Graphic novels have emerged from the field of medical humanities as a powerful medium for telling stories — particularly stories of mental illness. Ellen Forney and David B. are two recent, best-selling graphic novelists who write about their experiences with mental illness and have broken ground for many new artists to carve their place in the mental health graphic novel genre. Clem and Olivier Martini, brothers and authors of The Unravelling, also deserve recognition as graphic novel trailblazers. The Unravelling is the second book that touches on their family’s experience with Olivier’s diagnosis of schizophrenia. However, this book also centres on their mother, Catherine — Olivier’s caretaker and roommate — who is rapidly losing her independence and cognitive abilities at age 89. It is a personal and emotional account of caregiving, as well as an angry lament of the state of Canada’s healthcare system for the mentally ill and ageing. ...continue reading →
Sarah Tulk is an Ontario physician who recently finished her residency training in family medicine at McMaster University
“If only he had chosen a higher floor, we wouldn’t have had to come here!”
These were the words that came out of my preceptor’s mouth. I was a wide-eyed medical student, shadowing in orthopedic surgery. The patient was an older man who had sustained multiple fractures after attempting to end his life by jumping from an apartment building balcony. The trauma ward was full, so he was, inconveniently, located on a distant ward which meant his poor choice of departure level was now encroaching on our operating room time. In medical school, I learned that mental illness was shameful before I learned how to use a stethoscope. ...continue reading →
Earlier this year I took my 13 year old son out to lunch to talk about mental health. It just happened that Son #2 and my husband were out for the day and I had a rare opportunity to be alone with Son #1. I didn’t say ‘I’m going to take you out to lunch so that we can talk about mental health.’ I just reckoned that the odds of him listening to me would be higher if a) we were somewhere removed from the all-consuming ‘call of the PS4’, and b) there was a favorite food to both fill his mouth and free his hands from electronic device. So out to eat we went.
I had no idea how to have the conversation I wanted to have. I can tell you that figuring out how to talk him through the gaps left by school sex ed was easy by comparison.
Richard Doan is a Psychiatrist with Inner City Health Associates and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario
On December 19, the Globe and Mail reported developments in the case of an unprovoked stabbing death of a vibrant young woman in a downtown Toronto drugstore by an also-young, and unknown, female assailant. As it turns out, the alleged assailant, though well-dressed and well-educated, was homeless and living on the street. It also appears that she was likely seriously mentally ill.
This story, as sad as it is, is naturally of interest to me, a psychiatrist who works with a street outreach team serving people who are homeless in Toronto. I never met the alleged assailant, but I wish I had. Then again, it is not certain that any involvement or intervention by our team would have made a difference.
The Globe and Mail reported that the alleged perpetrator habitually wore “an immaculate black suit and dress shirt” and had an MBA ...continue reading →
I was 16 years old when Sadness and Joy first went AWOL in my brain for a protracted period. I was an angry, scared, self-loathing teenager. Typical, many might say, but the anger and fear ran deeper and longer than my teenaged psyche could endure. I started taking anti-depressants when I was in university, and I have alternated between diagnoses of anxiety and depression for much of my adult life. I am fighting hard to keep the black dogs at bay. Finally, at the age of 36, I feel like I am making some head way.
Inside Outbrings to life five of the small voices in our heads, each of which represents a universal emotion: Happiness, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger. (Surprise is absent.) We learn how these five emotions interact with each other in 11-year-old Riley’s head to keep her safe, drive her passions, connect with others and form her personality. ...continue reading →