Thursday, February 11 , 2016, 3:44 pm | Fair 75º

Letter to the Editor: Let’s Not Be Afraid to Talk About Mental Illness

By Orla O'Doherty |

After six days of intense treatment, trial and error, tests and counseling, I was discharged from the psychiatric unit in Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

Today, I feel alive again. A week ago, I was in a pit of despair, not understanding why my mind went from racing thoughts to complete numbness in a matter of hours.

The treatment I received in the hospital was extraordinary, the doctors and nurses exceptional, even the janitorial staff made me smile each day. I had visitors and get well wishes from all over the world, each reaching out to me in the hopes that they could understand just a little better what mental illness is.

My name is Orla O’Doherty, and I have bipolar disorder. I live a full life, work as a squash instructor and teacher to disadvantaged youth. I have a family and close friends. I live in a beautiful place. If it weren’t for my health insurance, I would not be making these statements.

Mental illness is a serious affliction that needs to be addressed and taken care of so that I’m not just one of the lucky ones. We are everywhere. We are your dad, your mom, your sister, your brother, your neighbor, you teacher, your bartender, your best friend.

If you know someone with a mental disorder, please love them as best as you can. Love and affection helped get me through the last week, as well as a whole new set of medication that seems to be working wonderfully.

Let’s spread the word about mental illness and not be afraid to talk about it anymore. Thank you all for your thoughts, comments and messages. They meant more to me than you know, particularly while I was alone in that hospital room late at night.

I’m better, and I hope to stay this way for a long time.

Orla O’Doherty
Santa Barbara

» on 01.08.13 @ 10:47 AM

Thank you for finding the strength and generosity to write this. I’m reminded that breast cancer used to be an under-the-table subject. With letters like yours, we can bring mental illness into public discussion and awareness. Best wishes to you and thank you for sharing.

» on 01.08.13 @ 08:22 PM

THANK YOU for writing this.BEAUTIFUL!!! My son is bipolar and it hurts me when we go out or he is ordering food and I see the gestures and rudeness of some people. YES, giving our love and support helps them get through the day. I take a day at a time with him, because I do not know what tomorrow may hold. We do not have tomorrow pro mist and I agree we should encourage and be there.And many times he was hospitalized and he was treated very well! It would be nice if there was a place like we once had here in S.B. where they could come in and get help! Not having to wait for weeks and months to get seen, or the question asked ” do you want to hurt yourself or others”! If so to one of those questions then maybe help would apply! Sad! There needs to be more help for those who do not have an advocate! I am happy you are doing well! :)Reminds me yes, they are everywhere…I was at the hospital visiting someone and I saw a lady talking to herself and laughing, and making faces; I told my friend next to me she is bipolar & to my surprise when she got up she had a name badge on, she was a doctor. Wonderful, when people could live normal lives when treated.

» on 01.08.13 @ 10:18 PM

It’s great to see that you are doing well after your hospitalization.

Although there are many who criticize the pharmaceutical companies for their high prices, people forget they also make some groundbreaking drugs that help millions of people. I hope the new healthcare law and the many changes in the system which are coming don’t impede these companies from continuing to develop these great drugs.

» on 02.03.13 @ 06:00 AM

God Bless you Orla and all those who have supported you.  Pharmaceutical treatment may be advantageous to a particular individual depending on their genetic makeup, but there is, however, a very ugly side to pharmaceuticals.
  In the efforts of a(ny) particular pharm corp. to manufacture their product, microbiologists that have worked in their labs have misteriously turned up dead. Apparently, they spoke out on something that was against coorporate protocol. This can be directly attributed to the fact that after their disapperances research on a particular drug progressed forward, whereas, had the lab worker been allowed to continue to be employed, that person would have been a serious hindrance to profits. The microbiologists knew something that was not good in the research process. They knew something was terribly wrong and that the outcomes would not be good. 
  So now, we have young individuals, after being medicated on popular antidepressant drugs and other control drugs that get extremely confused and go on shooting sprees such as the Sandy Hook Elemntary shooting.  The people responsible for the deaths of the microbilogists and hence, the shooting victims, should be hunted down and charged or eliminated from society as they have done others. Society cannot progress in this manner.
May justice be served.

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