Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Genius Claimed By Schizophrenia: Memories Of My Sister

Lisa was as brilliant as she was beautiful . Even as a small child her insight and intuition astounded friends and family alike . Her maturi...
Sunday, December 25, 2011

Poetry : The Mirror

The Mirror She was the best friend I ever had, becasue she didn't leave when things were bad. Thoughout my life, she'd periodic...
Friday, December 23, 2011

Poetry : The Road to Discovery

The Road to Discovery Take baby steps Moving one at a time First step Take your medicines Medicines are antidotes Second step Gain c...
Saturday, December 17, 2011

Poetry : The Crystal Palace (Revisited)

The Crystal Palace (Revisited) I sit alone, on hold, in a narrow hospital room. An interminable wait, during which my panic mounts incr...
Monday, December 5, 2011

Talking to the Wind: My Sister, My Struggle

The light turns red. I stop my car behind the line and wait patiently. There's still plenty of time to get to class. It's then, out ...
Saturday, December 3, 2011

Beyond Soho

I was delighted when New York City Voices publisher Ken Steele invited me to write an article about my experience becoming "New York, N...
Friday, December 2, 2011

On Self-Help Books: Gentle But Powerful Changes

I spent last summer following the program of a wonderful self-help workbook—The Artists’ Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, by Juli...
Thursday, December 1, 2011

Crisis in Albuquerque

The Person-to-Person toll free telephone support program goes beyond the traditional warm line. It gives reminders for all kinds of appointm...

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Genius Claimed By Schizophrenia: Memories Of My Sister

Lisa was as brilliant as she was beautiful. Even as a small child her insight and intuition astounded friends and family alike. Her maturity and intelligence excelled long before the adolescence which brought about the physiological changes which seem to have acted as a catalyst in the onset of the severest form of schizophrenia. Previous to the chemical carnage of unmatched physiological components in her brain, namely the neurotransmitter dopamine and its receptors, she was ahead of her years, her time and certainly ahead of me.

As early as age seven her concentration and comprehension levels amazed me. Although only ten myself and without descriptive vocabulary, I could see this clearly. She would often be charged with explaining to me plot twists in movies we would watch together as kids. And it would be she, the little girl, who would have to comfort me, her older brother, concerning the unreality of scary monster movies.

Lisa and I had an almost symbiotic psychic connection, which transcended our biological kinship. We were spirit-kin, siblings in eternity and this we remain, only temporarily disconnected on the sensory level. We would often say, with perfect simultaneous spontaneity, exactly, word for word, what the other was saying in reaction to a given thing.

Also, whole concepts and emotions were conveyed with a single glance. Sure, we also bickered and carried on as siblings do, but memories of things like the three of us on weekends at our dad’s place in the country, stacked on a snow sled racing down a hill, careening toward a snow bank, the impact of which would result in three snow angels being made to the sound of our uncontrollable laughter, far outweigh those of who spilled the milk or who broke the vase (by the way, it was me mom!).

By the age of only thirteen, she had begun a modeling career despite her lack of the height so sought after in that business; such was the power of her beauty. This she initiated and carried out of her own accord amidst ongoing discussion and concerned warnings from both loving parents about any heartache she may have been setting herself up for. It did not affect her grades in school. In fact, as she entered her teens her grades only ever improved, this in fact also to the point of concern. I’ll explain and as I do I hope I can offer some early warning signs to be ever vigilant for as you observe the life of your young adult family member or friend.

She persevered in her modeling pursuits despite repeated disappointments until she received an offer to appear on the cover of a hair dye product. She gave me of her complimentary boxes, which featured her precious face and unmatched hair, on which she wrote: “Chris, here’s a copy of the realization of a dream. Something you and I will share over and over again.” I was absolutely inspired by my little sister. Absolutely inspired. Among other lessons she taught me about the power of belief and perseverance.

Over the next few years changes would begin to take place in Lisa that would frighten us to the level of panic; among them academic over-achievement. By the age of fifteen, as a sophomore in high school, a time when most kids are much more concerned with dating than with homework, she voluntarily restricted her social life to near non-existence. Her free time was wholly occupied locked in her room immersed in the study of law and physics. Having grown bored with constantly winning mock trials held at her school, she began to wonder whether science was more to her liking than law. Her intelligence was indeed always a point of pride with all of us. However, when she began, on the rare occasion of her emerging from her studious inner sanctum to casually begin to describe in terms I still can’t understand, the principles of Einstein’s General and Special Relativity, along with, in intermittent bursts between sips of soda, as if discussing the weather, a casual explanation of why space and time bend. I began to say “whoa, is there such thing as too much of a good thing?”

  • We all indeed began to worry increasingly as uncommon characteristics and behavior gave way to the unusual and from the unusual to the horrifying.
  • All endeavors or lifestyle changes became a matter of extremes.
  • She began to enter a phase of personal neo-sixties, retro-flowerchild exploration into a period she felt she resonated with during a time when kids her age were immersed in the pop culture of the early eighties.
  • Again, there may be a point of pride in seeing your little sister more into Stephen Stills than Boy George, but ultra extremes are frightening and I urge vigilance against them in any loved one’s behavior.

As the reader may well be aware, the nineteen sixties were a time of experimentation with consciousness expanding, hallucinogenic drugs. In keeping with the established pattern of pushing the envelope, Lisa of course participated in this activity. We do not know to what extent this may have contributed to the onset of schizophrenia, as the pattern had been established as early as puberty. Nor do we know whether LSD was involved or only a then prevalent street derivative called mescaline. Both could indeed have acted as catalysts but it is also possible that neither did. The research in these regards is as yet inconclusive. Of course many schizophrenics have never taken hallucinogenic drugs and many people who show no signs of mental illness have. Regardless, I highly recommend qualified interventions if any over the top excessive lifestyle is observed.

Whereas once we had been concerned over Lisa’s highly sophisticated talk of science, we now were horrified over her ever increasingly bizarre manner of speaking, dress and behavior. She began to show one of the primary symptoms of schizophrenia, a loss of normal cognitive faculties, a lack of contact with reality. Not only these, but her beautiful face by the age of sixteen had become marred by severe and uncontrollable acne, almost certainly as a result of the medications prescribed for her now worsening disease. Things began to come to a head. We knew we had to do something. We were just not sure what. Phenomena which I only recently have come to be familiar with began to manifest in Lisa, namely aural and visual hallucinations; staples of severe psychosis associated with schizophrenia. The panic the family was now experiencing had to be translated to drastic action immediately, especially upon my relating to my mom the following incident which will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Lisa came into my room and sat on my bed for a chat. It had become increasingly uncomfortable to talk with Lisa over the previous months because it had become apparent that there was something very wrong, as her conversations lacked cohesion. Well, the camel’s back was about to give in a big way. My beautiful sister proceeded to explain to me that she was indeed the second coming of Christ. This, I would come to learn is another staple of schizophrenia; delusions of grandeur of a religious nature. My stomach trembled in waves of nervous spasms as I related this to my mother because both mom and I knew, even as the words were leaving my mouth, that institutionalizing Lisa could be avoided no longer.

That was 1985. Since then, ground-breaking milestones have been achieved with antipsychotic medications. Early tertiary intervention coupled with proper diagnosis and treatment can help victims of schizophrenia to live normal lives. This my family urges, because Lisa’s life ended before those medications became available.

Although the State institutions we were forced to place Lisa in provided crude antipsychotic medications in the 1980s like lithium, at least, for the most part, her hallucinations were not as pervasive as before treatments began. However, supervision in these institutions is a disgraceful shame. It is horrifying how easily Lisa was able to separate from her supervision during an outing on October 26, 1987. The abhorrent lack of regard for the mentally ill in this country as is demonstrated so disgustingly by the low level of care these nightmarish carryovers from the days of the sanitariums of the 19th century provide is despicable.

Witnesses at a commuter railroad station stated that Lisa placed herself before an oncoming train. No laughter resulted from this impact. But there was indeed an angel added among the dearly departed, carving her image into the pure light perfection of eternity.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Poetry : The Mirror

The Mirror

She was the best friend I ever had,
becasue she didn't leave when things were bad.

Thoughout my life, she'd periodically appear
Whenever I was afraid, she took away the fear.

Together we laughed, told jokes, and even occasionally cried,
Whenever I went on an emotional rollercoaster, she too took the ride.

Sometimes I couldn't believe in her, when life's ways began to get rough.
But she'd always say together we'll stand, together we are still tough enough.

I owe her my life becasue without her I wouldn't be
She is the reflection in the mirror, THE REFLECTION IS ME...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Poetry : The Road to Discovery

The Road to Discovery

Take baby steps
Moving one at a time
First step
Take your medicines
Medicines are antidotes
Second step
Gain control of your feelings
Become one again
Regain family and friends
Somehow, somewhere down the road
Third step
Trust again
Not an easy step
But vitally important
Fourth step
Keep faith in god
Do what you can
Motivate yourself to do more
Push, push, push
Until all the steps come together
But, the opposite, is even worse
It's lonely, clumsy, and irritable
Not like anything you've ever
Experienced or want to experience
In your life.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Poetry : The Crystal Palace (Revisited)

The Crystal Palace (Revisited)

I sit alone, on hold, in a narrow hospital room.

An interminable wait, during which my panic mounts incrementally, until a tall, young psychiatrist enters, all arms and legs, bent over, attacking the floor as he strides-bulls toward me, chart in hand, scowling ferociously. He does not speak to me. He scans my chart. He lifts his pen from his pocket to take my history. The man does not know my history has already been taken this night.

For an instant, I am back inside the curtained picture-taking booth at Grand Central, hunched forward. The machine whirs as over an infinitesimally small number of seconds it fixes me. Afterward, extracting the strip, startled-puzzled-exultant, I look upon three different me's. Each begging for a history. As, veritably the time-traveling man, I happen every minute, second, millisecond.

"Is it Spring 1977, or Spring 1976?" I ask now, timidly, my voice breaking. At some level I know it is Spring 1978 and that I lost her. That it ended badly for all of us, most of all for me, but I am hearing as well echoes of that earlier spring, the real connectedness, however tentative, and I am overwhelmed with the pain and loss. And with terror.

For this man does not answer me. He continues to scowl. I want to run from him. I begin to sing, loudly, angrily, to the tune of "Red River Valley." But a different set of lyrics that tell of betrayal.

Still the psychiatrist continues to scowl, and now, backing away, he scrawls in the chart. Whereupon, having never spoken a word, he turns and leaves. Whereupon, they come for me, stick me with the needle and lock me in the room for the night.

In the morning, duly mortified, my cheeks puffed, hanging--the Haldol faceover--I sign myself out.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Talking to the Wind: My Sister, My Struggle

The light turns red. I stop my car behind the line and wait patiently. There's still plenty of time to get to class. It's then, out of the corner of my eye, that I think I see her. "Don't turn your head," I tell myself, but I do anyway. It's her.

She's standing on the corner, talking to the wind. She isn't dressed badly, not like the "street people" around her. Her hair is combed and dyed a natural shade of blonde. I let out a breath. At least her appearance is still neat, still normal. But for how long? If the past can foretell the future -- only a few more months. I tell myself that if you just saw her you wouldn't think there was anything wrong with her. It's only the odd things she says or shouts to the people passing by, or to herself, that make strangers pull their children closer. I comfort myself with this lie, this nonsense, and I almost believe it again. Incredible, after ten years of this, I still try to deny my sister's mental illness.

I sink down in my seat, hoping that she won't see me; that she won't call out. I don't want anyone to know she knows me.

"God, why did this happen to me, to my family, to her? And why can't we stop her deterioration? I can't, we can't force her to take her medication. In time, when the paranoia takes over and the hallucinations become constant, the cops will come and take her away; then she'll be hospitalized. Then she'll get the medication she needs. But why, God, does it have to get that bad? It humiliates her. I know it does. I know that someplace inside of her she is aware of all that is happening and it tears at her soul."

"Do you hear me, God, when I pray for her? Sometimes I fear that you're just standing by, watching. But other times, I know you're not. How else could she have come through the dangerous hours and places she's been? But God, it seems like such a waste. So much intelligence. So much creativity. So much willingness to love and be loved-all fragmented and twisted like a madman's art. If I had your power, I would make her illness go away."

The light changes to green. I hit the gas pedal a little harder than usual and speed across the intersection, seeking the safety of the next block and my own life. I put houses and trees between her and me. But it doesn't work; my thoughts are still back there on that corner with my sister.

"I know she's lonely, God. Maybe that's why she's on the street. Maybe she's trying desperately to make a connection with someone, something-trying to stay afloat, hoping that just being with people will give her a tiny hold on reality. Maybe, that's why she phones me so often and everyone else she knows-everyone else who will listen. I wish I could listen more, God. I do listen for a little while. But then, you know, she says those things, those mean, vicious things. She puts her finger in my open wounds. How does she do that? Why do you let her? What good does it serve? I get so mad and say things back. Then she gets angry. Funny, there's nothing delusional about her when she's angry. Does she do that on purpose? Is it another way to stay in touch? Sounds stupid, sound like there should be a better way, but it also sound possible. Human beings are so complex -- not at all like the people on television or in books."

I park the car and get out, slamming the door. "God, I hate her. I hate her because she makes every family gathering so uncomfortable. I hate her because of the vicious things she says. I hate her because...." The concrete at my feet leads to my class and my orderly and safe life, but I can't take that path just yet. I lean against the car and frowning, I bow my head.

"God, I hate her most of all because she shows me up for what I really am -- a phony. I don't love, do I? I trade affection. If people are kind to me I return their kindness. Oh, sometimes I lend them kindness first, but if they don't return it, it's goodbye. It's not supposed to be that way, God, is it? When you said love one another, you meant be committed to their welfare even if they aren't or they can't be committed to ours. My sister can't love me right now. Maybe, someplace inside her, she wants to, but I see that she can't."

I chew my lip as I lift my eyes from the ground to the great buildings of the college campus before me. Then, looking beyond them, I see the immense blue sky. I hesitate, afraid of my next thought, but then decide it is what I want.

"Lord, teach me to love her. Really love her. But Lord, help me to be wise in my loving. Don't let me think I can meet all her needs. They're too vast. Don't let me think that loving her will cure her. Instead let me be humble, satisfied to help in the small ways you show me. And don't let me expect gratitude. Remind me that it's enough to know that I am pleasing you. Lord, let me rest her present and her future in your hands. Help me to believe that all of this is fitting into your plan and when I forget these things, Lord squeeze my hand."

I adjust my books and start off for class. As I walk, I decide that when I get home I'll call my sister. This time I'll reach out for her.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Beyond Soho

I was delighted when New York City Voices publisher Ken Steele invited me to write an article about my experience becoming "New York, New York" eligible to secure affordable housing in a supportive, non-invasive, independent, safe living situation. If readers may learn from my story, which is becoming less unique, something positive would come of a very rough period of my life in addition to my new apartment!

Since August 1994 until this past November, I had lived in a two bedroom walkup apartment in the Little Italy section of Soho. It was and up and coming neighborhood; friendly and convenient and fun. The rent was $1,000 a month and I shared the rent and expenses with a roommate. I was unemployed and my mother could no longer help me pay the rent so I had to give up my apartment and go into "the system" including being in a shelter to become "New York, New York" certified in order to qualify to receive a financial subsidy from the state to help me get an apartment.

From November 5, 1997 to May 21, 1998, I lived in what Urban Pathways, a large, emasculating social service bureaucracy, termed a "transitional residence," called the "Traveler's Hotel." This is after I spent one night on two chairs at the Oliveri Center, a drop-in center for indigent women.

At Traveler's Hotel, a midtown SRO-type shelter, across the street from Port Authority, I found that for certain parties, shelters are not free. I paid approximately 50% of my entitlements each month for services I did not wish to utilize, including but not limited to medication monitoring on Traveler's schedule, not necessarily what the psychiatrist prescribed, to have a very small room with a window overlooking a huge red neon sign for an Odd Job store.

Compared to my former address in Soho, I knew I had hit rock bottom, but both sets of my parents are vehemently opposed to enabling me at home. During my stay with Urban Pathways, I kept rationalizing. "at least I am not on the street."

At Traveler's Hotel, there were three overcooked meals a day, including a weekly special of Oxtails. When they were served, I recalled residents sucking every morscle of meat from the circular bones in the makeshift, cramped day room that also had to serve as our small dining room. There were two bathrooms on each floor, virtually no water pressure, hot water on most occasions, one pay phone for 40 people, and an overabundance of rules, vermin, and attitude.

One glorified janitor working the evening shift smoked in non-designated areas where residents could not and tried unsuccessfully to maintain Gestapo-like order with intelligence not being this person's strong suit. Another worker on the night shift would smoke were it was prohibited and would monopolize the television, which was provided for the residents. There were no social workers after 5:00 or 6:00 p.m., so sick residents went unattended after business hours. Even so, regular "support" staff, including case managers, a "housing" specialist, and social workers were more interested in policy and the Jerry Springer Show than our progress. I received no help finding housing from this agency, yet Urban Pathways documented that they were responsible for my permanent housing placement. The truth is I made all the arrangements to locate my current housing program.

Now, I live alone with two cats in supported housing in the Northeast Bronx with a scattered-site program, Inca Housing. I adore my new working class, friendly, relaxed, multiethnic neighborhood. It is convenient to mass transit, nearby the Bronx Zoo and across the street from Van Courtland Park. Mom no longer has to help with the rent, which is substantially subsidized by the NYS Office of Mental Health. I believe I am the most stable I have ever been.

Friday, December 2, 2011

On Self-Help Books: Gentle But Powerful Changes

I spent last summer following the program of a wonderful self-help workbook—The Artists’ Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, by Julia Cameron. This book had been mentioned to me by several gifted, creative people I know, an expert on color and fashion trends, a painter, a young actor, but I am not an artist. How could I presume to read this book?

Finally, a friend lent it to me. It sat on my desk while I circled it from a distance for some time. Then, on a restless and dissatisfied day, with no good mystery books around to read (and feeling a deep sense of boredom with television), I opened it. For the following twelve weeks—the length of the program—I was totally engrossed, energized and delighted.

The Artists’ Way presents, first of all, a sense of spirituality similar to that in a 12-step program. It is a welcoming, nurturing approach, not a set of rules and the sense that at any moment you will break one and be doomed. It demands no agreement with a particular set of beliefs. The message is that if we believe in a loving universe, believe in our own unique creativity and that of others, and understand that there is enough for all-many things are possible.

The book contains chapters with wonderful names like: "Recovering a Sense of Possibility," "Recovering a Sense of Abundance" and "Recovering a Sense of Strength." They are followed by playful and intriguing tasks. These exercises clear away old pain and resentments, and clarify our true dreams and preferences-paving the way for self-expression.

The word "tools" is emphasized, tools that enable the recovery of self and a flow of creative energy. There is a theme throughout the book of playfulness and joy.

One tool is called ‘the morning pages,’ writing three pages, longhand, when you wake up. What do you write? Anything! You just "show up at the page." Addressing the things that are on your mind, your "inner film" will "render you present" in the day to come. Another tool is the "artist date." You take yourself-your inner artist-somewhere that genuinely pleases you, to fill the well with experiences and images. This can-but need not-involve "hoity-toity" art. You can go to a museum, but you can also buy glitter and glue at a 99 cent store, or browse in a toy shop. Ms. Cameron uses the metaphor of a boat out on the water-in the morning pages you send out an S.O.S. On the artist date you turn on your radio so that you can receive answers!

Ms. Cameron also talks about the need for a "believing mirror" when self-doubt creeps in. When you hear yourself saying "You can’t do that-who do you think you are, anyway?" it is crucial to have a trusted voice saying "Of course you can!"

There are lines and phrases from The Artists’ Way that I have found to give both comfort and courage. "I forgive myself for all failures of timing, nerve, and initiative." The point being that it is hard to move forward if you are filled with regret and anger at yourself. "As we open our creative channel to the creator, many gentle but powerful changes are to be expected." My creativity heals myself and others… my work comes to good."

I write about this book because I had not realized before the power of taking a personal self-help journey. Staking out a pathway, faithfully following it along and enriching one’s life, gives a tremendous sense of independence, of setting one’s own direction, and of personal power.

I used to avoid the self-help sections of libraries and bookstores. I thought it would be like studying calculus or physics. I’d learn about what I should do, but couldn’t do. I was more than surprised. I discovered that a well-chosen self-help book-one that fits at a particular moment of your life, one that has warmth and most especially humor—can teach you how to nurture and cherish the self that you are. It can provide the sun and soil and nourishment to make your personal garden grow and flourish.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Crisis in Albuquerque

The Person-to-Person toll free telephone support program goes beyond the traditional warm line. It gives reminders for all kinds of appointments. Besides my psychiatric appointments, I have had Person-to-Person remind me about dental appointments, appointments for my work and appointments to give testimony about mental health legislation. Person-to-Person balances out the disorientation of my psychiatric condition.

An example of how a Person-to-Person call saved me from a major hospital crisis occurred last summer. I had gone to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill convention held in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1997. I had gone through a medication change just before I had left for the convention. The new medication wasn’t working, I was able to immediately put Person-to-Person to work to help me.

I dialed their toll free 800 number, 1-800-376-8282, several times to reach my doctor, and then he spoke with me directly to get me on a medication that worked. Person-to-Person demonstrated to me their skill and dedication during those difficult days in Albuquerque, calling my doctor and then calling me. They enabled us to brainstorm together to find out what medication would work, and we actually discovered what medication was effective through these phone calls. The conference calls from New Mexico to Massachusetts cost me nothing. Imagine, my doctor and I could talk as long as we wanted, sometimes up to a half hour without any charges. My psychiatric condition was stabilized and I was able to deliver two talks at the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill Convention.

Most people, professionals, consumers, and family members, don’t seem to understand the immense disorientation that comes with schizophrenia. A telephone call can go a long way toward orienting and stabilizing people. The Person-to-Person 800 telephone support line represents a new and important step towards putting telecommunications and all the new technologies to work for us, our family members, psychiatrists and others. I have learned this firsthand.

Mental health care has always placed a lot of emphasis on face-to-face contact. This was alright when we were in fully staffed hospitals and outpatient programs. One visit a month to the doctor and therapist doesn’t provide enough support for most of us. The mental health system needs to recognize that people with psychiatric disabilities need a lot more contact with people. Many of us live far away from psychiatrists, therapists and programs. It is easy for us to isolate ourselves and become confused. A telephone call is one less trip for us to make during the week. We can increase contact through several phone calls. Person-to-Person uses the phone to increase our contact with people. And, this support program is also a great adjunct to assist us to be sure we go to our traditional psychiatric and medical appointments.

Person-to-Person is a free comprehensive support service for mental health consumers and their family members. Counselors are specially trained to connect us and our families to services and resources that can help us meet the challenges of recovering from our illnesses.

I always say mental illness makes it easy to get hurt, easy to get confused and easy to get tired. I have made a lot of mistakes because I have been hurt, confused or tired. I told these things to Larry King this summer when I appeared on CNN’s "Larry King Live" to discuss schizophrenia. The Person-to-Person program cuts through these states of hurt, confusion and tiredness and get me where I’m supposed to go and on time. Person to Person is one more tool to keep me well; to keep me going through the day on schedule. Imagine. When you miss appointments it can only increase your confusion.

Many mental health consumers are also working or going to recovery oriented day programs. Person-to-Person is a reminder to encourage people to get up and out of bed to participate in their programs. One more place to go and one more person to meet can be very difficult for the mental health consumer who has many therapeutic visits, Person-to-Person assists in organizing our day.

I need the once a week therapy visit and the calls from Person-to-Person in between. The therapist visit and the calls from Person-to-Person are not exclusive. We, mental health consumers, need both of them. In fact we often may need several calls from Person-to-Person, our therapist and our doctor. I get these calls and they work for me. I highly recommend this telephone support network to everyone.

Person-to-Person has worked for me and continues to work for me today. This is a practical program. Never underestimate the positive influence and importance of a phone call—and especially one from Person-to-Person, a 7-days-a-week toll free support program developed by Janssen Pharmaceutica, the makers of Risperdal (risperidone). This service, however, is available to help anyone who needs information, referral, and resources, regardless of the what medication they take. Test them out yourself: call 800-376-8282.

(Editor’s Note: See the information below about services provided by Person-to-Person. Moe Armstrong is the Director of Consumer Affairs and Family Affairs for Vinfen Corporation in Massachusetts, a company which provides mental health peer education, support and leadership training. A member of the Presidents Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, he has traveled to the White House, meeting with Mrs. Tipper Gore to discuss mental health disability issues. Armstrong’s experiences as a mental health consumer have been reported on both network television and in major print media. Besides appearing on "Larry King Live," this past July, Armstrong has been featured on ABC National News about his work with support groups. Additionally, he has been the subject of articles in the Boston Globe and the Washington Post. He is a very active member of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill on the local, state, and national levels and he is a member of many of NAMI’s Advisory Boards and Councils.)