MediaSnob

Trend With Truth: The Real Maia Campbell Story (Guest Post)

On Thursday all of Twitter was a buzz about a video purportedly featuring former child actress Maia Campbell in disarray. I didn’t post anything about it here because the gossip was just too mean spirited and low and I didn’t want to be a part of it, but Robin Caldwell wrote a beautiful piece for BlackWeb 2.0 on Campbell and why people should not be using this video clip to poke fun or relish in someone’s downfall, but to come to a better understanding about mental illness. Here is what Caldwell had to say.

Caldwell’s story after the jump.

By Robin Caldwell

Some days the mayhem on Twitter is funny. Today it isn’t funny to me.

Today I looked in the trending topics on Twitter and saw a familiar name, Maia Campbell, the sweet faced, beautifully locked girl from L.L. Cool J’s TV sitcom, In the House. I read hundreds of tweets but only found one kind post asking that folks stop making fun of her and pray instead. I then saw a post containing the link to a video featuring Maia on Youtube.com. I watched as much as possible and decided to tweet what I knew. Maia is schizophrenic; a fact that brought her late mother Bebe Moore Campbell and her father and step-father much anguish. Maia is a schizophrenic who won’t take her meds. Maia is a schizophrenic and unfortunately, she also has the honor of being a Twitter trending topic and #1 on Google Trends.

The number one hit with Maia’s name is a gossip blog and about 30 comments in on a line chain of comments is the one that states she is a schizophrenic.

This is why I care. My aunt was schizophrenic. She suffered through a partial lobotomy in the 60s, countless visits in and out of mental hospitals, and there were suicide attempts. Last year, Aunt Alice died at the age of 83. She was like a child; her brain locked in an infantile state partially due to the cocktail of drugs she took for the schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. Of all of my memories of her, and there are many wonderful ones, I remember seeing my once beautiful aunt become like a monster when taking those drugs. She’d either be violent like Maia in that video or she’d go into a catatonic state – drawn in and lost.

The hardest part for the mentally ill is the waiting through the side effects, which makes most feel even crazier. And when they can’t stand it, they reject the meds like Maia.

Okay, this is a tech site. Here’s the plea I’d like to make on Maia’s behalf. Trend with truth. Bloggers who are receiving lots of traffic to your sites: Adequately research Bebe Moore Campbell, Maia’s mental illness and Bebe’s last interviews regarding living with a mentally ill loved one. It’s all there on Google. Then I challenge you to report what you’ve found and tell your readers the truth.

Let me make it easy for you. Here’s a hash tag: #MaiasTruth

If you’re determined to trend the girl as a topic on the Internet, trend with the truth. Don’t perpetuate or sensationalize something that affects many African American families.

Now, let’s help some other folks out. Here are some websites providing information on schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. Retweet these, like them on Friendfeed, and post them on Facebook. In fact, email them to your friends. Use your mobiles to spread the truth in love and not a lie in mocking.

Trend with truth.

African Americans have 200% higher risk of schizophrenia than Caucasian Americans

Organized Wisdom: African Americans and Schizophrenia

PAARTNERS: Project among African Americans to Explore Risks for Schizophrenia

BlackWeb20.com covers website and application launches; culturally relevant Internet industry news; and mainstream Internet industry news from an African-American perspective.  They also analyze emerging web trends and how they apply to web properties that target African-Americans or African-American culture.

Advertisements
Standard

31 thoughts on “Trend With Truth: The Real Maia Campbell Story (Guest Post)

  1. Good Read. I was following a lot of the recklessness on Twitter yesterday as well and was highly disappointed. I felt similarly the previous night when people went nuts about Chris Brown. It seems that nowadays people are using the misfortune of others as an opportunity to gain more followers, more readers, and more subscribers. Mental illness is a very serious issue. It’s something that is not discussed enough within the black community. Incidents like this, including the public social media response, are what make it difficult for a lot of people to seek the help that they need.

  2. Althea says:

    I just saw Danielle’s post on Twitter about your article. This is heartbreaking.My mother-in-law has schizophrenia. She, and her mentally retarded daughter (now in a nursing home), have lived with us for 5 years. My MIL, fortunately, does take her meds. I won’t even get into the heartache that mental illness causes. If people knew, they would send Maia light, instead of making fun of her. AltheaLove heals all things. http://www.therawmochaangel.blogspot.com

  3. Spinster says:

    Wow. Had no idea that she suffered from mental health challenges. Thanks for the enlightening article. Mental health challenges are no joke and it’s too bad that the Black community at large either doesn’t believe in seeking help AND/OR thinks that "we just need to pray about it because it’s the devil/demons". 😐

  4. Tamara says:

    I remember reading about her years ago. I knew she suffered from some sort of mental illness. And then to read that Bebe Moore Campbell (of Brothers and Sisters one of my favorite ‘urban’ novels….not really urban but so much better than that mess), once I read she died I immediately thought of Maia.I think this should bring awareness again to that age old stigma in the AA community of ‘mental illness’. I remember Diana Ross did a film years ago, for Lifetiime or ABC or something where her character suffered from schizophrenia. Powerful story. Brought to light the disease or me.Years ago, not so many, my sister was diagnosed with bipolar and depression. I’ve been diagnosed with depression and anxiety issues and I take meds for it; as does my sister for her disease. We (the AA community) needs to continue to recognize these mental illnesses for the ‘illnesses’ that they are. Chemical imbalances in the brain is just as similar to chemical imbalances in the blood, in your stomach lining, in your gall bladder, etc. My meaning here is that these diseases are just as real and tangible as heartburn, as cancer, as the gout. Until we do realize this, we won’t be able to view a video of Maia and not feel pity for her, not feel that someone should pick up the slack and due to the line and recognize that this woman needs treatment. And this goes not only for Maia but for all of us in our communities who are suffering like this.My heart goes out to her. God bless her. God bless us all who have or have had mental issues; God bless us that we can recognize it and treat them accordingly.As for Twitter and this topic trending, well, it too saddens that bad news is most times more desireable to hear than any other.Peace and have a great Labor Day Weekend.Also, I need clarification, does Maia have children?

  5. Monica says:

    You know what Danielle, you can post the sobering statistics and some people still will not get it. It’s easier for us to believe that Maia is a just a crackhead and did she did this to herself. We don’t want to believe that mental illness is an illness. The idea of self medication is lost in translation. That’s easier to accept than Maia is being exploited and we are part of it.You know what would interesting to me. If someone found the boy that shot that clip, took that camera, bent him over, and rammed it up his ass. That would be entertaining. That pimp who Maia said was going to beat her should receive the death penalty. I would pay to watch both.

  6. Tamara says:

    @ Monica, I watched only a little of the video, with the sound off as I was at work and just couldn’t. I’m glad I didn’t hear the foolishness said; it’d make my heart bleed for her even more. *sighs sadness* I need some happy. *goes to look at TJ Holmes Photo Gallery* LOL 😉

  7. FACT….most drug abusers can be diagnosed with SOME sort of mental illness…bipolar, depression, ptsd, YOU NAME IT…Further..umm…I thought she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder/manic depression..how’d it get from bipolar to schizo??Anyway…I feel like people pick and choose who they make fun of based. No one got their panties in a bunch when people make fun of Frankie, Keyshia cole’s mom, or Bobby Brown, or David Hasselhoff…or Whitney Houston…or Dave Chappelle…..no..if you young and beautiful..you CANNOT BE MADE FUN OF..and you are not HIGH ….you are mentally disabled. HUH?Wow….Maia was in fact HIGH on that video…FOR A FACT she was high….people cannot believe someone so young and beautiful can become a regular prostituted crack head…guess what..it does happen….I have seen it FIRST HANDThere are plenty of people with mental illness that do NOT TAKE ILLEGAL DRUGS nor SELL THEIR BODIES FOR THE ILLEGAL DRUGS….the fact remains she CHOSE to use drugs. I’m sure she has help and support at her disposal, instead, like most other drub abusers..she chose THIS ROUTE to deal with her issues. While it is true that she has some sort of mental issues that pushes her toward drug abuse, I dont think its fair to ONLY care about HER Drug abuse when there are plenty of other celebs who have not gotten the attention she has for their drug abuse. My question is..why was she the chosen one to be cared about? again..is it because its hard to believe someone so beautiful can fall down so low?

  8. AS says:

    With most things in the Internet-age, Maia’s issue was placed as low hanging fruit, easily accessible on YouTube. Yeah, its sad that ‘someone so beautiful can fall down so low’, but here’s a case where 1. she’s has a confirmed mental instability 2. can’t just be said to be ‘on-drugs’ and 3. she showed up in everyone’s inbox/status/timeline and thus a dialog was started. As much as the buzz is about Maia specifically, its about the entire population of mentally or cheminically imbalanced people. My first indication if Maia’s illness came when I read BeBe Moore Campbell’s book ’72-hour Hold’. Its a touching and powerful story. Black folks tend to think those are white folks problems. Or that Caucasians use mental health as a cop-out to get high of pills. Let’s be real, when most people see a black man arguing with a street light, they automatically assume he’s either on drugs or ‘playing crazy’. They never consider that weed and malt liquor are most people’s attempts at self-medication because they do not have access to anti-depressants or do not know that there’s help for whatever symptoms they are experiencing. As unfortunately as Maia’s situation is, this is an opportunity for dialog and I hope it opens our eyes to what’s really going on around us.

  9. msladee says:

    @true2meI understand the theory you are suggesting, but I not sure if that’s totally true. Most people who know of Maia’s mental illness were fans of her mother’s books/ her show. Many have read the book Bebe based on her experience with Maia. So to see it play out in the gossip columns is even more saddening. So I think that while yes, she is beautiful (which people who didn’t know of her illness also comment on) I think people put her illness in the forefront because she has a known background with the illness which a lot of people are intimate with because of her mother’s discussion of it.Even if it is because she is beautiful, if she is a gateway to discuss mental illness and its effects in the ( very apathetic) black community, then so be it. There is no reason to simply sweep this under the rug because some may not like the example in the spotlight.. Like the author of this piece said, it is awful that she is being exploited, but if she is going to be put put there by the masses, then there needs to be substance to the discussion, not just the simple " pretty girl gone bad" motif when that’s not the case here. It may not be fair that some of those people may or may not have mental illness and never got the benefit of the doubt, but that is NOT a reason to ignore the present issues (Maia Campbell, perception of mental health in the black community, and to a larger extent, the health care debate that’s been brewing for weeks). Keeping the status quo for fun’s sake, or for fair exposure’s sake is a cop out.

  10. Wenzel Dashington says:

    If crazy asses like Mickey Rourke and Robert Downey, Jr. get to comeback from drugs, why not this girl? Casting people with Tyler Perry, Spike etc. find this woman and get her work!!

  11. cdf says:

    I was thinking about her prior to reading this report. Strange, but anyway…All this gossip, whether its about celebrities, politics, and so on is really silly in this age of digital communication. I wish her the best of luck in recovery.

  12. Monica says:

    How does one recover from manic depression. Like I said mental illness is not a concept some people will ever get. On another note, I think the beauty element is another piece of the puzzle. Beauty is fleeting and guess that’s why my great-grandmother told me it was extremely important to concentrate on learning and being a good person and not be concerned about being a great beauty. She was right.  Some beautiful women are tormented by low self-esteem and even under best circumstances, some of the most beautiful women in the world end up being exploited or used up and cast aside when their beauty begins to fade. That’s what makes women like Maia and Frankie such vulnerable targets for predators. Some people have no morals and will do anything they need to (like supply drugs) bed (or pimp) a beautiful woman.   

  13. Stella says:

    Danielle: You went on a campaign to get guardians of pretty little girls to send thier pictures in to be models (what happened with that?), how about a campaign to get Dr. Drew Pinski to help this young lady out.

  14. Brandi says:

    This is extrememly sad. I saw a small part of the video. I’m a fan of her mother’s books and remembered her from back in the day. I didn’t know she had a mental illness and bloggers just chalked if off to crack use. So, it was sad for me to see her this way just thinking it was a drug abuse problem. Her being mentally ill is even sadder. The point I’m making is even if it were "just drugs" it’s still a sad situation and the people who made fun of her should be ashamed of themselves.

  15. I think anyone who doesn’t understand what the late Bebe Moore Campbell went through with her daughter should read "72 Hour Hold". It was a difficult read because it was pretty emotional. And there are times when I was not so sympathetic to the daughter with the mental illness. She put her family through so much, even though she knew that just taking her meds would relieve their stress. And yet, I’ve worked with mentally ill adults and what they may know intellectually is not always translated. When they are on their meds most of the time its ok but they forget that its the meds that made them ok not them actually being ok. If you get what I’m saying. We, as black folk, gotta quit hiding "Uncle Ruckus" up in the attic. Y’all know what I’m talking about. Many of us have stories about our close family members who suffer from mental illness. Family members who our grandparents (or parents) took care of in silence. We need to get over the completely stupid belief that mental illness is a "white folks" disease. But this is one of the problems in our community, we turn a blind eye to issues that are really affecting our community. Rather than face them we find opportunities to lay blame on others or sin or some other ignorant crap. Can we finally begin to face issues rather than sweeping them under the rug.

  16. Merri Lee says:

    Also suffering from schizophrenia is Lisa Nicole Carlson of Ally McBeal – ClutchMag covered it a couple weeks ago. Such a sad story.

  17. I heard about the Maia trends yesterday, but I didn’t try to read or even get into them at all because I liked her alot and because gossip, especially malicious gossip, is something I try to stay away from. So, I didnt really know and still dont know all of the stuff said about her and havent seen any video. I feel just awful for the poor girl, it must be so scary and frustrating to be trapped inside of a cruel reality that no one else can share or ever really understand. I didnt know about her mental illness, but now that I do, I feel doubly glad that I did not read or share in the distribution of the negative press on her yesterday. Praying for her.ps: to the Black SNob, I have never commented on any of Ur blogs before, but I hav been following you for sometime now and I love how you blog on real issues. Mental illness has always been hidden within the black community and it is yet another thing that we need to face and be able to deal with in a very real way. Kudos Snob.

  18. Aabaakawad says:

    @ true2me"FACT….most drug abusers can be diagnosed with SOME sort of mental illness…bipolar, depression, ptsd, YOU NAME IT… The important distinction is, what came first? In the majority of MI (mentally ill) substance abusers, the abusing was a direct result of attempts to deal with the horror of uncontrolled MI. And, by definition, people with MI don’t think straight, even delusional, so self-destructive behavior, poor choices, and impulsiveness will occur.Further..umm…I thought she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder/manic depression..how’d it get from bipolar to schizo??"I am sitting with my netbook in the hosp ER with my uncle who has schizo-affective disorder (a mild form of schizophrenia), bipolar d/o, personality d/o, and learning disability. Mental d/o’s often come to people in clusters. The fact that Maia has two diagnoses is neither here nor there. My uncle may be the victim of a birth injury (hypoxia), but MI doesn’t just run in both sides of my extended family, it gallops! Mostly bipolar, but also depression, anxiety d/o, schizoid. My mom and I are bipolar, fortunately quite treatable with meds. We both lost the primes of our lives to untreated MI however. We will never be cured.The Snob (bipolar), and several of her readers are coping with MI. Nobody is to blame for their MI (except for the very rare situation of a stable person using drugs recreationally and ruining themselves), and serious MI does not go away on its own, or from the victim willing or thinking it away. Regardless of whatever Maia has done (drugs, violence, prostitution, refusing meds) as a RESULT of her illness, she deserves dignity and assisstance.Wishing you progress.

  19. Aabaakawad says:

    @ Tamara"I remember Diana Ross did a film years ago, for Lifetiime or ABC or something where her character suffered from schizophrenia. Powerful story. Brought to light the disease or me."The true-story movie was Out of Darkness(’94). Diana Ross was terrific as a doctor completely disabled by schizophrenia. Almost as good as when she played Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues (’72). Nobody does vulnerable like Ms. Ross.Wishing you progress.

  20. Robin Caldwell says:

    Hi Danielle and all. Thank you, Danielle for the reprint. One of the things I learned years ago is that our opinions are formed most by our experiences and less informed by fact. I struggled with mentioning Maia’s illness b/c it’s a private matter and because it meant I’d have to deal with a hurt I’ve managed for many years. If you’ve ever loved someone who is bipolar, schizophrenic, or who possesses any sort of mental disorder, then you know how difficult it is to not only love them but also love yourself in light of their illness. The stigmas are many in the African American community. We can own all of our crazy and dysfunction like men on the DL, teen mama drama, rappers and weed and God only knows what else we’ve turned a side eye to – like it’s normal – but we never own the fact that mental illness is a big problem in our communities. We’re not ashamed of killing one another, the drug problem, teen mothers and boys with sagging pants. Nope, we’re ashamed of the people in our lives who are mentally ill. My granddad, my aunt’s brother taught me something years ago: "Don’t be ashamed of what you cannot change." I couldn’t change her mental illness. And I couldn’t change the fact that she was MY aunt. At any rate, years ago, someone who is close to the family told me that Maia was bipolar and schizophrenia. People confuse the two and people confuse schizophrenia with Multiple Personality Disorder. And people, black people, tend to be ashamed of our loved ones who are schizophrenic more so than the ones with bipolar, because we just reckon that disorder with being a little "moody" and/or "depressed." Go figure. I never wrote that post for a response. I wrote it for responsibility. I don’t care for Frankie being exploited any more than Maia. And I sure as hell didn’t set out to exploit my aunt or family. Forgive the meandering, it’s late. Two last things: I hope and pray that the fools who shot the video and posted it, are sued b/c certainly they didn’t get her permission to use her image. I hope that something deeply personal happens to them and perhaps, they become sorrowful for their actions and repentant. And I hope they experience a backlash for that ignorance. The last thing: Thank you, Danielle. And thanks to Necole Bitchie who did the right the thing and any other blogger who saw fit to empathize and show compassion to Maia.

  21. SupernoVa says:

    I’ am deeply sadened for Bebe who spent her final years crusading to put MI in the light and educate "US" [Black People especially] on the effects that it has on an individual. Sadened because I would venture to guess that Ms. Bebe would be heart broken if she saw the state that her daughter was in now. The same public that she was bringing vital information to based on a love for her child and her people, is the same public that is now dragging her child through mud publically. Beautiful or not, this is someones child! I have gone through similar esperiences with a very illl little sister who is developmentally disabled. She was diagnosed with Lupus when she was 16. And then my mother became very ill back in 2000, and then passed suddenly in 2003. I can tell you how that can effect a child who is ill and very co-dependent on their mother. My little sister who was diagnosed with depression prior to my mothers passing has now been on crack for three years. When I looked at Maia’s eyes in the video, I could not help but see the emptyness in her eyes that I see in my little sisters eyes. I pray for her, not scorn her. But not for the grace of GOD I could be in the same place. I too, took my mothers passing extremely hard, and I’ am still grieving even now. NO, the death of a loved one is not a reason to give up. Unlike Maia I was able to see very clearly the struggles that my mother suffered over the years thus my reasons for never making any hard road that she traveled be in vein. However, I’ am [praise GOD] of sound mind, Maia was not. We should be praying for her, not judging her. Afterall, isn’t she one of us? [A sista?] Lastly, I work with many people who suffer from mental disabilities and it is more common than not for them to stop using thier meds. Also the majority of these persons have a dual diagnosis, which means that they are diagnosed not only with a mental illness but have problems with chemical dependency. It’s deeper than just being a choice, they don’t choose to be ill and often it is the illness that leads them into a life of drug abuse. Sorry but I see it to often for it to be deemed an isolated incident.

  22. SupernoVa says:

    I’ am deeply sadened for Bebe who spent her final years crusading to put MI in the light and educate "US" [Black People especially] on the effects that it has on an individual. Sadened because I would venture to guess that Ms. Bebe would be heart broken if she saw the state that her daughter was in now. The same public that she was bringing vital information to based on a love for her child and her people, is the same public that is now publically dragging her child through the mud . Beautiful or not, this is someones child! I have gone through similar experiences with a very illl little sister who is developmentally disabled. She was diagnosed with Lupus when she was 16. And then my mother became very ill back in 2000, and then passed suddenly in 2003. I can tell you how that can effect a child who is ill and very co-dependent on their mother. My little sister who was diagnosed with depression prior to my mothers passing has now been on crack for three years. When I looked at Maia’s eyes in the video, I could not help but see the same emptyness in her eyes that I now see in my little sisters eyes. I pray for her, not scorn her. But not for the grace of GOD I could be in the same place. I too, took my mothers passing extremely hard, and I’ am still grieving even now. NO, the death of a loved one is not a reason to give up. Unlike Maia I was able to see very clearly the struggles that my mother suffered over the years thus my reasons for never making any hard road that she traveled be in vein. However, I’ am [praise GOD] of sound mind, Maia was not. We should be praying for her, not judging her. Afterall, isn’t she one of us? [A sista?] Lastly, I work with many people who suffer from mental disabilities and it is more common than not for them to stop using thier meds. Also the majority of these persons have a dual diagnosis. Which means that they are diagnosed not only with a mental illness but have problems with chemical dependency as well. It’s deeper than just being a choice, they don’t choose to be ill and often it is the illness that leads them into a life of drug abuse. It is for that reason that we have systems in place that provide clinical and case management care. Which is in-part what Ms. Bebe what advocating for, [Education leads to the ability to find needed help and resources]. Maia’s situation is not an isolated incident. What is happening to her is happening to millions.

  23. bigwilligirl says:

    Ironically, I too was just thinking of Maia yesterday – wondering whatever became of this young woman since her mother died. I don’t "tweet" so I don’t know, or care about the gossipy nature of what’s being said about her. My prayers go out to her and the many others suffering with mental illness and ther families/caretakers. I’ve also worked with a population affected by this disease. I assure you – there’s nothing remotely funny about it.

  24. SupernoVa says:

    @ bigwilligirlI hear you, I don’t tweet either. I feel like if you have text msging on your cell [which most people do] then just send a text! And I tend to shy away from gossip that tears people down. I wonder sometimes why we so look forward to watching others crash and burn when we all know how humiliating it would be for us to be in the same position.

  25. MSJNT says:

    It broke my heart to see that video. It was like she was a caged animal and the camera person kept poking her with a stick. I pray that someone will go find her so she can get the help she needs. She mention going to the West Angeles church seeing Angela Basset and Magic. Where is the outreach?? I cried know that someone so beautiful and talented is out there get hurt,beaten, and ridicule. Where is our humanity? I will keep her in my prays that she will get help and recover.

  26. Annabele says:

    MSJNT, I was wondering the same thing. These celebs act as if they are so close yet when one of them are going through struggles and hard times, I rarely see them coming to each other’s defense. You find out who your true friends are then huh? All I got to say is that I am praying for Maia and for her to receive the help that she so desperately needs. She is so vulnerable and sick. She does need God.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s