Standing up to stigma

Editor of the Reformer:

A broken brain differs from a broken leg mainly in the difficulties in healing and the length of time and struggles to achieve that end. Both are medical problems. But we don’t whisper about a broken leg or hide the patient’s struggle.

I am delighted to see that some sensible person has donated $50,000 to the Brattleboro Retreat to combat stigma. Stigma is what leads to all the whispering, shame and secretive behavior. In the 21st century surely enough people have been educated and enlightened to realize that mental illness is just another bodily affliction, fixable much of the time, and not some moral flaw or the result of poor parenting. I keep writing these letters to the editor, not because I am an exhibitionist or a narcissist, but because I have to do something with the helplessness I feel watching a beloved relative fight treatment and suffer for the past 29 years. I’ve done everything I could think of to keep my relative safe. However, severe and persistent mental illnesses like paranoid schizophrenia do sometimes (thankfully rarely) produce a patient who says no to every offer of help. We have only to look at the TV news to encounter bewildered families who tried and tried to no avail.

Mercifully, most patients recognize they need help, utilize it at a place like the Retreat, and return to productive lives. All around us are people we know who have had treatment and returned to normal lives. Thankfully, many high profile folks now speak of it openly. It is their way to stand up to stigma.

Claudette Hollenbeck,

Wilmington, June 6

Some (power-ful) context

Editor of the Reformer:

The article of June 11 about the planned solar electric generating facility along I-91 near the Brattleboro Holiday Inn Express ("Solar panels going up along highway") needs some perspective. The solar facility is said to be 2.2 megawatts on 13 acres of land. That calculates at 0.2 (two-tenths) of a megawatt per acre.

Now compare this with Vermont Yankee’s 4.8 megawatts per acre on their 125 total acres. The actual plant occupies less than 20 percent of that area. Vermont Yankee operates at a capacity factor of over 90 percent, 24/7. Solar electric facilities operate at considerably less than 40 to 50 percent.

Nuclear, baseload and centralized generating stations are considered by the new-age green/distributed power smarties as so 20th century, but we’ll see.

Dan Marx,

Dummerston, June 11