Far be it from me –

Judith Haire talks to Melisande Randall, autobiographical writer, from El Segundo, California

on June 13, 2012

I’ve been talking to fellow Chipmunka author Melisande Randall about her new book  Under The Invisible Umbrella

I asked Melisande, “What motivated you to search for or create resources related to having a parent with mental illness?”

Melisande: “For years, I had been writing about my experiences with my mother in order to work out my anger. I was in counseling for years and still go to therapy from time to time. After tossing nearly all my childhood journals for fear of their discovery, I wanted to write a book for a long time but always feared it would be viewed as DISRESPECTFUL to my mom and family. To speak negatively about my mom was always taboo, forbidden. Then, after she was diagnosed five years ago, it validated my feelings that nothing we went through in our childhood was imagined nor blown out of proportion. My mom was indeed a mood disordered parent. I felt I could share my experiences on Facebook while I wrote in order to validate my experiences and gain courage. I also wanted to have a voice to explain to people in my past, why it was I was always such an “odd” bird. My mom had raised a broken child who was simply reacting to her broken home.”

I asked  “What were your steps in creating resources that led you to use of the Internet and social media?”

Melisande:  “There were no steps really. I created my group “Adult Children of Parents with Schizoaffectifve and Other Mood Disorders” on Facebook and found other similar group also related to mental illness.  These groups were created by survivors, researchers, family members, advocates, etc and it was amazing to see how many people used this forum to share resources and living accounts and experiences. I went around to various groups and read their posts. Then I invited others from these groups to join my group. I ran into caregivers, professionals, survivors, and sufferers, many of whom became individual friends outside of the group. As people visited my site and shared resources, experiences and vented about “rough days”, the group took on meaning on its own.  Many of us counsel each other and help each other with words of encouragement and suggested readings and therapies that may help.”

I asked,  “What resources have you created?”

Melisande  “I wrote a short autobiographical piece to get through my anger and am now working on a more open and positive book which is a series of letters I began writing while training for the Los Angeles and Long Beach Marathons which I walked and completed. I dedicated each mile to a special someone in my life and it helped me work through things as I used the marathon and my training to REFLECT on how much I had to overcome with the help of friends, therapists, pets, and God of course.”

I am also featured on Crooked House nm which is a documentary style format on Youtube.com where myself and several others talk openly about our childhoods growing up and under a parent with a mental illness.  Crooked House is also a Facebook group and from there, you can find out how to read the blogs of its members on the Crooked House website http://thecrookedhouse.org/. 

Finally, although I have not created this resource, I learned about the Third Annual International Worldwide Congress on Children Living with a Parent with Mental Illness which took place in Vancouver, BC, Canada early this past May.  A group of colleagues from Facebook attended this conference and we met as a panel to discuss how social media has assisted in survivors finding one another and sharing stories.  Now hopefully, researchers and policy workers can utilize family experiences to steer intervention.  It was a very eye opening conference and I would ask that everyone keep a watch out for this yearly conference and try to attend.  Many academic/political presenters themselves were sons and daughters of the mentally ill and it is nice to hear from researchers and politicians who actually have first hand knowledge of such experiences in the home.”

Q: What has been the result of this effort?

The result has been my first REAL publication on Chipmunkapublishing.com…http://www.chipmunkapublishing.com .the mental health and well being resource based in London. They published my rough piece and edited it. Although short and introspective, it has given me a springboard to advertise our cause, those of us who overcame obstacles associated with mental illness in the home. 





UNDER THE INVISIBLE UMBRELLA:  Surviving My Mother’s Mental Illness, Chipmunkapublishing


I am on Twitter @Melisandewrites. Would love to hear from others on this topic and more!




One response to “Judith Haire talks to Melisande Randall, autobiographical writer, from El Segundo, California

  1. I am on Twitter @Melisandewrites. Would love to hear from others on this topic and more!


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