Friday, March 18, 2011

All in the Mind - A boy talks to his father . . . candidly.

Very cool episode of All in the Mind . . . . When a parent has a mental illness, even something as seemingly ordinary as depression, it can really impact the children. This piece is revealing in how that works, from the son's point of view about his father.

This is from Natasha Mitchell's blog about the show. Info on the show itself and the links are blow this entry.

Lifting the lid: a boy talks to his father. Candidly. Very. Listen...


This is Cameron. He's 16.

He lives in a Maine in the USA with his dad, mum, sister & brother.

He plays a mean Metallica riff on the guitar.

And, I would venture to add, he's wise & kind beyond his years.

At the end of last year I happened to hear a short, beautiful radio piece recorded by Michael Bernstein back in 2007. Sit with Me featured a then 12 year old Cameron and his father Bob in a conversation we rarely, if ever, hear.

Cameron was interviewing his dad about depression. Bob knows about the Black Dog. He's lived with it for nearly 40 years, and wrestled with it to his core. In a heartbreaking series of questions, Cameron seeks to understand what the experience feels like for his father, and what he can do to help.

In just 7 minutes, his first radio piece, what Mike captured with Bob and Cameron was very special.

This was a conversation 'in the moment', and hearing it left me wanting to understand more about Bob's experience & history, and to see how they were all faring 4 years on - I hoped they were doing okay, and I will admit, as a distant listener, I was worried for them. Growing up with a parent with a mental illness can make you grow up all too fast. I wondered too if their story might benefit others who face the same challenges in their relationships and homes.

When I made contact with Mike late last year to ask if I could broadcast his original piece and if he might consider heading back to Maine to reconnect with the family, he was keen to. 4 years on, he too had been left with the same questions and concerns after making the story as novice radio journalist. As a documentary maker, you find that all stories stay with you, but some stories really stay with you.

So Mike went back last month for All in the Mind, and, what he discovered about Bob's past was ....well, staggering.

People place trust in us as we hold a microphone up to their lives. I never take that role for granted, and I'm always grateful and appreciative when people invest that trust to treat their story with respect and care. My thanks to Cameron and his family for sharing the intimate details of their lives - a heard experience is a shared experience - and thanks to Mike Bernstein for taking us to Maine.

This is a story that is both ordinary and extraordinary all it once. A billion different versions of it are being played out in people's homes right across the world. You might relate to it. Let's talk about it.

After hearing the show, I hope you can join a conversation over on the All in the Mind website, where there are a few photos too. You might have your own experiences to share, your reflections on growing up with a parent with a mental illness, or navigating your own role as a parent when you have depression...

* * * * * *

Sit with Me: an anatomy of depression

Bob (back row, second from left) grew up in a family with 8 other siblings. He was especially close to his younger brother Bobby, who died from an accidental overdose.

Sit With Me: An anatomy of depression
View the image gallery

Growing up with a depressed parent takes its toll, reframing how you look at the world as a child. In 2007, Mike Bernstein recorded a moving dialogue between 12-year-old Cameron and his father, Bob. Four years later Mike returns, to discover a staggering story in Bob's past. A rare insight into the anatomy of depression.

Show Transcript


Cameron's father, Annette's son

Bob's son

Bob's mother

Michael Bernstein
Radio journalist & producer
New York

Further Information

Lifeline Australia
The 24 hour telephone line for Lifeline Australia is 131114

All in the Mind's Audioboo channel
Audioboo is an audio blogging site. You can record and upload your own "audioboos" using your phone or the web. All in the Mind is experimenting with Audioboo to invite your responses and stories to program themes. Share your own stories too!

Beyondblue: the national depression initiative (Australia)

SANE Australia
National mental health information service & charity. SANE Helpline, 1800 18 SANE (7263) 9-5 weekdays EST (Australia)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) - USA

How to use Audioboo to talk to us! Speak your mind - more information on what to do

All in the Mind blog with Natasha Mitchell
Often features blog exclusive extra audio from interview material not broadcast.

Third Coast Audio Festival
Featured Michael's original 2007 documentary, Sit With Me, in their compilation, RE:SOUND.

Children Of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI)
Provides information for family members across Australia where a parent has a mental illness and for people who care for and work with them.

Invisible Children - When Mummy or Daddy Has the Sad Sickness
All in the Mind, broadcast 25 May 2003.

In the Family - A Journey through Madness
All in the Mind, broadcast 16 September 2006.


Natasha Mitchell

No comments: