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Local Author Strives to Dispel Myths of Mental Illness

In Where are the Cocoa Puffs?, Winters Schwartz uses multiple points of view. The reader is able to get into the heads of all the major players of this novel, depicting in a very real way how each person - mother, father, sibling, extended family, boyfriend and Amanda - deals with this diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

In her attempt to decrease stigma with the power of pen, Winters Schwartz has written editorials, essays, and novels, and also posts regularly on her blog. She has had two articles published recently in the Syracuse Post-Standard. In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Week, she was a guest columnist of "Why don't we treat mental illnesses like physical illnesses?" and on July 28, her story was published as an End Note in the Post-Standard's "Healthy CNY" supplement.

Feedback from the professional community has been tremendous for Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?:

E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., author of Surviving Schizophrenia and Surviving Manic Depression had this to say: "Where Are the Cocoa Puffs? is an engaging family story of what happens when the eighteen-year-old daughter develops bipolar disorder. It is very well written and accurately reflects the effects of this disorder on all members of the family. Strongly recommended."

Michael J. Fitzpatrick, MSW, Executive Director of NAMI National said: "Where Are the Cocoa Puffs? is a coming of age story. It provides an authentic look at a teenager, her family, and friends who struggle to come to terms with the onset of her mental illness and to find a bal ance between hope and acceptance. Read it for its own sake. Read it to learn. It speaks to many truths."

Other early praise includes:

"Welcome to the world of mental illness. This emotionally raw novel pulls you into the belly of the beast - in this case, into the chaos of the Benson family, where survival and sanity hang by a thread. There is no escape; it feels like you are part of the family. Ultimately, this is a love story. It's about the love that binds a family together in the midst of dealing with everything that threatens to pull them apart. Very highly recommended!"

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