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Hidden Lives: True Stories of People who Live with Mental Illness

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
5:30-7:00 pm
1131 Howe St. Vancouver.
(Access is by way of the lane between Howe Street and Hornby Street. Knock on the door that says Cineworks.)

Hidden Lives: true stories of people who live with mental illness
(Touchwood, 2017)
Edited by Lenore Rowntree and Andrew Boden

In this ground-breaking collection, well-known and cutting-edge authors bring to light life with mental illness. These evocative essays, by writers who either suffer from or have close family members diagnosed with mental illness or a developmental disorder, aim to break down the stigma that surrounds one of the most devastating of human tribulations. The writers recount their experiences with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, clinical depression, anorexia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and dissociative identity disorder. Hidden Lives gives readers a place to turn and communicates not despair but courage.

“A privileged if uncomfortably close look at one of the most devastating a human tribulations. For all the raw honestly of its revelations, Hidden Lives communicates not despair but courage.” —Gabor Maté, MD

Readings and discussion by co-editors Lenore Rowntree and Andrew Boden

Additional discussion by invited guest Sandra Luckow

Attendance is free but please RSVP to by March 17, 2019.  (An optional light meal is available at $10.00 per person payable by cash at the event.)

More about Hidden Lives:

About the facilitators:

Lenore Rowntree is a Canadian author and playwright. She is a co-editor and contributor to the collection of life stories Hidden Lives: true stories from people who live with mental illness (Touchwood Editions/Brindle & Glass, 2nd ed. 2017)Her novel Cluck is the darkly comic story of Henry whose mother lives with bipolar disorder and was a finalist for the Great BC Novel contest (Thistledown Press, 2016).

Andrew Boden‘s articles on mental illness have appeared in Open Minds Quarterly and Other Voices. His stories and essays have appeared in The Journey Prize Stories: 22Prairie FireDescantVancouver Review, and the anthology Nobody’s Father: Life Without Kids. Andrew is vice-president and director of the Institute for Cross-Cultural Exchange, a Canadian children’s literacy charity.

Sandra Luckow teaches documentary and narrative film production at Columbia University, Barnard College and Yale School of Art. Her film THAT WAY MADNESS LIES will be screened at the Cinematheque on March 20th at 7:30 PM as part of the Frames of Mind Mental Health film series.

Note: Sandra’s comments this evening will be informed by a book she highly recommends: I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help! How To Help Someone With Mental Illness Accept Treatment by Dr. Xavier Amador

Additional details about tonight’s event:

A reminder: Attendance is free but please RSVP to by March 17, 2019. (An optional light meal is available at $10.00 per person payable by cash at the event.)

Interested attendees of Lucid can purchase tickets to attend the Frames Of Mind screening that immediately follows the Lucid event. See

Feel free to email us with any questions or comments at, and be sure to check out our blog: for updates!

Thank you for supporting Lucid!


June Readings

June 14, 2016 7:00pm
Hardwick Hall, UBC Medical Student and Alumni Centre
2750 Heather St, Vancouver

For the June meeting of the Lucid Book Club and Reading Series, we will be featuring a diverse group of writers and mental health practitioners from the local communities, presenting their writing projects. The event will showcase a variety of work, ranging from memoir to poetry, fiction and self-help.
Continue reading

The Empathy Exams: Essays

empathy-examsMonday April 4, 2016 7:00 pm
Hardwick Hall, UBC Medical Student and Alumni Centre
2750 Heather St, Vancouver

Discussant: Rita Charon, MD, PhD, Professor of Clinical Medicine and Executive Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University.

Readers note – only the first essay of the collection (also titled “The Empathy Exams”) will be discussed.

Beginning with her experience as a medical actor, paid to act out symptoms for medical students to diagnose, Leslie Jamison’s visceral and revealing essays ask essential questions about our basic understanding of others: How should we care about one another? How can we feel another’s pain, especially when pain can be assumed, distorted, or performed? Is empathy a tool by which to test or even grade each other? By confronting pain—real and imagined, her own and others’—Jamison uncovers a personal and cultural urgency to feel. She draws from her own experiences of illness and bodily injury to engage in an exploration that extends far beyond her life, spanning wide-ranging territory—from poverty tourism to phantom diseases, street violence to reality television, illness to incarceration—in its search for a kind of sight shaped by humility and grace. The Empathy Exams is a brilliant and forceful book by one of America’s vital young writers.

“Extraordinary . . . she calls to mind writers as disparate as Joan Didion and John Jeremiah Sullivan as she interrogates the palpitations of not just her own trippy heart but of all of ours. . . . Her cerebral, witty, multichambered essays tend to swing around to one topic in particular: what we mean when we say we feel someone else’s pain. . . . I’m not sure I’m capable of recommending a book because it might make you a better person. But watching the philosopher in Ms. Jamison grapple with empathy is a heart-expanding exercise.”Dwight Garner, The New York Times

“[A] stunning collection. . . . A profound investigation of empathy’s potential and its limits.”Cosmopolitan, “10 Books by Women You Have to Read This Spring”

More Reviews at:

Download the reading guide (PDF)


An Anthropologist on Mars

An-Anthropologist-on-Mars-1Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Alumni Room
UBC Medical Student & Alumni Centre (MSAC)
2750 Heather Street, Vancouver, BC  Canada  V5Z 4M2
(Corner of 12th and Heather)

“Neurological patients, Oliver Sacks has written, are travellers to unimaginable lands. An Anthropologist on Mars offers portraits of seven such travellers– including a surgeon consumed by the compulsive tics of Tourette’s Syndrome except when he is operating; an artist who loses all sense of color in a car accident, but finds a new sensibility and creative power in black and white; and an autistic professor who has great difficulty deciphering the simplest social exchange between humans, but has built a career out of her intuitive understanding of animal behavior.

These are paradoxical tales, for neurological disease can conduct one to other modes of being that–however abnormal they may be to our way of thinking–may develop virtues and beauties of their own. The exploration of these individual lives is not one that can be made in a consulting room or office, and Dr. Sacks has taken off his white coat and deserted the hospital, by and large, to join his subjects in their own environments. He feels, he says, in part like a neuroanthropologist, but most of all like a physician, called here and there to make house calls, house calls at the far borders of experience.

Along the way, he gives us a new perspective on the way our brains construct our individual worlds. In his lucid and compelling reconstructions of the mental acts we take for granted–the act of seeing, the transport of memory, the notion of color–Oliver Sacks provokes anew a sense of wonder at who we are.”

Discussion facilitated by Dr Robert Stowe. Dr. Robert Stowe obtained an MD at Queen’s University; a year of graduate studies in philosophy of mind and a neurology residency at  the University of Toronto; and a fellowship in behavioral neurology at Harvard Medical School. He was a founding Core Faculty member of the joint University of Pittsburgh-Carnegie Mellon University Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition. Since 1998 he has been practising behavioral neurology and neuropsychiatry in Vancouver, where he is based in the UBC Neuropsychiatry Program, and lectures on disorders of higher cortical function.

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

All+My+Puny+SorrowsTuesday, September 22, 2015
Alumni Room
UBC Medical Student & Alumni Centre (MSAC)
2750 Heather Street, Vancouver, BC  Canada  V5Z 4M2
(Corner of 12th and Heather)

SHORTLISTED 2014 – Scotiabank Giller Prize

Miriam Toews is beloved for her irresistible voice, for mingling laughter and heartwrenching poignancy like no other writer. In her most passionate novel yet, she brings us the riveting story of two sisters, and a love that illuminates life.

You won’t forget Elf and Yoli, two smart and loving sisters. Elfrieda, a world-renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, happily married: she wants to die. Yolandi, divorced, broke, sleeping with the wrong men as she tries to find true love: she desperately wants to keep her older sister alive. Yoli is a beguiling mess, wickedly funny even as she stumbles through life struggling to keep her teenage kids and mother happy, her exes from hating her, her sister from killing herself and her own heart from breaking.

But Elf’s latest suicide attempt is a shock: she is three weeks away from the opening of her highly anticipated international tour. Can she be nursed back to “health” in time? As the situation becomes ever more complicated, Yoli faces the most terrifying decision of her life.

All My Puny Sorrows, at once tender and unquiet, offers a profound reflection on the limits of love, and the sometimes unimaginable challenges we experience when childhood becomes a new country of adult commitments and responsibilities. In her beautifully rendered new novel, Miriam Toews gives us a startling demonstration of how to carry on with hope and love and the business of living even when grief loads the heart.

(from )

Discussion facilitated by George Fetherling, a prolific poet, novelist, cultural commentator and memoirist. He has published 50 books of poetry, fiction, criticism, history and biography, including the novel Walt Whitman’s Secret and the poetry collection The Sylvia Hotel Poems

Supported by the Public Education Program, UBC Department of Psychiatry and the Institute of Mental Health.


Globe & Mail Review of All My Puny Sorrows by Jared Bland

Hold that date! – Our next reading will be on November 24, 2015


High Clear Bell of Morning

high_clear_bellcmyk_300Wednesday, November 12, 2014
7:15pm – 9:00pm Gibson Room, Green College, UBC

Canadian novelist and biologist Ann Eriksson will be reading from her new novel, High Clear Bell of Morning, a gripping tale of a father’s love and the extent to which he will go to protect his daughter with schizophrenia.  Ann combines a background in ecology with her life experiences to create works of fiction grounded in nature and populated with compelling characters.

High Clear Bell of Morning illustrates the strain on families facing mental illnesses, and draws attention to the inadequate system that is meant to help. At the same time, it celebrates the natural world and sends a cautionary warning of what we all have to lose.

More about the book :

About Ann Ericksson:

June Readings

June 11, 2014, 7:15-9:00pm
Gibson Room, Green College

For the June meeting of the Lucid Book Club and Reading Series, we will be featuring a diverse group of writers and mental health practitioners from the local communities, presenting their writing projects. The event will showcase a variety of work, ranging from memoir to poetry, fiction and self-help.

reclaim-quinn thedolphin_canadian harbour_cover broken-word-alan-hill when-quietness-came Continue reading

Call for Presenters

The Lucid Book Club and Reading Series is seeking 10-15 minute creative readings on the theme of mental illness/health for our June 11th meeting, running from 7:15-9:00PM.  We are open to all genres of creative expression, from poetry, fiction, essay, memoir, drama, graphic novel, etc. Please submit a brief description of the work you’d like to present by May 1st to

Gang Stalking in Timothy Taylor’s Blue Light Project

May 14th 2014
Coach House, Green College 

For this Lucid Book Club and Reading Series Meeting, local author Timothy Taylor will be joining us to discuss his latest novel, The Blue Light Project.  Psychiatric commentary will also be provided by Dr. Randall White, director of the BC Psychosis program at UBC Hospital.

Our meeting will be focusing specifically on the mental health aspect of mass delusions within the book, and how time periods affect the delusions people suffer from.  Participants may find it helpful to read the following article in conjunction with the book:


Rising Sun, Falling Shadow

Rising Sun, Falling ShadowApril 9, 2014,  7:15pm – 9:00pm at the Coach House, Green College UBC

Local author Daniel Kalla will be joining us to read from his most recent novel Rising Sun, Falling Shadow, and discuss his dual career as an emergency room physician and writer.

Daniel Kalla produces engrossing novels with an intensity that matches the challenge of his other role as Department Head of Emergency Medicine at an urban teaching hospital in Vancouver. His first five novels, medical thrillers, focus on themes that lie at the heart of his professional life, delving into topics as diverse as superbugs, pandemics, addiction, DNA evidence and patient abuse. His seventh novel, The Far Side Of The Sky, is a historical novel set against a startling, yet little known, chapter of the Second World War, when 20,000 Jews fled Germany to find shelter in only one city: Shanghai, “The Paris of the East”. His latest, Rising Sun, Falling Shadow, continues the story – A story of espionage, betrayal, and one family’s struggle to survive in war-torn Shanghai.

“A vivid, realistic novel that rewards the emotional investment it encourages.” –The Vancouver Sun

“Despite its grim subject matter, this gripping historical novel communicates a hopeful message about the power of love and friendship to overcome hatred.” — Booklist

Author reading sponsored by Canada Council, Isaac Waldman Jewish Public Library and UBC Department of Psychiatry.