Stories That Must Be Told

Inside these pages, you will meet 20 people who are living with mental illness. Be prepared to recognize yourself. Expect to meet someone just like a person you love. Through the stories that follow, you will reach new levels of empathy and understanding for the full range of human experience.

With exceptionally beautiful prose, the writers who have contributed their stories to Show Me All Your Scars bring us inside their daily lives with unprecedented intimacy and clarity. Their stories—and yours—must be told.

For far too long, silence, shame, and stigma has surrounded mental illness in this country. Everything in our culture has told us to clam up and suck it up.

The only way for this to change is for people to share their truth. Total honesty is essential not only for recovery, but also for changing societal attitudes and enacting public policies.

We are transforming how we talk about mental illness in this country. We are moving away from seeing mental illness as a personal or moral failing. We are moving toward a more useful and forward-looking discussion about proper diagnosis and care.

In these pages, you will find hope. With appropriate diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring, up to 80 percent of people with mental illness improve, according to the World Health Organization. It is possible for people, even with serious mental illnesses, to create lives they love, ones of contribution and connection.     

It is time for us to stand together and demand an end to discrimination against people with mental illness. Many people do not realize that they have a right to care and treatment. My father, Senator Ted Kennedy, and I were the primary sponsors of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush. The Parity Act requires insurance companies to cover illnesses in the brain, like bipolar disorder or alcoholism, on par with diseases in the body, like cancer and heart disease. It has been a slow start, and we have much work left to do, but the Parity Act is beginning to get implemented and recognized as the law of the land.   

In speaking out, we find each other. We are not simply breaking free from fear and isolation, as important as that is. We are building a national movement to press insurers, employers, doctors, policymakers, and all segments of society to help every person get the support and care they need.

Show Me All Your Scars is being published in an election year. It is incumbent on all of us to ask the candidates for detailed and actionable plans for improving diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of brain diseases. Once in office, we must hold elected officials accountable for enforcing the laws that can save the lives of our brothers and sisters struggling with mental illness.

Most important of all, we must avoid passing on the stigma surrounding mental illness or addiction to next generation. As parents, we have a duty to create a world where our children’s mental health and emotional life is as important as their physical health and academic achievements. Reading these stories and recognizing our common humanity is an important first step.

From SHOW ME ALL YOUR SCARS: True Stories of Living with Mental Illness. 
To read the rest of the collection, purchase the book.