Running from crazy. Mariel Hemingway aptly produced a documentary film by this name, recounting her storied family’s history of suicide, substance abuse and mental illness.
As a girl spending summers at her family’s homestead in Ketchum, Idaho, she’d ride her bike seven miles into town. “That was my mode of transportation because the house was a little bit crazy, and so, the way I got out was on my bicycle, by myself,” says the author, film/television producer and unstoppable voice in the conversation of how to live a healthier, more meaningful life.
“My family wasn’t totally aware that it was mental illness,” she relates of their living a life of excess. “They just thought they were screwing up as parents. And I watched my older sisters, also struggling, growing up in a family that loved them so much, and I knew that something wasn’t adding up. The way they were living wasn’t working.”
Hemingway never met her paternal grandfather, the Pulitzer Prize winning novelist. He took his own life four months before Mariel was born, continuing a string of suicides in the family that later included her sister, Margaux.
Hemingway intentionally, desperately took a different path.
She has dedicated her life to studying the connection between mental and physical health, with a focus on transforming damaging messages and influences into healing — balance, energy and a sense of purpose.
“Initially, it was control. I was trying to control my life, circumstances and environment,” she relates. “But over the years of doing that, it made me realize that our physical and mental health are incredibly and very closely linked. It works hand in hand, and it’s not the norm for people to look at mental health from that perspective.”
Hemingway is this year’s keynote speaker at The LCADA Way Pearls of Wisdom Annual Benefit and Recognition Dinner on October 26 at Embassy Suites Rockside in Independence. The LCADA Way provides treatment for addiction and support for individuals in Cuyahoga, Lorain and Erie counties and surrounding communities.
Interactive raffles and auctions include a four-day Bahama cruise. This year, LCADA Way will honor Premier Truck Sales & Rental of Valley View with the President’s Award, and LifeCare owner Maud de la Porte will receive the Community Service Award.
Mental health struggles do not discriminate, and The LCADA Way’s tradition of inviting individuals of notoriety to share their stories is intentional. “Addiction and behavioral health issues affect so many people, regardless of faith, creed, color, social and economic status,” relates Joe Matuscak, director of marketing and development for The LCADA Way. “When we hear personal accounts from people we see in movies and on TV who have the same problems and worked through them, it is inspiring. ‘Wow, I can do that, too.’”
“Sharing your story is the start of finding your solution,” Hemingway adds, relating that she has told hers so often, yet learns something new about herself every time she shares. She knows it can empower others to do the same. “The hardest thing for people can be that feeling of isolation and not being understood or feeling heard,” she says.
Everyone’s recipe for wellness is different, Hemingway notes. “And it is always changing,” she relates, adding, “The more I know, the less I know.”
Hemingway shares knowledge from thought leaders in the mental health space on her new podcast, “Out Comes the Sun,” with Melissa Yamaguchi, part of a larger project of the Mariel Hemingway Foundation to become a resource navigator and clearinghouse for vetted behavioral health and psychiatric programs. “That is the dream,” she says.