Book Club

Replay: Live Chat with Sherman Alexie

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Poet and writer Sherman Alexie joined us for a live chat on April 16, 2013, to answer readers’ questions about his poetry and books, his creative process and being Native American. You can replay the chat below.

Sherman Alexie (Credit: Alton Christensen)

Born on a reservation in Washington state, Alexie has been navigating the boundaries in American and Native American culture for two decades. He is the author of 22 books, including The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, winner of the 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, War Dances, winner of the 2010 PEN Faulkner Award, and The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, a PEN Hemingway Special Citation winner. Smoke Signals, the film he wrote and co-produced, won the Audience Award and Filmmakers’ Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival.

Watch Bill’s conversation with Alexie from this week’s Moyers & Company, including his thoughts on Native American cultural power and experiences with bipolar disorder. In a web extra, Alexie also reads and talks about his poem “Ode to Gray.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/carl.landsness Carl Landsness

    Wow… very sobering… touching many deep issues I’ve grappled with and suffered through in recent years… and this week.
    Do you believe in karma and past lives…
    and if so…
    might it be possible that persecutors and persecuted change places from life to life…
    as determined by karma?

  • Claire

    In what ways, do you think, has the internet changed life on Indian reservations?

  • http://www.facebook.com/taylor.gregg.50 Taylor Gregg

    Sherman Alexie- You seem refreshingly honest about being in the middle; that you are a member of your own tribe, whereas most would claim both cultures. Camus (estrange) was our forefather… When did you come to understand your native roots had been destroyed or was it always in your conscience ?

  • http://twitter.com/mcjourney20 Lauranne Bailey

    Thank for your words and all I have learned from you over the years. I recently saw the documentary Red Cry which showed much of what I’ve known has occured on Pine Ridge since the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890, and it offered the words of suffering by those still living there. And we know of Ojibwe grandmother Josephine Mandamin walking for the sanctity of our water, with native women following in her footsteps to bring awareness to the Mississippi…and the IdleNoMore folks in relation to the keystone pipeline. Here in Wisconsin, we have tribes exercising their sovereignty to hopefully fend off open pit mining. As the corporations feebly attempt to hide their colonialist crowns, how do you continue to make sense of all this taking? If one can find sacredness in each moment, despite the poverty, the suffering, the injustices strewn about, is that enough to simply live? It seems so important amidst all this chaos, that metaphor can often be the only available breakthrough. Perhaps this is more a thank you, than a question.

  • Robbie

    WOW!!! Need I say more!?!?! How I admire one Mr. Alexie on a number of levels. Wow.

  • Doug

    I would like to say a quick Thank You for your sharing. I am adopted and grew up in Cleveburg (Cleveland) Ohio. I am a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, and never feeling like I was an Indian since I grew up so far from the rez and was not immersed in the culture, and being a mixed blood it was a lonely place . You talked about getting away from that tribal mentality resisting it and being an individual, Thank You, in my 48 years that was the first time I felt like yeah I am an Indian. I really enjoyed watching and listening and yes I can say that I agree with your views on the Sacred. and I would endorse the music of the Who as sacred. Thank You again and was wondering if you like the poetry and music of John Trudell?

  • Sandy

    While i was listening to Sherman describe how the Indians were systematically killed and/or driven into reservations by the European settlers in North America, (other tactics having been used in the rest of the Americas), I was thinking about the direct parallel with what Israel has done and is still doing to the Palestinians. So, even though I am old enough (70) to have been deeply troubled by Hitler’s genocidal treatment of the Jewish (Catholic, Polish, Gypsy, and politically left) people of Europe, i was startled when Bill asked Sherman if he identified with Jewish Americans. It is as Sherman said about Lincoln; there are paradoxes and complexities, some of them tragic, in individual humans. And states will do the unforgivable in the name of power and gain.

  • Anonymous

    I am very interested in this writer’s personal story. These stories are all so different. My dad suffered from bi-polar illness in the 50ies and there was only” the talking cure” available or many stays in psychiatric hospitals. He was a physician himself, often not able to work for months in his practice and as a teenager I observed him struggle with his illness. He finally took his own life, sadly, as he was a wonderful father in spite of his illness. I applaud anyone who copes with it in any form. Thanks, Bill Moyer!

  • NLF

    Mr. alexie,
    for 30 years since I came to this country from a third-world colonial country and not knowing that America was a slave country and that all the atrocities that were commited by the white government, to all minorities, were pushed under the rug. Why, is there nobody, demanding for not only an apology, but payment from this same government that brags about its constitution. From the time Andrew Jackson grabbed the land of the Cherokees and made them walk the Trail of Tears, why hasn’t nobody demanded a Tax for the Cherokee people on the lands that was grabbed by that unjust law.

  • ogimakwe

    Bozhoo, Mr. Alexie,

    I watched your recent interview on Moyers & Company, and it struck a chord. I am also a first-generation “immigrant,” and have navigated, clumsily at times, both worlds. Because of colonization, assimilation, and the growing “brain drain” from reservations, I would be interested to hear your thoughts on what our Tribes will look like in the year 3000. I have visions of blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Tribal council people, and it both saddens and scares me, not because I am prejudiced, but because I walked, when I was younger, in the old ways. They have rapidly disappeared, and I no longer see the dark brown faces nor hear our language as often when I go home.

  • ogimakwe

    ps: perhaps the year 3000 is a bit extreme. how about the year 2075?

  • truegangsteroflove

    I heard Sherman Alexie on a radio interview a while back, where he referred to “white” people doing Native spiritual practices as an ultimate form of colonialization, or some such. I am one of those people. I agree that there are some hilarious extremes, like a guy I saw at a holistic studies center (Omega) wearing a breastplate choker – looked totally silly, was from Brooklyn.

    Doing sweatlodges on a reservation (Rosebud), pipe ceremony (the real thing, given by a Native chief), and various shamanic practices from worldwide traditions are not things I ever did idly. It was always for the moment and for the result. I “played Indian” as a kid, but as an adult have followed an (East) Indian guru, gone on firewalks, meditated with Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama, did a medicine wheel ceremony with Sun Bear in Hawaii, kundalini yoga with Yogi Bhajan in New Mexico, and chanted Sanskrit mantras in India. This was all after leaving Catholicism, a faith taken up by many Native Americans because of the intrusion of missionaries. They also converted my ancestors in Ireland, who had their own practices.

    So you can look at it however you want, hoping to define subjective reality as objective reality. Russell Means called “white” people who do Native practices as the final thieves. I really liked him, and understand his anger, but theft is when you take something from someone and they don’t have it any more. I haven’t done any Native practices in years, but they were very helpful, and I might again. A sweatlodge now would probably kill me.

    The best way to look at any spiritual practice is that it is something that was discovered by someone with deep intuition. These practices come from deep within, not from some exclusive group. They are done for the practice and for the result. I think it can safely be said that individuals and society are made better by spiritual practice. Anyone who would hoard practices that can heal and enhance people’s lives likely has an ego-agenda, and also likely doesn’t do those practices him or herself. This would tend to go hand-in-hand with not knowing what one is talking about.

    Other than this concern, I enjoy Sherman Alexie’s intelligence and humor.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sean.a.murphy.545 Sean Adam Murphy

    Please ask Mr. Alexi, “Why do you so often refer to people who give birth at home as “privileged? Why is homebirthing a bad choice?

  • Snowflake Flower

    Sherman, I watched you for an hour. Can I rent you for a day ? a week ? a lifetime ? I want you to enter my mind and open a window. Can you let your honesty and brilliancy shine in ? I would like to get your perspective on, well, everything. How to address you? Your Radiance ? Your Brightness ? I have a question for the chat: What should people do with their time once automation and robotics eliminate the need for human workers?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamie.gillam1 Jamie Gillam

    In your interview you said that writing hasn’t been therapeutic for you. Please tell us what has been your motivation to write? Has this changed over time?

  • http://www.facebook.com/tina.m.willis1 Tina M.Willis

    I was caught completely off guard by your interview! I am Yankton Sioux raised in small town middle America. I was adopted and loved by a white couple who gave me a wonderful life. And yet I live conflicted by the two cultures. Why? Being Native is such a strong surge,it comes and roars in my ears even when I try to deny it. History is so confusing to me. I never cheer at the right times. Columbus? Booo! Custer? Yeay!! Thanksgiving? Mistake. Makes me unpopular with both sides. What do You Think about the land that Wounded Knee is on being sold? I can’t make my circle of friends see why it’s so horrendous. They built a monument on the 2011 site. They put signs up all along the Lincoln Highway They honor 100 year old houses. Why can’t they see that this too should be preserved?

  • Pat Eisenberg

    Dear Mr. Alexie, years ago in Tucson you said although you’d be pleased if people bought your book, you would prefer we take the money we would spend on your book and donate it to the American Indian College Fund. Would you still make that comment today? How do you think the fund, and tribal colleges, are doing these days? I am thinking of the Tohono O’odham and Dine colleges in Arizona, and Northwest Indian College in Bellingham, as well as the better known colleges like Sinte Gleska University. Thank you for all your writings which I buy, read and reread, and give away. Pat Eisenberg, Tucson eispat@gmail.com

  • http://twitter.com/TarryFaster Terry Sneller

    “The tolerance to alcohol is not equally distributed throughout the world’s population, and genetics of alcohol dehydrogenase indicate resistance has arisen independently in different ethnic groups.[2] People of European descent on average have a high alcohol tolerance and are less likely to develop alcoholism compared to Aboriginal Australians, and Native Americans.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_tolerance

  • Sophia Zimmer

    What to say that hasn’t been said before! This was by far one of the best Bill Moyers shows ever!

    My question is, and this comes from somebody who as mexicana, understands being colonized in quite profound ways. At what point do we stop collectively accepting the colonizers’ shadow. When and how do we reclaim our full humanity with its complex array of good and bad traits, and let the colonizer confront its evil without us being colonized yet again through projections. This question comes from years and years of trying to analyze “The Satanic Verses,” and your dialogue with Bill Moyers brings me hope that perhaps somebody else has wrestled with this question as well.

    Thanks for reminding us of what it is to be human.

  • Fanta

    Just watched Bill with Alexie on PBS and Sherman’s direct confrontation with the truth about our presidents especially Lincoln and the massacre in Minnesota. Seldom do I encounter someone who looks so straight into the Darkness and tells us what he and others have experienced

    . Was sad to learn that Alexie says he is bipolar and is taking medication I assume from Big Pharma?? and affecting perhaps that brain that tells those stories we need to hear and retell to others. Thank you Bill for having him on and hope you have Sherman on again soon. Will definitely read your poetry Sherman.

  • Mike

    Will “Reservation Blues” be made into a film in the near future?

  • Matthew McClain

    Other commenters give well-deserved accolades to both poet and interviewer. I hope the topic of gaming on reservations is included in the next dialogue because of its significant and expanding impact on both Native and non-Native people. Thank you.

  • Rick

    Great to hear you express yourself …it’s a gift that “keeps on giving”. I’m a white American, which is I guess considered “lucky” but it can also leave one feeling vacant…The funny thing is my maternal ancestors are Norwegian one generation removed..I feel a pull to that culture, like a star trekkian tractor beam..I’ve come to wishing I could just go and be with my people there…I feel misplaced in this selfish, violent USA…Just wondering if you’ve met others out there with oceans separating them from their place..

  • http://www.facebook.com/steven.locurto Steven LoCurto

    I am tribeless. If I could choose I would be Native American.. My spirit is akin to indigenous peoples. I am white, but I would sooner be a tree in the middle of a forest, before taking any pride from that random fact. As I listened to your ancient tone, I imagined the “words of steel” from your native tongue and what poetry they would speak Your eyes are the eyes of your ancestors and you are adorned in the headress of a proud people, whether you grow your hair long or not, you are keeping the drums beating….,as one heart of the Native American people.

  • Norma

    So refreshing to hear Mr Alexie speak his truth without fear of public censure. Even as a small child (7 or 8) I was told that I was stupid when, after a “patriotic” film in school, I asked why it was propaganda when the Russians told their people how to think but not when we were told what to think.

  • Drew Northup

    Does Mr. Alexie have any comment about the fact that all Native Americans (or First Nations’ peoples) are still technically wards of the state (war prisoners) under standing Federal law?

  • Angela

    This was a very profound and eye-opening interview for me, a brown sister listening to my brown brother. Thank you for hosting Sherman, for asking the questions; and for answering honestly. You, Dear Sherman, are a brilliant star, shining amongst us all. Paz y amor ~

  • Sybil

    Curious if you’ve ever read any poetry by “Red Hawk”. His name is Robert Moore and he is a professor of English at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. He writes from the perspective of a Sioux Warrior but he’s a white guy. Dr. Moore is a compelling storyteller and his poetry has convinced me he has the soul of an Indian. Is he just a good writer or do you think poetry wells up from somewhere deep in the psyche beyond race, culture or time?

  • Lesley-Ann

    I really enjoyed the interview, extremely insightful and intelligent. There are are a lot of deep thoughtful questions below, so I thought I’d ask a whimsical one. Have you read or watched Game Of Thrones? If so, who do you identify with? Are you a lion, stag, wolf or dragon?

  • Thomas Frank

    Mr. Sherman would you comment on the cultural significance of the 400 year old Iroquois Nation; Two Way Wampum Belts depiction of Indigenous and Immigrants, as residents on the same land ? Thomas Frank says thanks a lot

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.ziegler.58 Jeff Ziegler

    Question for Sherman Alexi- You mentioned a few times on Sunday that 911 had an impact on you. What was it about 911 and how did it affect you?

  • http://www.facebook.com/ann.allison.948 Ann Allison

    This is my question to Sherman Alexie. Would you consider writing a book directed at young people who have been diagnsed with bipolar disorder. You have become a successful poet and managed to overcome difficulties relating to this terrible mental illness. I am asking this because our own daughter took her life only three months after being diagnosed. She was brillliant, a poet and artistic. She was hospitalized twice, and the conventional treatmnet apparently broke her spirit and she didn’t want to go on and couldn’t handle the depression, Thanks so much,. Ann McGarity

  • Pedro

    Mr. Alexie, in your interview with Bill, you stated that you question everything and tell the truth and that people don’t like that. It struck me that this was precisely the dilemma faced by Socrates. I wonder if you thought of that?

  • Dona

    I don’t think tribalism led to 9-11. If anything, feudalism did. Journalists have been mistaking one for the other ever since 9-11. Most of the tribal peoples of the world have been governed by, or at least impacted by, feudal states for centuries so it can be difficult to tell what is what, That is why Margaret Mead had to go popping in on isolated tribes to see what true tribalism was. The American Colonists had a passionate, idealistic, violent revolution against European Feudalism. Then they did all kinds of things that were sometimes feudal to other peoples. I have only ever personally known American Indian kids from other states whom I played with in our inner city neighborhood. So I have no idea what elements of tribalism, feudalism, Democracy, etc., exist on reservations.

  • John Dupes

    I saw the tail end of the Sherman Alexie interview and I wanted to ask a couple of questions for Tuesday, April 16th. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Alexie’s The Lone Ranger book several years ago. I became more interested in Native American issues after reading Jim Harrison’s novels. Is Mr. Alexie familiar with Harrison’s work? Who does Mr. Alexie consider to be his literary influences? Thank you. John Dupes, Grosse Pointe, MI.

  • Dona

    No! No! No! “Vacant” is when people make a big deal about being connected to another country because they believe they will be given money or the equivalent for being born something. Too often they do get given money or the equivalent for being born something. This, of course, is selfish and does make other people feel left out just because they didn’t make a big deal out of their background. So everybody does it, nobody has any pride, and it has gotten to be like “Queen For a Day” on a lot of college campuses. It is pathetic that people who are fair minded and productive are made to feel so alienated in so many places in this country. Not a very good situation for people who are already alienated, is it?

  • J

    Maybe missed the window to pose a question for tomorrows Live Chat — but just in case! I suspect Sherman Alexie can understand procrastination.

    I’ve heard you speak for years of your experiences living in both worlds of Indian and White communities. And I’m wondering; do you see any changes in either community, ANY positive moves from either group towards understanding or equality? What are they and how can we further them? What would you get behind that both groups could get behind too?

    Been a fan since one of your early readings in the basement of Elliott Bay Books, with 40 or so other folks. Your ability to lay-the-truth-bare is astonishing. I applaud you.

  • Rainadustbowlstory

    My question to Mr. Alexie: How can a writer feel confident that although his or her poetry may not be in the style some academics prefer, it is still the real thing?

  • Farid

    I enjoyed the interview with Sherman very much. the sincerity of his utterance and language gave a sense of authenticity; as the audience, we all connected at some level, and became participants. In the spirit of trans-continental celebration of each other and and redemption, I will share with Sherman the Persian poet Hafez story about justice

    http://muftah.org/reflections-on-obamas-nowruz-address-as-hafez-rolls-over-in-his-grave/

    best

  • David “Lincoln”

    If you, Sherman Alexie, had been President of the United States, instead of Abraham Lincoln, at the time of the war crimes convictions and sentences to death of 303 Sioux men, what would have been your response in detail.?

    President Lincoln ordered General Pope to “forward, as soon as possible, the full and complete record of these convictions” and to prepare “a careful statement.” As President Lincoln and two Interior Department lawyers scrutinized the record of the trials, they discovered that some had lasted only fifteen minutes, that hearsay evidence had been admitted, that due process had been ignored, and that counsel had not been provided the defendants.

    President Lincoln authorized the execution of only 37 of the 303 condemned men (35 were found guilty of murder and 2 were convicted of rape). Lincoln explained his reasoning: “Anxious not to act with so much clemency as to encourage another outbreak on one hand, nor with so much severity as to be real cruelty on the other, I caused a careful examination of the records of the trials to be made, in view of first ordering the execution of such as had been proved guilty of violating females.” He further sought to discriminate between those involved in massacres and those involved only in battles. At the last minute before the executions, President Lincoln pardoned Round Wind, who had helped some whites to escape.

    On December 26, 1862, the convicted rapists and killers died on the gallows while a peaceful crowd of more than 5,000 looked on. In 1864, Minnesota Governor Ramsey told President Lincoln that if he had executed all 303 Indians, he would have won more backing for his reelection bid. “I could not afford to hang men for votes,” came the reply.

    In 1864, Lincoln pardoned two dozen of the 264 Sioux who, after being spared the death penalty, had been incarcerated. The same year, he intervened to spare the life of Pocatello, chief of a Shoshoni band in Utah.

    In response to Episcopal Bishop Henry Whipple, who lobbied the president to reform the corrupt Indian agency system, Lincoln pledged that “if we get through this war, and if I live, this Indian system shall be reformed.” In his December, 1862 annual message to Congress, President Lincoln urged that Congress change the system.

    (Source of abbreviated information: “Abraham Lincoln, A Life” Volume II, pages 480-84, by Professor Michael Burlingame, 2008).

  • http://twitter.com/GillEunHye Dorothy Gillmeister

    Does it crystallize a moment of your heart’s reality? If so, it is the real thing. Whether it is a diamond that will last forever, or a shard of ice that will soon melt, it is the real thing. If reading it moves someone else’s heart in tune with your own, it is the real thing. If you are the only person that can hear it, but it shakes your spirit when you read it again, it is still the real thing.

  • Anonymous

    I am here waiting for the live chat with Sherman Aleie

  • Alan

    This question relates to a statement that Sherman made on the broadcast about not subscribing to conventional religious beliefs. When Bill asked what he believed in, Sherman replied, “Stories.” I wonder whether Sherman might elaborate on that statement. After all, one can assert that conventional religious beliefs are founded on nothing less than successful stories, which are so successful that many believe them quite literally–and this is not passing judgment on their validity or truth either way.

    Respectfully, then, Sherman, what stories do you believe in? Are they stories from your native culture that have resonance and relevance as well as broad appeal? What makes a good story–one that is good enough for you to believe in it, if belief is meant to be taken as acting on the presumed truth of the story? Are such stories believable to you because of their cultural resonance, their universality, or both? Most directly then, Sherman, as a writer and Native American poet, is it stories you believe in, or is it storytelling (mythmaking, history, or constructing personal narratives) that you find most meaningful and why? Thank you very much for considering this set of questions, and best regards.

  • Ann Lydekker

    Dear Mr. Moyers and Mr. Alexie:
    Few who know the stark truth about the USA Native American genocide can discuss it verbally with the equilibrium Sherman Alexie demonstrates. I was surprised that Alexie actually referred to Native American Tribes as “Indians” — this is the misnomer Chris. Columbus/Poce de Leon used when they hit the (then) glorious shores of Puerto Rico? thinking they’d arrived in India. N. A. was a world of developed worlds, with rich cultural thinking and skillsets, quite different to India. The horrors of USA’s “penny dreadful” 20th- century cinematic films pumping white men-with-guns over ‘savages’ comes to mind.
    Equally, the sad fact that also on April 15, 2013, thousands of innocent men, women and children died in Iraq. And the USA sends drones to bomb innocent Pakistanis as we speak. USA points fingers everywhere but at itself.
    The meek shall inherit the earth, not the dumb and selfish meek. That’s good.
    Best wishes and keep up the good works.

  • pris

    I understand the anger expressed by Sherman and others concerning the spiritual practices. Due diligence and respect is REQUIRED when entering any realm you are not familiar with. I recently went to a pow wow but before I went I asked a native friend of mine is there was anything specific I should know. I did not want to be disrespectful. Yes she said…wear a long skirt, follow the directions you are given, and always ask if you don’t know or are unsure. It turned out to be a wonderful day and experience for my whole family. As someone who follows nature as my faith it was an honor to take part. This approach was met with many natives recognizing the willingness to learn and thus they shared. But as I watched and saw others who came in, grabbed at things and of all horrors allowed their children to run up and pound on the drums that was “colonial” behavior and was met with the appropriate cold shoulder or confrontation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marta.horvath.562 Marta Horvath

    Yesterday I left a detailed message with 3 questions to Mr Alexie. Today I do not see my post. What happened to it? Please, explain. Thank you so much.

  • Sidney Hatchl

    Why do you not discuss the on going genocide in Palestine. The Zionist take over of that area was anticipated in the writings of Theodor Herzl (May 2, 1860 – July 3, 1904) back in the late nineteenth century when among other things he acknowledged that the area was populated and that if a Jewish state were to be placed there that this would be a problem. In other words what to do with those living there.

    When that area, Palestine, a former part of the Ottoman Empire came under control of the victorious allies after WW I Great Britain was given the responsibility for administering that area. International law and various pronouncements occurred over the years, notably the Balfour Letter which Zionists site as a ticket to establish their Jewish state there. The pro Zionists ignore the clear rights of the Palestinian people under International law and refuse to acknowledge that that very Balfour Letter that they cite as their authority cleanly states that the rights of the existing population must be respected.

    Now after forcibly taking much of the land and killing or chasing off those who had been living there, many in permanent houses that their respective families had dwelt in for hundreds of years we are presented with a racist state based on race and religion. Strange that the United States seems destined to support that state as it continues its aggression. Why is support of a state founded on the basis of a specific religion and the superior rights of a specific race not a violation of the spirit of the Establishment Clause and the Fourteenth amendment to our Constitution?

  • truegangsteroflove

    Thanks for the intelligent reply. I’ve gone to a few pow wows, kind of lay low, just be there. I have a friend who is a member of the Shawnee tribe, and he lays low too. Those are really for the tribes involved, and not particularly spiritual – more gatherings and cultural celebrations. I find them painful, in that I can feel the pain, the insult, and the hurt. They always invite veterans to lead the dance around the activity area, and I never do. I didn’t fight, wasn’t in a war zone, and am not Native. I don’t think of myself as a veteran, except when it comes to benefits.

    A sweat lodge is different, intensely spiritual. Some people who go to the Lakota gatherings do the Sun Dance – very extreme. I can’t criticize, because I don’t know their internal states, but it seems people who do this are deeply into Indian identity. I’m not into any identity, just want spiritual breakthroughs. I believe we have an obligation to our Native peoples to help them preserve and revive their cultures, but don’t have much to offer int eh way of ideas, except that our entire way of being on this planet is about to change. We will soon be the ones in need of help.

  • Sprite

    Why did you write “the absolutely true diary of a part-time indian” in 2007..(?) Did something special happen to you then?

  • Joseph

    I recently watched Bill Moyers’ interview of Sherman Alexie on PBS, and I was fascinated by what Sherman had to say. In particular, I applaud Sherman for speaking so candidly and publicly about his own struggles with Bipolar Disorder and Alcoholism, and about how he eventually found the resources and inner strength that helped enable him to overcome these illnesses. Having struggled with and eventually overcome the challenges of having Bipolar Disorder myself, I am a strong believer in people who live with mental illness speaking out publicly about their struggles, their successes, and the ways in which they achieved recovery. I believe that individuals speaking out is the only way that we can educate people about these illnesses, reduce the stigma and misconceptions that exist, and make our society more tolerant and understanding with regard to what people living with mental illness go through. I also believe that individuals speaking out can have tremendous benefits for the many people who live with mental illness by helping them to realize that they are not alone, and by making them aware of the many treatment options and resources that are available to aid them in their recovery.

    Personally, I struggled with severe Bipolar Disorder for several years. I saw various psychiatrists and tried most of the medications that were available to treat Bipolar Disorder, and experienced little relief. It was not until 2004, when I tried having Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT) in addition to the medications that I was taking, that I began my recovery. The ECT worked so well that I have continued having it as a maintenance treatment with great success. I have continued with this treatment until the present time, and plan to continue with it long term. I still have occasional periods when I have difficulty with the Bipolar Disorder, which require the treatments to be adjusted, but for the majority of time I remain solidly in recovery with respect to this illness. In the years since my recovery in 2004, I have become a strong advocate for modern ECT, which I believe is a very good, but highly misunderstood treatment. I began speaking out publicly about my struggles with Bipolar Disorder, the ways in which I achieved recovery, and my success with ECT. I have tried to advocate for individuals who live with mental illness, and I have attempted to eliminate some of the stigma and misconceptions that are prevalent about mental illness and treatments. I plan to continue these efforts in the future.

    I commend Sherman Alexie for speaking so openly and publicly about his own struggles and successes, and I encourage others who live with mental illness to speak out and become advocates. Together we can help many people and eliminate stigma and misconceptions.

  • Nicolas Rossier

    Good insightful comment!
    So true!

  • Stephen Trout

    A conscientious President. I KNEW they existed..