When Your Kid Asks About Anti-Depressants

by Bill Brenner October 28, 2015 Children's issues

My 12-year-old has a few things in common with his dad. Both of us have mental disorders (his is ADHD, mine is OCD with wintertime undercurrents of ADHD). Both of us take medication to help manage our ills. But until last weekend, he had never asked the big question: “What do these pills do, anyway?” Mood music: To answer the question, I dusted off an analogy I had used some years ago to explain it…  [Read More]

Duncan at 12: Like Me, Only Better

by Bill Brenner September 16, 2015 Children's issues

Yesterday my younger son, Duncan, turned 12. He’s been through a lot, and he makes me proud every day. Mood music: I often tell people Duncan is the spitting image of me at that age. He certainly looks like I did at 12. And as I did, he has developmental challenges. As a kid I was never diagnosed with something like ADHD or placed on the autism spectrum. But that was the early 1980s, when…  [Read More]

Turning Mental Disorder into a Superpower

by Bill Brenner December 15, 2014 Coping tools

Instead of fighting some mental disorders, such as OCD or ADHD, picture yourself accepting and even embracing them. Then learn to use your disorder to your advantage. It’s kind of like Luke Skywalker learning to use and control the Force instead of it controlling him, or Superman learning to control his super-senses. Mood music: This won’t work for every disorder, of course. Some are more serious than others, like PTSD and schizophrenia. But Edward (Ned)…  [Read More]

Seven Insights into Dealing with Depression

by Bill Brenner March 26, 2014 Depression

I got this question from a reader over the weekend, after he read my “Suicide in the Blood” post: I was just curious after reading this article: As much as I think about suicide and sometimes homicide, am I capable of carrying this out? I’m bipolar and have very serious depression also. Bipolar personality disorder and ADHD make it very hard to keep my mood swings down and my mind focused. I really need some…  [Read More]

When Teachers Get It

by Bill Brenner September 20, 2013 Children's issues

Last night I attended a parent information night at Sean and Duncan’s new school. It’s a great school, but the kids have been struggling to adjust, especially Duncan. That’s to be expected. But there is always that worry in the back of my brain that teachers will never truly understand Duncan, who has ADHD. We moved them to this new school because we felt Duncan in particular needed a more organized, regimented environment to thrive….  [Read More]

To Duncan on His 14th Birthday

by Bill Brenner September 14, 2013 Children's issues

Note: I’ve often written notes to my kids on their birthday. This was originally written when Duncan turned 1o. An open letter to my second child on his 10th birthday… Mood Music: At 2 a.m. on Sept. 15, 2003, I was jolted awake by your mom shoving me in the shoulder. I had just gone to bed 45 minutes earlier, and I had had a lot of wine the night before. You weren’t expected for…  [Read More]

I Was Interviewed Again

by Bill Brenner May 14, 2013 Mental disorders

This time, I was interviewed for a story about how mental illness can actually make people stronger in their jobs. Check it out on  

Me, Duncan and December-itis

by Bill Brenner December 11, 2012 Mental health

I’ve had a lot to say lately about my own efforts to manage winter’s depressive effect on my brain, but this is also a challenging month for my younger son, Duncan. Mood music: [spotify:track:7BeOWHtwV9IQ7jmqwwvvLP] I’ve written at length about Duncan and my struggle to help him when his ADHD comes crashing into my OCD. I’m proud of who he’s becoming. But no matter how much progress father and son make on our mental health, December may…  [Read More]

Too Many Balloons in the Air

by Bill Brenner September 17, 2012 Mental health

A friend on Twitter asked what a person is to do when OCD, ADHD and other mental maladies produce the effect illustrated in this comic strip on The illustration really hits home for me, having suffered from OCD and ADHD and having a son with ADHD (the alphabet soup alone is enough to short-circuit a person’s mind). All these conditions have one thing in common: the sufferer tries to keep track of everything going…  [Read More]

Welcome Back, Mrs. Silva

by Bill Brenner September 5, 2012 Children's issues

I rushed to the kids’ school this afternoon for a parent-teacher meeting and saw the most excellent sight: Eileen Silva, back in the mix, helping her fellow teachers sort through the usual chaos of afternoon dismissal. The first-grade teacher missed all last year due to illness, but she’s back, and it’s like she never left. Mood music: [spotify:track:0ZGLuduCPjgWY1n85ykgMe] We Brenners love Mrs. Silva for many of the same reasons other parents and students do: She’s a…  [Read More]