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No kidding? Me, too! Joe Pantoliano shares story of life with mental dis-ease

Pantoliano shared his journey with supporters and friends of Rosecrance Chicagoland services at the annual Launch to Life benefit on October 21.

Standing onstage to receive an Emmy Award, actor Joe Pantoliano reached a career pinnacle, yet the “good life” seemed far off.

“All my dreams were coming true, but my mind said it wasn’t good enough,” he said. “Now that I won this trophy, why didn’t I feel better? I thought that it was only an Emmy, not an Academy Award. I set a new goal—if I won an Oscar, then I’d be right-minded.”

Several years later, Pantoliano was diagnosed with clinical depression. Grateful to have a diagnosis that explained his condition, he began to talk openly about mental dis-ease. This led to his nonprofit organization, No Kidding? Me, Too!, which enlisted other Hollywood personalities to educate and talk mental health.

Pantoliano shared his journey with supporters and friends of Rosecrance Chicagoland services at the annual Launch to Life benefit on October 21 at the University Club of Chicago.

Speaking openly came with an initial cost, as mental illness created extra concerns among Hollywood producers. When asked to sign a waiver for missing work because of depression but not physical conditions, Pantoliano poured even more energy into his organization.

“Why did they discriminate against my brain? Why does one vital organ get less treatment than another?” he said. “We’ve come a long way since then. Every time I turn on the TV, I see movie stars and athletes talking about mental health. It’s something I started to do in 2008 and is becoming more accepted now.”

Through therapy, 12-Step groups, and the support of family and friends, Pantoliano is grateful for the journey, though he acknowledges there are days when life brings dis-ease.

“My life and my family’s life has been much richer, but I still have terrible days,” he said. “Now I have a toolkit that I can work with.”

Rob, an alum of the sober living residence facility at Rosecrance Lakeview, as well as the Rosecrance Harrison Campus in Rockford, also shared how treatment transformed his life.

He previously had gone to treatment, but hadn’t truly been ready to make a change. This time was different, and he focused on learning all he could to sustain recovery. He credited Rosecrance Lakeview’s caring staff for creating “Team Rob” to provide long-term support.

“Team Rob is part of Rosecrance, and Roscrance helped me change my life,” he said. “When I look back over the past months, it’s amazing how my life changed. It’s a direct result of the support from staff and everyone here.”

Rosecrance President and CEO Dave Gomel, Ph.D. expressed his gratitude for the impact Rosecrance makes every day at its locations throughout the Midwest.

“We’re proud to meet people where they are at,” he said. “They often come to us without hope, and that is where our incredible team steps in because we are champions of hope.”

Last year, Rosecrance served 52,000 individuals in Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin and the Rosecrance Foundation provided charity support for families to reduce financial barriers to care. Events like the Launch to Life Benefit help Rosecrance continue to meet the needs of more families who seek services and strengthen the organization to develop innovative programs to meet the behavioral health needs of communities.

Big thanks to our Health & Hope Sponsors for supporting the event and the individuals and families we serve: Cigna, Johnson & Johnson Health Care Services, BMO Wealth Management, and Orput Companies.

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