.  Again I say, differences in people and perspectives makes the world an interesting place.

          This story is one of courage, imbalance, incredible honesty, great pain physically, mentally, and emotionally, and more.  It is the kind of story that can and has literally torn families apart, never to reconcile. What rises above all else is the love and commitment they had to be brutally honest with each other, accept what was and had been, forgive and determine to go forward in the healthiest of ways. 

          It is good to hear you will not be finishing the series as I don’t believe you will find what you are looking for.

          1. I am sorry to hear of your health situation. It is a tough thing to accept and move through.

            Your comment “that alone, speaks volumes about how the LDS people acknowledge mental illness even being anything more than “it’s just all in your mind – pull yourself out of it”. All in all, it’s not considered a medical condition.”

            This too was addressed in the following segments. A good friend suggested to the mom, “You know what to do. Just pray and ask God to take it from you.”  Her reply was good and applicable to all who are struggling with health issues, whether physical or mental.

            I have not heard anybody declare a direct link to God. I have heard those who have expressed gratitude for those who are willing to talk about tough topics. I am sorry that this was not helpful for you. We all need hope and that is hard to have when one is seriously depressed. 

            My hope for you is that you find the information that will be helpful to you.

          2. Thank you Bradley.

            I have gone as far with treatments that are available. The exact words from my docs were, “We are out of bullets to treat you”. What they probably meant was that the only thing that would help now WAS a bullet!

            As my Bishop assured me two days before Christmas, 2010, (2 weeks after my mother passed away) was that my mind was just like his. That my condition was no different than that of a pornographer or a masturbator – I only faced a temptation to be weak. He recommended I go for run. Obviously he must have thought that rides in ambulances, meds, hospitals, and ECT were all just vacation as well.

            I have relationships ripped apart never to be repaired. Family lost, kids that barely speak to me, etc.. My job on earth is over and my mission here fulfilled. It’s just waiting it out now…

            It’s not an exclusive train of thought for LDS, however, the perfectionism of the Mormon culture heaps insult to injury, even with their best intentions.

          3. Not to assume, but it sounds like you have much to say and not many who listen. 

             I have walked paths that are similar to yours. I will not say the same as yours, for no two situations are ever the same.  I had those who told me to bake cookies, take meals to others, etc.   Really!?   I wanted to scream. This is not about baking or cooking. If it were,  I would have no problems for I have done that to the nth degree.  Similar to “go for a run?”

            The things that “truthordare” and “jmb275” were saying can apply to you… PLEASE  listen while I restate. Truthordare said “this was a story that can and has torn families apart, never to reconcile.”  That sounds close to what you said about “relationships ripped apart never to be repaired. Family lost, kids that barely speak to me, etc.”

            jmb275 said,   “I think this story has great potential to help people who both struggle with mental illness themselves as well as family members (members of the church or not) who live with those who struggle. He also said, “the “backstory” as it were, is no more complicated than the fact that I’m the son in the podcast.”  Try to “feel” the courage it took for him to put aside his fears and talk about “his life” while growing up.

             Again, I ask you to listen with heart, not head. These kinds of stories are NEVER easy for those involved to tell. It opens up old wounds and can sometimes create new issues to deal with. From my experience, not many are willing to openly talk about such sensitive events in their lives, inviting others in, while knowing the possibility of more pain or ridicule. I can almost promise you that this was not done without great forethought. Can intentions really be so pure as to truly want to help others who might be near the end of coping?  I believe they can. 

            As jmb275 said,  THIS was the story mother and son wanted to tell. It is possible to repair relationships. It is possible to have immense compassion and love for one another after much pain. It is possible to be brutally honest with each other, yet still love. It was stated several times that their relationship took years to rebuild and it was worth the price.

            Please be open to all possibilities. You never know when family dynamics might shift and hearts might change.

             

          4. Thank everyone who’s added their thoughts to what started as simply pointing the misleading nature of the lead in and titling of this series. Thank you for the rolling eyes and condescending projections by some as well as caring thoughts of others.

            I’m signing off the thread to the relief of many here. I’m quite confident that I have sufficient rape stories as a child and and abuse stories and treatment stories to conclude that I can empathize with all of you.

            I am thrilled for this remarkable family who, against all odds, have come to peace.

            Yet, I have clearly let down even people who have suffered through similar things that I have endured. How much worse could I do???????????????????????

          5. C2 – never mind my previous posts about reactivity. You’ve explained it well now.

            Back to some of the earlier comments – any bishop in 2010 that says depression is like pornography is off his rocker. That’s almost unbelievable that someone would say that. I was also surprised in the podcast about people saying “just ask God to take it from you” – sure, ask God to take it from you, but the assumption that he’ll do just thay? Just because one asked? I guess when you have had all the experiences that jmb and his mother have had, strange ideas other people have come out of the woodwork. 🙂

  7. It is sad that the comments became so convoluted and distracting. The solution was simple. If this podcast was not a good fit for you, shut it off and move on.  It really is that simple.

  8. Well I very much appreciated the discussion. I find it very hard to relate to those with mental illness sometimes, having been lucky enough to never  have gone through anything. I can sympathize, but nothing in my experience allows me to empathize. Open, raw discussions like these allow people like me to get insight into the kind of struggles those around me deal with. Again, thank you for your honesty, I’m sure it wasn’t easy.

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I’m really glad you enjoyed it. It took a lot of effort to get to the point where we could discuss the issues so openly. Hopefully people benefit from it.

  9. Thanks for being willing to openly discuss such sensitive and personal topics.  My mom dealt with severe depression, and eventually died of cancer.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that I ever had a real appreciation of what she was going through while she was alive.  She strongly believed that she could get better through an exercise of faith, and in some ways she did.  But overall, I think that she dealt with a lot of guilt for not being able to be healed.  I remember (with shame) quoting the scripture about Christ’s way being easy, and his yoke light.  It seemed to me that if it wasn’t easy and light then you couldn’t be doing it right.  I wish that I could apologize to her today.  I was an idiot (and still often am).  On a positive note, listening to this podcast helped me realize practical ways that I can improve other relationships with siblings that also suffer from mental illness.  Your examples are inspiring!

    One question for JMB275.   You mentioned that it wasn’t your changing worldview and re-evaluation of the church church that precipitated the change in your relationship with your mother.  I’m wondering if it’s possible that the process of developing empathy for your mother’s illness led  (or at least paved the way for ) you to reconsider your world view?

    Thanks again for a meaningful Mormon Story!

    1. The question you asked JMB showed good insight and led to a different way of viewing his change. Thank You.

      Best of luck with improving relationships with your siblings. I believe your efforts will be worth the price. Be patient with yourself as well as them.

  10. Thank you so much. This is my story! My mother’s story, and that of my first born son. omg. So much pain. But I heard you, Jay, when you professed your love for your mother. Thank you. I know her love for you, of which we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. This one is my favorite podcast. Well done Natasha. I took tons of notes on all five sections. This picture reminds me of ‘my’ beautiful boy. I sent this podcast to my estranged mother. I actually thought I was hearing the exact sound of her voice and my brother, Jay. My mother has the same poised, dignified voice, full of the spirit. Highly functional even if she is ..suffering.

  11. Excellent podcast! I was a little disappointed in Natasha’s ability to keep them from exposing their real names and even more disappointed that the editing didn’t catch that.

  12. Thank you so much, all of you who participated.  My husband had borderline personality disorder.  I wish so much he had lived to hear this podcast

  13. I want to express my profound gratitude for the candid treatment of this topic.  It has greatly affected my life and that of my family.  Would either of the people interviewed be willing to comment on the effect the mother’s mental illness had on the marriage relationship between the husband and his mentally ill wife?  I would love to know how you and your husband dealt with the inevitable problems mental illness introduces into the marital relationship.

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