Kevin Mannix was a very popular, out-going and personable weather man for more than 25 years on Channel 6 in Portland. So it was a very big surprise when he stepped up to tell his story of shame and depression. He first told the story in a TV 6 series which won wide acclaim, along with much praise to Kevin for sharing his story.
Kevin and his wife Linda Rota, both of whom suffered from shame, tell their astonishing stories in a book, Weathering Shame. U.S. Senator Angus King expressed my view when he wrote, on the back cover, “I commend both Linda and Kevin for their willingness to share their very intimate stories. With their combined skills and experiences they make a powerful team in the effort to help others overcome the painful experiences that accompany mental illness and substance abuse within the family. I am grateful that they decided to strengthen the Maine Community by sharing their journey with us.”
Me too Angus. Me too.
Kevin suffered lots of childhood trauma that has significantly impacted his entire life. His father was an abusive alcoholic. When he was a kid, the family moved 8 times, so he was constantly changing schools. Sometimes they moved in the middle of the night, out of money, his father having spent all of their money on alcohol. All of this left Kevin “with very negative feelings about myself.”
Kevin’s Mom was severely depressed, and in the winter she would stay in bed for days on end. He would take care of her whenever she hid under the covers crying. She spent time in the hospital, received shock treatments, and, he reports, “At one point I counted nineteen prescription bottles on the kitchen table.” He often felt abandoned. “Sometimes even now, I fight the anxiousness that crops up when I am needed to be helpful,” he says. Kevin was married and divorced several times, his life a chaotic mess.
Linda’s Mom was mentally ill and committed suicide by throwing herself in front of a large truck on the highway when Linda was 7 years old. And the stigma surrounding suicide made her afraid, for most of her life that others would find out what her mother did.
“I felt like hiding under a rock whenever the subject of suicide came up in college,” she writes, “and since I studied social work and criminal justice, the subject came up a lot…. I always wondered if I would wind up ill like her and perhaps contemplate taking my life, maybe at age forty, just like her.”
These are two powerful and moving stories, important not just for those who suffer from shame and depression, but for all of us who can learn from Kevin and Linda’s experiences.