What One Cannot See

It is raining. Not the kind that pounds on the roof and slaps at the windows.

But the soft kind of rain you only become aware of when it darkens the concrete.

Have you noticed that all the photos are back?

It seems amazing that the 15,000 photos on this blog took just an hour or so to import. Yet the 55,000 comments, mere text, took days.

I finished the novel called “The Dry” last night. Tonight I’ll begin another book. TV doesn’t impress me much these days.

However I just watched an old Law & Order SVU episode that includes Ellen Burstyn in the cast. Do you remember that one?

The one where Elliott’s daughter Kathleen goes on a wild spree, and they discover that she has bipolar disorder?

Elliott needs his unconventional mother, Ellen Burstyn, to testify that mental illness runs in the family, so that he can save Kathleen from herself.

His mother refuses medication. Because she prefers to be imaginative and flamboyant.

She chased snowflakes and lived her life just the way she wanted to, she tells her son. But she knew that she paid the highest of prices for doing so.

And so Ellen Burstyn, at the behest of Elliott’s partner, Olivia, goes to talk to her granddaughter in jail. And she tells her that she’s not crazy, she’s just different. Like she is. Chasing snowflakes.

It is one of my favorite episodes and I’ve watched it many times. It is emotional and heart-wrenching.

And emblematic of how society and families slowly come to (sometimes) understand the incurable monster that is mental illness.

Bruises you can see. Bruises mean someone has bumped into a table or been the recipient of someone’s fist.

But mental illness wends its way through our society like a silent rebuke.

Kathleen’s grandmother tells her, finally, that the higher you fly, the farther you fall. And Kathleen accepts what she cannot change and decides to take medication for her mental illness.

Life is sometimes just not fair for those with illnesses one cannot see.



  1. Thank you for this Brenda. Mental and emotional illness is a sickness just like any other physical illness. But there are unfortunatly some big differences in how people look at such illnesses. There is little understanding or acceptance. People with such illnesses do face shame and fear and because of that don’t always get the treatment they need.
    This is a subject close to my heart. There is a history of depression and some other related problems in my family. Many people will use alcohol to mask such problems, which is what my parents did. Others will refuse to admit there is a problem and suffer more than they should have to. I have a close family member that is bipolar and struggles constantly despite the intelligence and many talents he was born with. Most bipolar people are very intelligent, artistic and talented. It is heartbreaking.

  2. Love Law and Order. I always learn something.Mental Illness needs to be talked about more .We have great Drs. great medicine that is available to help people today .So glad we have shows like this to help educate us .

  3. Law and Order SVU is one of my favorite shows ever and I am still watching the reruns. And wow, I do remember that episode! It just happens to be one of my favorites also. I never thought she was crazy, just a free spirit who lived life on her terms. I was actually a little envious of her!

  4. Very well written on a unpredictable disease. I think sometimes the disease preventative drugs have more side effects than the actual disease so it is a hard call for a lot of people afflicated.

  5. Brenda, You Are back’. And the font is Great! So easy to read, too.
    Hope you are better and not coughing anymore. These have been
    Good days to stay in as much as possible and read, make soup or
    clean out drawers and cupboards.
    Do you happen to know the title of
    the Law and Order episode? After helping someone for many years who was bipolar I would so like to see this.
    Maybe it could be found on YouTube.

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