Bradley Cooper Speaks Out About Mental Illness

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Bradley Cooper Speaks Out in National Dialogue on Mental Illness

By Bob Carolla, NAMI Director of Media Relations

More than a mere entertainer!

More than a mere entertainer!

Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper, star of Silver Linings Playbook, didn’t know much about mental illness before he made the film.

Since then, the movie has been nominated for five Academy Awards, including every acting category, the first motion picture in over 30 years to earn that distinction. In the process, the movie has become a powerful vehicle for advancing a national dialogue on mental illness (Award winners will be revealed announced on Feb.24).

“I was ignorant,” Cooper said at a press conference on Feb.1, sponsored by the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., in which Andrew Sperling, NAMI’s director of federal advocacy participated.

In the movie, Cooper plays a young man living with bipolar disorder, who has lost his job, his house and his marriage. He is released from a state psychiatric hospital and returns home to live with his parents and begin to rebuild his life. His father, played by Robert DeNiro, lives with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The film reflects family dynamics to which many people can easily relate. Mental disorders seem secondary and gradually fade into the background. Just as one out of every four American adults lives with mental illness in real life, the movie presents symptoms as just one more part of a family’s experience. It does not trivialize them nor make them the butt of jokes in what is nonetheless an often hilarious comedy.

At the press conference, Cooper described the process through which he learned that mental illness is a common thread in many people’s lives.

Discussions about the movie’s plot and characters set the stage. Revelations of personal connections followed. Matthew Quick, the author of the novel on which the film is based, struggles with depression. The movie’s director, David O. Russell, has a son who lives with mental illness.

Cooper learned for the first time that one of his friends lives with bipolar disorder, a fact he had never known before. After ignorance came empathy, he said. The challenge then was to take action.

“The one thing I can do is raise awareness.”

“Don’t walk away from people with mental illness. Don’t be scared.”

U.S. Senator Debbie Stebenow (D-Mich.) who participated in the press conference told of her father’s struggle with bipolar disorder in the 1960s, before lithium was found to be a mood stabilizer. “We didn’t know,” she said. “We didn’t understand.”

“But today we’re at a moment of change.”

“Changing attitudes leads to social change,” said former U.S. Rep Patrick Kennedy (D-Rhode Island), who lives with bipolar disorder. “It doesn’t have to come from government.”

One of the lessons of Silver Lining Playbook is that “the power of family” is a vital force for transformation—a fact that Sperling noted is reflected in NAMI’s Family-to-Family Education program.

Love, acceptance and being embraced by a community are key both to recovery and breaking down barriers of stigma. Looking ahead to the Academy Awards and beyond, let the national dialogue continue.

(source: http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?Section=Top_Story&template=%2FContentManagement%2FContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=150378&lstid=809)

About Ava Elizabeth Wisdom

Greetings Beloved, I am a 41-year old single mother of two boys. I was a stripper for almost a decade and have lived the kind of life that parallels something you'd see in a movie. I not only partied like a rock star, I literally partied with rock stars. I stopped dancing in 2000 and began college when my oldest was 4. Shortly after turning my life back over to the Lord and beginning my academic career at the university, my precious mother, a former Fort Worth Police officer committed suicide. When I found her, she had been dead for 3 days. I did her hair, make-up, got her dressed, and had her nails filled for her viewing and funeral. In spite of my appearance and way with men, I have never been married. Rejection and abandonment have seemed to define me since conception when my biological father deserted my mother as soon as he found out she was carrying me. I am a recovering co-dependent with a heart so big that I have to be cautious so that I don't exhaust myself in focusing on and giving to others. I was a very angry child who grew up in a violent, dysfunctional home so I haven't always loved others from the depths of my heart. However, after the loss of my loved ones, I learned that time is fleeting and that you never know when you're going to see someone for the last time. So now, I am quick to love others and strive to maximize each second that I have with the ones I love. In spite of my sin and my struggles with men, drugs, and alcohol, my faith defines me. I could never deny Christ because at the times of my life when I had everything stripped away I could literally feel Him with me. I love to write and pray that this blog will inspire you and draw you closer to the heart of God. Ava Elizabeth Wisdom

4 responses »

  1. Hello Ava,
    I admire your honesty and openness in your profile you have had an interesting life awith overcoming some adversity.
    Good Luck.
    David.

  2. Hello Ava again,
    You may be interested, I hope to write my own biography soon with the title Simply the Best and the Best is Yet to Come and I hope to do a World tour soon.
    My Twitter is Gemway@GoslingDavid for your info.
    Bye for now and as I said Good Luck in Love,
    Kind regards,
    David

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