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He Ain’t Crazy, He’s Your Brother

It’s funny how some people are eager to tell everyone they know about their high blood pressure or gout or last week’s asthma attack. The conversation may quickly turn into too much information, but you nod your head and say something like, “Gosh that’s rough. Guess you’ll have to avoid the French fries for a while.”

But what if someone – someone you know very well – started telling you about their schizophrenia or the manic episode they had last week? Would you have the same level of patience and sympathy? Would you feel uncomfortable?

People don’t talk about mental illness often because it is commonly considered shameful or embarrassing, as if people should be able to control their brain synapses. Funny how we don’t think people with diabetes need to just suck it up and get over it.

Next week, a display called “Nothing to Hide” is coming to Shasta County. Produced by the Massachusetts-based Family Diversity Projects, the museum-quality display is a collection of family photos and short interviews and essays. Although the families appear perfectly “ordinary,” one or more members suffer from mental illness, and the entire family deals with the consequences. The point of the display is to shed light on mental illness and to dispel stereotypes and misconceptions.

“I think it really shows how mental health touches every family,” said Katie Cassidy, a community education specialist with Shasta County’s Health and Human Services Agency. “We’ve all had some sort of experience with someone who has mental illness.”

The display is thought-provoking in part because the interviews and essays do not always identify the family member with mental illness, Cassidy said.

Addressing the stigma and discrimination related to mental illness is part of the county’s education and prevention effort, she added.

“Nothing to Hide” will be on display from May 3 through 14 at the Shasta Community Health Center, 1035 Placer Street, in Redding. Organizers will then divide up the exhibit and display portions from May 17 through 28 at the county Health and Human Services Agency centers in Anderson and Shasta Lake, at Shingletown Medical Center, and at Hill Country Health and Wellness Center in Round Mountain. There will also be a small display outside the Board of Supervisors chambers in the administration building on Court Street.

Like any other museum-type display, this one is intended to make you think and, just maybe, question your assumptions. So go have a look. You may get a little preview of the exhibit at the Family Diversity Projects website.

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• While you may know all about Turtle Bay’s big Festa Botanica this weekend, you might not know that the Shasta Rose Society is hosting a free “day in the rose garden” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 1. Members will explain how to grow roses in the Redding area, and offer miniature roses and other rose garden essentials for sale. The location for the event is 15925 Rock Creek Road, just west of Keswick.

• If roses are little tame for you, consider Shasta College’s Diesel Tech and 4×4 Club’s “Unlimited Vehicle & Equipment Show and Swap” from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. this Saturday, May 1, in the main campus’s east parking lot. Organizers promise entertainment, door prizes and awards for participants. Get yourself in to the show for $3, or enter your unique vehicle for $15 (or $20 day of the show). For details, contact Shasta College instructor Ray Nicholas, 242-2213.

• For something completely different, check out the Shasta Dragonwood Celtic Faire at Anderson River Park on Saturday and Sunday. Music, food, parades, even jousting. And you’ll save $2 on your admission ticket if you bring a can for the food drive.

Paul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and will not be jousting this weekend. He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at pauls.anewscafe@gmail.com.