The following short film (18 minutes +/-) is about famous people with a mental illness and how our schools, our teachers, our textbooks failed to mention the connection between their illness of bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia… and their groundbreaking achievements and breakthroughs to generations of American children that later created a false impression and a stigma for those diagnosed with a mental illness. Rather than appreciate the mentally ill or have empathy for them, to often there’s fear and hate for this misunderstood group.
Copyright © 2014. All Rights Reserved. “In the company of geniuses” by Ted Burnett
All my videos and essays can be viewed on my websites – www.tedburnett.com and www.thesageofmobile.com. I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 16, 2014
The last time that I wrote to this entire audience was back in February with my essay titled “David and Goliath”. This ongoing story is about me finally standing up to my late father’s older brother, Jimmy, who’s an attorney. I’m seeking control of my inheritance, which Jimmy now controls as the executor of my late grandfather’s succession, in Louisiana (subject to Napoleonic Code). After initially being promised a quick resolution to this matter following my grandmother’s death, in the spring of 2010, over the next three years all I’ve gotten from him has been a lot of empty promises.
By December of 2013, I had enough and I went looking for a lawyer. I was referred to a tax attorney, out of Baton Rouge, LA, where he made contact with my uncle, in Shreveport, LA. Jimmy quickly trashed me and my mental health. Jimmy would later make similar promises to my new attorney to get him a sworn descriptive list (of assets) and a timeline of when he would be filing a judgment of possession with the court, but Jimmy never did. My biggest concern in pursuing this strategy, of hiring a lawyer, was whether Jimmy would retaliate by cutting me off from my monthly inheritance checks which provides me with the balance of the money that I need to make ends meet and enjoy a comfortable life until this legal matter is settled. Thankfully, he hasn’t and I really don’t know why.
As the first months passed, in 2014, my uncle repeatedly failed to turn over anything. By March, my attorney had had enough and he filed a motion in court asking the judge to order my uncle to turn over the sworn descriptive list. With the hearing set for Monday, May 5, 2014, my uncle had the audacity to call up my attorney on Friday asking if they could skip their court date while again agreeing to turnover this financial information. My attorney wisely said, “No” to my uncle’s request. My attorney finally wanted his requests to my uncle to be put on the record. On Monday, the judge ruled in our favor and he gave Jimmy 30 days to get that sworn descriptive list to us. We’ve gotten some of it, but we’re still waiting on the rest of it. None of this surprises me, which I think proves that he’s the crazy one, not me. I think even my attorney is surprised by the behavior of his peer and my uncle.
In April and May, I built two websites, www.tedburnett.com, moving and combining the following two blogs into one site (www.tedburnettresume.blogspot.com and www.toxicnation.blogspot.com). The second site, The Sage of Mobile (www.thesageofmobile.com), is intended to offer local content along with my essays and videos on national and international matters to area residents. The decision to create these sites comes in response to losing our daily newspaper and after seven years of writing these commentaries, I would like to test the waters and see if I can build a subscriber base. The details will be forthcoming in the next emails.
Earlier this summer, I learned about a program for dyslexics called FastForWord, put out by Scientific Learning (www.scilearn.com), which is based on neuroplasticity – that the brain is trainable, responds to stimuli and changes over time. Upon hearing about it and well-aware that I’m still suffering from the effects of dyslexia, I immediately signed-up for this web-based program after hearing about some of the success stories that my sponsor, who’s a licensed speech pathologist, has witnessed with some of the kids that she has already worked with.
FastForWord has five different programs with two levels. Upon completion of the first level, the participant moves on to the next one. Some of the programs involve quickly distinguishing and correctly identifying high and low sounds, matching words (by audio and visual) in an effort to expand the participant’s range of sound, which is typically limited for dyslexics. Other programs involve following a set of instructions, listening to repetitive stories and answering questions to develop short-term memory, which is another issue that most dyslexics suffer from when taking notes in a lecture and/or being able to quickly capture one’s thoughts.
The program comes with a one-year license and to be therapeutically-effective it has to be used four consecutive days with a minimum of 50 minutes up to a maximum of 90 minutes per session per day. Currently, I’m on level two and nearing the end of the program. I can’t explain what’s changed in my brain, but something has. In mid-June, I began expressing a desire to shoot videos to my sponsor and within weeks I pulled out my iPhone, I bought a lightweight tripod and some audio equipment allowing me to shoot video and record audio, outside.
Here’s my latest effort, In the company of geniuses. It’s an 18-minute film on mental illness and its relationship to genius, to achievement, to breakthroughs. It’s been well-received and it’s my response to a Coursera MOOC that I took on mental illness that I was later thrown out of, in early 2013, titled “The Social Context of Mental Health and Illness”, taught by the University of Toronto’s Social Work Professor Charmaine C. Williams. In March of 2013, I wrote a letter addressed to the University of Toronto’s President David Naylor complaining about how this course was poorly designed and presented. I think my film finally puts the subject matter in proper context and gives those of us with a mental illness some long-overdue dignity. As I was finishing up this film, I got word of actor and comedian Robin Williams’ tragic suicide.
All twelve of my videos can be seen my YouTube Channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/toxicnation1/videos, in many cases, I’m standing behind the camera and talking into a microphone on various topics like honesty, spirituality, my life and even some ideas for improving my city’s downtown, such as, moving our regional airport back to its original location.
Note: This video maybe the beginning of a shift away from writing essays. We’ll see.