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Strong Thinking Skills and Self-Care Saved My Dad from Mental Illness


One of my most treasured keepsakes from my father is a letter he wrote me from the hospital. I was six or seven, and in his letter of just a few sweet sentences he told me that he would be away for a while and that it was up to me, his oldest son, to look after my mother and younger brother. He did not seem sick to me and I could not understand why he had to go away at a time when I was struggling with the nearly impossible-to-learn skills of long division and how to catch and throw a baseball.

Several years later, as a fifteen year-old completely baffled by the much more bewildering tasks of how to talk to girls and read my own emotions, my mother explained that the place where my father stayed for a month or so those years before was a mental hospital. Many years after that, my father revealed that he had been diagnosed with what was then called manic depression.

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Jay Boll, Editor in Chief www.rtor.org

4 thoughts on “Strong Thinking Skills and Self-Care Saved My Dad from Mental Illness

  1. Gene says:

    Linda read this to me as soon as you wrote it. It is wonderful. Congratulations on the Huffington Post.

  2. Lindsay says:

    Mr. Boll,
    What a great article. I could not agree more. I suffer from OCD, as did my father. Unfortunately, my dad could not except his diagnosis (he was also BiPolar but I believe his OCD was what truly stole his well-being) and would not commit to therapy. I watched him spiral downward and felt helpless to save him. Sadly, he took his life in 2014. In his honor, I have done what he couldn’t do. I have committed to therapy and self-care. You are right, recovery is real. I only wish my dad could have believed it.
    Thanks for all you do in helping to end the stigma of mental illness.

  3. Denise Vestuti, Resource Specialist says:

    Jay, you wrote a beautiful piece. I am so thrilled for you that it’s published on the Huffington Post. Many readers will benefit enormously from your deeply moving article.

  4. Jay Boll, Editor in Chief says:

    Thank you, Gene, Lindsay and Denise, for commenting. This piece is deeply personal and it means a lot to me to read your comments.

    Lindsay, my father also lost his father to suicide. Although he struggled with his own mental health at times, perhaps seeing what happened to his father made him stronger in a way. I wish the same for you and thank you for sharing.

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