Out in the Openwith Piya Chattopadhyay


Invisible Illness

When you can see symptoms, hear pain and touch scars, you can sympathize with sickness. But sometimes, it wears a mask. This week, Piya speaks with people whose disabilities, disorders and diseases live beneath the surface and asks: What's it like to live with 'invisible illness'?


The model family is often depicted as close, loving and in contact. But new research shows a less-romanticized reality: estrangement from a loved one is more common than we think, and yet we still don't fully understand or accept it. This week, Piya speaks with people who have cut off — and been cut off from — their immediate family members to find out the many motivations and effects of estrangement.

In the fallout of the 'M-bomb'

Two men at different stages of their diagnoses discuss struggling with multiple sclerosis.

Living with narcolepsy: 'I hate myself at times'

The struggle to get doctors to recognize your invisible illness

'Some people spell ADHD... as N-U-T-S'

When we talk about ADHD, we usually talk about kids. In adults, it can go undiagnosed for a long time. That was what happened to Russ LeBlanc.

How race and politics threaten to divide one family

Panama Jackson identifies as black. His mom is white. And, at this point, Jackson is struggling to maintain a relationship with her because their politics and worldviews are so far apart.

Family estrangement isn't as rare as we think, we just don't talk about it

'People don't understand the kind of thought that goes into it.' Even though estrangement touches many families, it remains highly stigmatized and widely misunderstood. Becca Bland, founder of Stand Alone, shares her own experience of estrangement, which includes not just emotional hurt but ultimately emotional freedom.

What do you say to your father after almost a decade of estrangement?

Sandy Jorgenson stopped talking to her father when she was 23 years old after he left her mother. Almost a decade later, she sent him an email and told him what she learned and how he hurt her.

'Is this going to be forever?': How to handle losing contact with a child

Psychologist Josh Coleman lost complete contact with his daughter for years. He says he slowly earned her trust back by talking through their issues that had gone unspoken for so long.

'I see my children as strangers': The painful choice of Canada's temporary foreign workers

Gabriel Allahdua says his work as a migrant farmer left him estranged from both his family back in Saint Lucia and his new home.
Out in the Open

Crossing Divides

We have more ways than ever to communicate with each other. Yet even with all our discourse, it seems we're more divided than ever too, entrenched in camps by our politics, identities, abilities and values. This week, meet people who stepped over the line as Piya asks: What can you learn from crossing divides?

What a lifelong Democrat learned from a year trying to live like a Republican

From pig hunting to Tea Party meetings, for one year former NPR CEO Ken Stern immersed himself in the conservative culture he and his Democratic circles mocked. By the end of his undercover operation, he had left the Democratic Party.
Out in the Open

'I did have the blinders on': Former feminist on what changed her mind

Cassie Jaye used to call herself a feminist. She also used to consider so-called "men's rights activists" her enemy. But when she set out to make a documentary exposé about them, her perspective on gender and equality changed.
Out in the Open

'Communication is a basic human right': How this man with nonverbal autism found his voice

Ido Kedar was told as a child that he would never be able to communicate independently. As an adult, he has found his voice through his iPad and keyboard.
Out in the Open

The divide between Winnipeg's oldest and newest residents is starting to heal

A legacy of mutual distrust between new immigrants and Indigenous people in Winnipeg is being bridged by those who’ve made it a priority to cross that divide with open hearts and minds, while encouraging others to do the same.
Out in the Open

Breaking Silence

For months, we've been hearing countless people speak out about sexual assault and harassment, as part of the #MeToo movement. As a whole, it can look very emboldening. But for the people who choose to go public and make their voices heard, that empowerment can come at a great personal cost. This week, Piya asks: What does it take to break your silence?
Out in the Open

The psychological battle for women who go public about sexual violence

Silence can protect survivors of sexual assault, allow them to heal. Or it can isolate them, and let shame fester. So it’s hard to know when to break it.
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'I stood alone in pain': A residential school survivor on breaking silence about his abuse almost 30 years ago

Ted Quewezance faced backlash when he broke his silence about residential school abuse almost three decades ago, when the issue wasn’t a national conversation like it is now.
Out in the Open

When you're deaf, it's hard to admit you don't like it, says woman who got cochlear implants

Bev Biderman, who was born with a hereditary nerve deafness, learned about the opposition to cochlear implants from within the deaf community after she received them.
Out in the Open

This environmentalist didn't speak for 17 years to learn how to listen to his opponents

Environmentalist John Francis took a vow of silence because he worried that he’d stopped listening to people. In doing so, it deepened his understanding of the world around him.
Out in the Open

Last Words

The last words you ever say — or the ones said about you — can be like the closing chapter of your life story. This week, Piya explores the cultural weight we give to them and asks: What do you say on the way out?
Out in the Open

How to write the perfect eulogy

Keep it short, contain your emotions, and don’t make it all about you.
Out in the Open

A father's hilarious last words allowed him to be present at his own funeral

Max Israelite wrote his own eulogy before he died. His son was grateful to bring his dad to life by reading it at the funeral.
Out in the Open

Searching for answers in suicide notes

We often yearn for one's last words to be meaningful. But in the case of suicide, last words may not have the answers we seek. Piya speaks with three people about how the words contained in suicide notes and intended final texts affected their lives, and in one case, helped save a life.
Out in the Open

He has talked more than 200 people off the ledge of the Golden Gate Bridge

When Kevin Briggs started working as a California Highway Patrol Officer, he didn’t know that his job would include talking to suicidal people on the Golden Gate Bridge every month.