Fox Point, Wisconsin. – At this point, you might say that Meg Kissinger is an open book.
“The story about this is that I got suspended once, and I can’t remember what bad things I did,” he said, bringing up a collage he made as a teenager. “This was when I was probably a sophomore in high school. That was when I was the naughtiest. I found all my old photos.”
Kissinger knows the power of the pen. To use her earlier journalistic expressions, she has used her words as a tool to comfort those who are suffering and torment those who are at ease.
Kissinger spent most of his 35 years as a newspaper reporter in Milwaukee, first at the Milwaukee Journal before merging with the Sentinel, where he exposed serious problems in the mental health system and inspired change.
“And I thought the biggest story of my life was sitting in my lap,” Kissinger said in his Fox Point backyard. “It’s in my own family.”
Kissinger’s own family was Irish Catholic and had eight children.
“I was the middle child and grew up in a loving but mentally ill family,” Kissinger said.
Growing up in Wilmette, Illinois, this future reporter’s particular curiosity started early.
“I had all these questions when I was a kid,” Kissinger said. “When she was a child, her mother would leave her home for long periods of time and she had no idea where she was.”
Before Kissinger began her career seeking answers, she said much of her family’s life remained shrouded in darkness and closed off.
“The night my sister died, my father called us all into the living room and said in no uncertain terms, ‘If anyone asks, this was an accident,'” Kissinger said.
SUBSCRIBE NOW: Get daily headlines and breaking news emails from FOX6 News
But it wasn’t an accident. Kissinger’s sister Nancy committed suicide in her 20s.
“I loved my father very much,” Kissinger said. “He was a wonderful, caring, funny guy, but I think…he was afraid of not being understood by people. I feel like that kind of approach really builds a foundation of shame. Masu.”
Kissinger knew the power of words, even those not spoken.
“I would call my brothers and sisters and ask them, ‘Do I remember this correctly? Is it true that we never talked about Nancy after she died?'” Kissinger said. he said. “They were like, ‘Yeah, well, sort of.'”
It wasn’t just Nancy. Many in Kissinger’s family struggled with their own mental health issues, including her brother Danny, who hanged himself 17 years after Nancy’s death.
“My brother wrote that only love and understanding can overcome this situation,” Kissinger said of the note Danny left her about a week before his suicide.
These words have stuck with Kissinger ever since, serving as a kind of guiding light to pull back the darkness.
“I was able to use the tools that I have used as a reporter for many years, but I just turned the problem on myself and my family,” Kissinger said.
Over the past few years, Kissinger has uncovered her family’s history, and she and her siblings have poured their souls into her new book, While You Were Out – an open book in every sense of the word. This is a book.
Kissinger wrote openly about his parents’ alcoholism and his younger brother Danny’s legal problems. Kissinger acknowledges that it can be difficult to help people with mental health problems, but he still paints a humane picture of why that help is so important.
“I hope that people walk away seeing people with mental illness again as less scary people, as human beings worthy of love and care and attention,” Kissinger said. “It could happen to anyone.”
Free Download: Get breaking news alerts with the FOX6 News app for iOS or Android
It’s not about correcting past mistakes, it’s about writing for a better future. Kissinger said that while the landscape around mental health is changing and talking about it is becoming less taboo, there is still work to be done.
“We certainly need more doctors. It’s scandalous,” Kissinger said. “Did you know that more than half of America’s counties don’t have a psychiatrist?”
Kissinger said he hopes books like his can turn the pages.
“Our family felt sadness, but we also felt great joy,” Kissinger said. “I wrote this book to spark conversation and make it relatable so people could say, ‘This happened in my mother’s family,’ or ‘This happened in my mother’s family.’ Being able to say, ‘This happened to me in my family,’ and opening the door for people to have conversations about these things.” , it’s becoming normal. ”
As her brother once told her, perhaps the most important words are: “Only love and understanding can overcome this.”
“I think he had a formula,” Kissinger said.
Mental Health Emergency Center
The Mental Health Emergency Center (MHEC) is a new countywide psychiatric emergency department providing 24/7 crisis mental health assessment, stabilization, treatment, and transitional care management for children, adolescents, and adults. Masu.
1525 N. 12th Street
Milwaukee WI 53205
Access to the clinic
Serving uninsured Milwaukee County residents.
We provide mental health evaluations, medications, and treatment referrals.
Clients are seen on a first-come, first-served basis, so wait times may be long.
Monday to Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Initial evaluation walk-in hours: 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
access clinic south
1635 W. National Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53204
access clinic east
210 W. Capitol Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53212
NAMI National Alliance on Mental Illness – Southeast Wisconsin
Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Provide information and referrals to appropriate resources, support groups, and advocacy services related to mental health.
We provide comprehensive mental health care and support to children, teens, and young adults who may not otherwise receive services. We also provide specialized counseling for young victims of sexual abuse. Please call us for more information or to make a reservation. A sliding fee scale is available.
4200 N. Holton Street – Suite 400, Milwaukee
Walker’s Point Youth and Family Center
Free and confidential counseling services focused on runaways, homeless, and other youth and their families. Provides a 24/7 crisis hotline, family and parent counseling, individual and group counseling, referrals and emergency shelter for runaways and at-risk youth.
2030 W. National Avenue, Milwaukee
A peer-run support line for people with mental illness. This is not a crisis situation.