September 2014

Forgiveness: Trash Removal for the Soul

by Bill Brenner September 24, 2014 Personal Growth

Seeking and giving forgiveness is essential if you want to become a better person. But it’s hard and often seen as a green light for more abuse. Mood music: For you to understand what I’m about to get into, let’s review the AA 12 Steps of Recovery, which has been an important guide on my own flight from madness: 1. We admitted we were powerless over [insert addiction] — that our lives had become unmanageable. 2. Came…  [Read More]

When Anger Was All The Rage

by Bill Brenner September 22, 2014 Lessons from the past

I had a vicious temper when I was younger. To call it a byproduct of OCD, depression and addiction would be pushing it, because I think the temper would have been there even without the mental illness. Mood music: Examples of my temper include: Hurling a fork or steak knife at my brother in a restaurant on New Years Eve 1979 because he made a joke I didn’t like. The more dramatic among my family…  [Read More]

A Sick Mind, A Tragic Situation

by Bill Brenner September 18, 2014 The stormy past

A few years ago I wrote about childhood friend Mark Hedgecock, who at the time was a thrice-convicted pedophile who was chatting up young girls on Facebook. He got kicked off Facebook shortly thereafter, and I lost track of him. Unfortunately, his name has surfaced again. Mood music: He’s been accused of soliciting and collecting child porn through his email account. According to, the AG’s office was tipped off by the National Center for Missing…  [Read More]

Pain Leaks from Mind to Body

by Bill Brenner September 17, 2014 Fear and anxiety

Mental illness can lead to physical sickness. It’s a simple fact that some people find hard to believe. Mood music: I often hear people arguing over whether this person’s or that person’s aches and pains are “all in their head.” You know the type: There’s never any real underlying disease, but they’re always calling out of work with a headache or some intestinal discomfort. It’s all in their head, you say? Well, yeah. It’s called psychosomatic…  [Read More]

We Need More Roosevelts in Public Life

by Bill Brenner September 16, 2014 Inspiration

PBS launched a new Ken Burns series this week, this one on the Roosevelts. What I’ve seen so far reminds me of why I’ve always idolized this family. The documentary focuses on Teddy, Franklin and Eleanor — how they each overcame deep personal demons and rose to the top of American politics. In the process, they changed millions of lives for the better. I’ve written quite a bit about them over the years. The launch of Ken Burns’ latest…  [Read More]

Blackstone House of Horrors: The Story Doesn’t Add Up

by Bill Brenner September 15, 2014 News

There’s a pretty awful story unfolding here in Massachusetts, about four children living in filth and neglect at a home in Blackstone. It reads like a horror movie: The house was infested with vermin, 2-foot stacks of dirty diapers were everywhere and feces covered the walls. The two youngest kids showed signs of neglect. Police found the remains of three infants and a number of dead animals in the house. Mood music: The mom, 31-year-old Erika…  [Read More]

I Didn’t Know Danny Lewin, But I’m Grateful For Him

by Bill Brenner September 12, 2014 Gratitude

As an Akamai Technologies employee, I practically inhaled Molly Knight Raskin’s book, “No Better Time: The Brief, Remarkable Life of Danny Lewin, the Genius Who Transformed the Internet.” It’s a spectacular look at the history of the company, and it captures the Danny Lewin I’ve heard about from colleagues who knew him. Mood music: I was laboring unhappily at a newspaper on Sept. 11, 2001, when Lewin died aboard American Airlines Flight 11. It’s largely…  [Read More]

9/11 Lessons: We Rise Again

by Bill Brenner September 11, 2014 Courage

As we take time to remember those we lost on Sept. 11, 2001, let’s also remember what we’ve held onto. Mood music: As the years have passed, I’ve found myself comparing the terrorist attacks to the personal demons we all deal with at various points in our lives. Many of us have fears, regrets, dreams and nightmares. Like terrorists who threaten to blow up buildings and people, our personal demons threaten to destroy us. But as I’ve…  [Read More]

Making Sense of a 9/11 Obsession

by Bill Brenner September 10, 2014 Compulsive behaviors

It happens every time the calendar rolls into September. I start watching documentaries about 9/11 and can’t stop. It’s as if an unseen force is controlling my actions. I go from one YouTube clip to the next. Many people do this in the days leading up to the anniversary, but for me there’s the OCD element, where after I watch something I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ll forget the rest of the world exists and…  [Read More]

Those Scars Are for Life

by Bill Brenner September 9, 2014 Dealing with life

Yesterday I came across this quote from Rose Kennedy, late matriarch of the 20th-century political dynasty: “It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” –Rose Kennedy Whatever you may think of the Kennedys, it’s a fact that Rose lived through more than her fair share of grief. Her…  [Read More]