Glenn Close has been a heroine of mine since 1991, when I saw her in Sarah Plain and Tall. Today, I met her... almost.
Glenn Close, her sister Jessie Close and nephew Calen Pick were the introduction to my first SfN. Their stories of battling bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder were strong, and deeply touching. Bringchange2mind.org has done a fantastic job of reaching out to people with or touched by mental illness; and communicating to the world that mental illness is a physical ailment like any other of the body, not to be isolated as demonic or self-inflicted. Calen spoke of the self-hatred coincident with not being able to control your own stream of consciousness or emotion, and the effort that bringchange2mind puts toward erasing this attitude from Consumers, survivors and loved ones whose lives are impacted. One in four families is touched by mental illness, Glenn reminded us.
Jessie and Calen gave very personal insight into their struggles to find and hold on to reality, and opened a week-long convention of cutting edge research by suggesting that neuroscientists like those present were responsible for their current states of health. It is so infrequently in science that people look at your work and say, "this is so beautiful, what you've done." And it was profoundly impactful to me to hear Calen Pick thank the present body of researchers for their work. From an artist, that is an especially beautiful complement.
The afternoon's first poster session was overwhelming only in that I did not expect to be pumping so much adrenaline. Twenty-six posters interrupted by a nanosymposium was a good pace. However, my session frequency was all over the place, and I spanned the length of the convention center from the single to the triple letter aisles more than once. The following days were much more focused.
Nearing 5pm, as I walked out of the center I passed Glenn and Jessie Close and Calen Pick in the company of their entourage. In the ten seconds during which I approached and then passed them by, I made eye contact, smiled and nodded respectfully, chickened out of approaching and asking to shake the hand of my emotive activist childhood heroine, and regretted it. Thus began the epicness of my first SfN.