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Actress, activist Mariel Hemingway speaks about mental health
Daily Press - 12/11/2019
Dec. 11--VICTORVILLE -- Academy Award-nominated actress, model and writer, Mariel Hemingway on Monday brought a message of healing and hope to a group of teachers from several school districts in the High Desert.
The granddaughter of the late journalist and novelist Ernest Hemingway, was at El Pescador Restaurant in Victorville to speak about mental health during a private event hosted by the California Teachers Association.
"I come from a small town just like this and I love small communities because I think they have so much heart and passion to find answers and to create solutions for the issues that plague our entire country," Hemingway told the Daily Press after the event. "When you come to a small area, there seems to be a focus on the ability to join hands and make a difference."
Dawn Murray, a CTA representative, said the "sold out" event proves a discussion on mental health is needed.
Murray added that "teachers are under a tremendous amount of stress, more so this year than ever before."
After leading the audience in a moment of deep breathing and meditation, Hemingway, 58, said,"You teachers are such an important part of our daily lives, but you have a daunting task each and every day."
Hemingway then began sharing the secret of how her life "was saved" from traveling down the same generational path of alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide that claimed many in her family.
"They were plagued by some pretty tremendous, big demons in their lives," she said, also revealing her struggles with depression and an addiction to dieting and fitness.
Growing up in Idaho, Hemingway said as a young child, she would often find empty bottles of alcohol thrown about the house and blood on the wall.
"I would clean it up and think that if I clean it up, we'll wake up the next day and it will all be gone, I'll make it better," Hemingway told the audience. "That is when I realized that my role in life was to make things better. I was going to fix everybody. Even at 7, I was going to fix my entire family."
Hemingway said she believes her grandfather, Ernest, was bi-polar and that he "self-medicated" with alcohol and hard living until he took his life in 1961, about four months before Mariel was born.
A total of seven Hemingway's family members took their own lives, including her older sister Margaux, who died from an overdose in 1996.
Mariel Hemingway was 14 when she starred with her sister Margaux in the 1976 film."Lipstick." Three years later, she received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Woody Allen's "Manhattan." In the early '80s, she starred in "Personal Best" and "Star 80," a film about the tragic life and death of Playboy centerfold Dorothy Stratten.
A tearful Hemingway said her life was changed about 15 years ago when she met the Dali Lama. During her visit, the spiritual leader sat near her for hours, said nothing, then gently reached over, touched her hand and said, "You will be okay."
"It was as though he had looked into my soul, and suddenly, I knew he was right," said Hemingway, who shared how she then returned to her Idaho roots were she "got outside, went barefoot and connected with nature."
"I believe that grounding, being out in nature and conducting with the earth is the very thing that saved my life," Hemingway said. "Because it wasn't until maybe 15 years ago that I realized that I had been depressed every single day of my life, pretty much."
Hemingway said she quickly discovered that she was her own best teacher, doctor and friend, and that she was responsible for her own healing.
"I think that we're all on these journeys to find balance in our lives," Hemingway said. 'I think we want to be healthy, we want to get past our story."
Hemingway told the group that her two daughters, both in their 30's, have been warned about the darkness that has shrouded the Hemingway family.
The actress told the Daily Press that she is working on a film that deals with suicide prevention among teens, adding that, "Social media is a powerful tool when it comes to impacting youth. We need to use it to tell our kids that they are loved and that it's not all about likes and shares."
In May 2015, in alignment with National Mental Health Awareness month, Regan Arts Publishing released two books, including Hemingway's memoir, "Out Came The Sun" and a young adult-targeted diary form project about the journey from surviving to thriving, entitled "Invisible Girl."
For more information on Mariel Hemingway, visit www.facebook.com/mariel.hemingway.
Reporter Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227, RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com, Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.
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