To help further initiate conversation and educate people about mental health, Close, 68, has joined Mashable’s #MindfulAllies campaign, which tells real stories about real people dealing with mental illness.
As part of the campaign, Close, a longtime advocate for ending the negative stigma attached to mental illness, penned an emotional letter in which she opened up about her family’s battle with mental illness.
“Over multiple generations, various members of my family and extended family have been impacted by: serious depression, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder,” she revealed. “I have learned that I have been living with mild depression for probably most of my life.”
Close and her sister Jessie opened up to PEOPLE about their family’s personal struggles with mental illness in 2014. After Jessie confided in Close about her suicidal thoughts in 2004, the actress set out on a journey to advocate for mental health.
Jessie’s son, Calen, had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder (bipolar with symptoms of schizophrenia) a number of years before.
“We are so blessed that she is still with us,” she wrote. “Tragically, she wasn’t properly diagnosed with bipolar disorder until she was 50.”
Helping Jessie cope with bipolar disorder inspired the actress to co-found the nonprofit Bring Change 2 Mind, which works to end discrimination against the mentally ill.
The actress said that the biggest thing she’s learned from her experience is the importance of having open conversations about mental health.
“Personal stories are incredibly powerful. It’s like opening a floodgate. No one should feel alone or ashamed. We are all in this together.”
“I hope more families will have the courage to talk openly about the mental health challenges they face.”