Why Lenore Rowntree and Lynne Van Luven want to talk about mental illness
In 2013, Shelagh Rogers talked to Lenore Rowntree and Lynne Van Luven about a collection of personal essays on mental illness. Rowntree, a Toronto author and playwright, co-edited the collection with Andrew Boden and contributed an essay. Van Luven, a former University of Victoria professor, is also a contributor.
The book has been updated and reissued as Hidden Lives: True Stories from People Who Live with Mental Illness.
Lenore Rowntree on collecting personal stories
There were a few people that I wanted to approach and I didn't have the nerve, partly because one of the publishers wanted Andrew and I to track down some famous Americans. That felt nerve-wracking to us. We decided not to. We didn't know how to approach somebody and say, "We think you're acting like you maybe have a mental illness. Would you like to write about that?" That didn't work well. But the call for submissions that we put out got a very good response. Certainly more stories than we could put in an anthology.
Lynn Van Luven on why she had to speak up
I'm at a stage in my own life where I've made a strange sort of peace with my depression. I understand it's going to accompany me to the grave, but I have a pretty good management strategy. I thought, "If I can't talk about this now, who will?" I almost felt a civic duty — not to out myself because I've been pretty open about it in the workplace and around people that I'm close to — that it could be a useful public service to talk honestly about depression.
Lenore Rowntree's and Lynne Van Luven's comments have been edited and condensed.