In September 2012, Ken Barlow made a startling admission: the long-time KSTP Channel 5 television meteorologist revealed he was bipolar.
As part of his mission to destigmatize mental illness, Barlow will share his personal story at the third annual Breakfast for Bridgeview Tuesday, June 4, 7:30 to 9 a.m. at Murzyn Hall in Columbia Heights.
The breakfast raises money for Bridgeview, a Spring Lake Park drop-in center for adults living with serious and persistent mental illness (SPMI). Bipolar disorder can be considered an SPMI, commonly treated with medication and therapy.
Barlow publicly disclosed his battle with bipolar 1 disorder while hosting the 2012 annual National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) walk. Dave Wellstone, son of Paul Wellstone, the late Minnesota senator, was also at the walk as the keynote speaker. The men exchanged phone numbers and an initiative they call www.letsstarttalking.net was born.
Barlow was diagnosed with bipolar disorder back in 2007 after a hospitalization resulting from a negative reaction to medication for hand tremors. He didn’t realize it at the time but he was also in the middle of a manic episode.
The diagnosis hit Barlow hard. Like many living with serious mental health issues, Barlow was depressed about living with a chronic illness, he said.
“I was shocked,” Barlow said. “I was depressed because I now had this chronic illness that I have to deal with. They said I’d have to be on this medication the rest of my life. ... It was very upsetting to me.
“I’m now at a place with my illness that I am comfortable sharing my story and I want to hear from others who are on a path to healing from mental illness. That’s why I didn’t hesitate when Lee Carlson Center and Bridgeview asked me to be their keynote speaker.”
The theme for the Breakfast for Bridgeview fundraiser, which is open to the public, is Sharing Stories. Healing Minds. Together.
Bridgeview members will also be sharing their personal stories and attendees will learn firsthand about the work being done at the Spring Lake Park drop-in center.
In addition to a continental breakfast, the June fundraiser includes live demonstrations and art for sale by the Artists of Bridgeview and a raffle for prizes.
Those interested in attending can also send a check to Lee Carlson Center at 7954 University Ave. N.E., Fridley, MN 55432, attention Patty, or opt to pay at the door. Seating is limited. Tickets are $20 per person. Tables of eight can also be purchased for $125.
For those unable to attend, donations are accepted.
Proceeds help fund transportation for Bridgeview members to and from the center and for social activities in the community. Dollars raised also pay for support groups and for the art program.
For the past 28 years Bridgeview has served Anoka County adults who experience serious and persistent mental illness. It offers its members a setting that promotes social interaction and activities, psychosocial rehabilitation, wellness, health and recovery from mental illness.
Bridgeview is one of the many mental health programs offered by Lee Carlson Center for Mental Health & Well-Being, a clinic and non-profit located in Fridley.
For more than 30 years, Lee Carlson Center (formerly known as Central Center for Family Resources) has helped people of all ages cope with emotional health issues. It is the primary provider of mental health services in Anoka County and surrounding areas, seeing more than 4,000 individuals and families each year.
To learn more visit www.leecarlsoncenter.org. Or call 763-230-7836 to take a tour or request a presentation.