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October, 2007

The NAMI Blog

Joey Pants: “We All Have Something to Give”

Joe Pantoliano
 Joe Pantoliano at the 2007 NAMI National Convention
Actor Joe Pantoliano, who chased down Tom Cruise in the movie “Risky Business” and won an Emmy for his role in “The Sopranos” is the current celebrity blogger on the NAMI Blog.

Commentary and reflections are provided on the blog by NAMI's executive director, Mike Fitzpatrick, and periodic guest contributors. To date, they have included Steve Case, co-founder of AOL and chairman of Revolution Health, and children’s author Dia Calhoun. Future guests will include actress Anna Pearce (Patty Duke) and Bev Cobain, cousin of the late singer Kurt Cobain.

"Blog" stands for "Web log" in which commentaries are posted on Web sites like diary entries, but appearing in reverse chronological order. They provide a running dialogue, in which readers are able to post their own comments. Worldwide, blogs are an increasingly important part of building communities through electronic "social media" networks.

Pantoliano’s blog entry talks about how making the movie CANVAS was for him a transformative experience. It caused him to realize that for years he had struggled with clinical depression, and that his mother probably had lived with undiagnosed, untreated bipolar disorder.

“Canvas” was released this past month in Chicago, New York, Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, and Phoenix, doing well enough at the box offices that runs were extended into second weeks. Credit is due to the many NAMI supporters who bought tickets and turned out to see the movie in those cities.

NAMI BlogBut what seemed most important to people who posted comments on the NAMI blog was that “Joey Pants” had disclosed his personal experience with mental illness and declared: "Let's not be ashamed. We’re all part of the same human family. We all have talent. We all have something to give."

"It is wonderful to know that it doesn't matter who you are, famous or not, in knowing that one can share a bond, a common link, in having a mental illness," posted Jessica, who lives with bipolar disorder. "Thank you for this article. It instills in me that no one is better than others."

"Thank you, Joe, for putting a 'famous' familiar face to the stigma of mental illness,” said Suzanne, WA. “I am on Social Security disability; but I 'work' at mystery shopping and take surveys for cash over the Internet. I am as much a 'productive' member of society as anybody else.

"I just take my prescribed medications and see my therapist twice a month, and I can function as a 'normal' person. In fact, if you were to meet me, you'd never know I was mentally ill."

Journalist Tom Davis, who writes the regular column "Coping" for the The Record of Bergen County (New Jersey) and maintains his own blog about life, family, and mental health, also noted that "putting a familiar face on mental illness" helps break stigma and "legitimizes" the cause of people living with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other illnesses who too often aren’t taken seriously.

Pantoliano has formed the "No Kidding, Me Too" Coalition as a vehicle for people in the entertainment industry to support the fight against stigma. "One in five Americans are affected by mental illness. It shouldn’t be a deep, dark family secret," he wrote on the NAMI Blog.

"When one person tells someone else about mental illness and its effect on them or their family, the response often surprises them," writes Pantoliano.

"No kidding, me too."

We all have something to give. Share your comments on the NAMI Blog.

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