Friday, December 30, 2005


TAC Newsletter 12/30/05


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Friday, December 30, 2005


THE OREGONIAN, January 23, 2004

[Editor’s Note: Our New Year’s wish: that our treatments, programs, and laws for
the care of people with severe mental disorders shall improve to the point where
those afflicted must no longer fear being psychotic, homeless, imprisoned and
victimized, and can instead become fixated on more mundane affairs – such as the
opinion of one Simon Cowell.]


By Michelle Roberts

"American Idol" judge Simon Cowell is known for being critical and blunt, but
never tongue-tied.

Yet that's how a Southwest Portland woman says she left Cowell when she
auditioned for the hit Fox reality show last fall in Hollywood, Calif.

Tracy Moore, 22, said she walked into a room in the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel
in September and told Cowell that she suffers from a mental illness.

"They asked me what I wanted to do with my life," said Moore, who beat more than
10,000 other pop-star hopefuls for a chance to audition for the show's celebrity
judges. "I think they expected me to say I want to be a famous recording artist.
I told them I want to start a foundation for schizophrenics."

Moore said Cowell, famous for his scathing critiques that frequently reduce
"American Idol" contestants to tears, was briefly stunned.

"Simon just blinked and said, 'What?' " Moore said, mimicking Cowell's British
accent. "I told him, 'I'm a schizophrenic.'

"It was the first time I've ever seen him speechless."

Moore, who discovered her voice while performing in musicals at Wilson High
School, always thought her talent would make her rich and famous.

But while attending Musictech College in Minneapolis, a school for performing
artists, Moore gradually began to withdraw into a world of delusions.

"I would go to school and act bizarre," she said. "I'd start thinking weird
things and not know what the truth was. I'd talk to people who weren't there."

Once, she spent an entire day walking in a circle, convinced that was the only
way to stop aliens from entering her body. She wore sandals in the snow.

Moore said her classmates were wary of her. "They didn't want to be my friend,
but they were civil," she said. "They still wanted me to sing in their bands."

During her third term at Musictech, Moore said she called home and asked her
mother to sit down. "I told her, 'I'm insane.' "

But even that insight quickly disappeared. "As my symptoms got worse, I lost my
awareness of the illness," Moore said. "After a while, I didn't know I was
crazy. You couldn't convince me that Earth wasn't being threatened by aliens."

After a hospitalization in Minnesota, Moore's parents, computer network
engineers Pam and Don Moore, moved their daughter home to Portland, where a
psychiatrist diagnosed her with schizophrenia, a chronic and debilitating mental
illness marked by psychosis, delusions and disordered thinking.

The woman who once dreamed of seeing her name in lights had to struggle to hold
down minimum-wage jobs. She says she was fired from nearly "every fast-food job
in the state." At times, Moore was afraid she'd lost not only her mind, but her
future, too. "I was really scared of what was going to become of me," she said.

There's often no cure for the illness, but by working closely with a doctor and
other mental health professionals, some people can successfully manage their

Moore's doctor experimented with several medications but found that one of the
newest medications available to treat schizophrenia, Abilify , helped mute most
of her symptoms and let her think more clearly than she had in years. Last
summer, after six weeks on the drug, Moore said she began to believe it wasn't
unreasonable to dream, once again, of a music career.

In late July, Moore talked a friend into driving her 16 hours to the Rose Bowl
in Pasadena, Calif., where she waited in line for three days for a chance to
audition for "American Idol."

Moore's waist-length hair, dyed electric blue, helped her stand out from the
throng of auditioners lined up outside the stadium.

On Aug. 1, her 22nd birthday, Moore was selected from the crowd to sing on "Good
Morning America." Later that day, Moore made the first cut when just 250
contestants -- out of the original 10,000 who showed up at the Los Angeles
tryouts -- were selected to go on to the next round.

On Aug. 4, Moore belted out Melissa Etheridge's song "I'm the Only One," for six
Fox producers responsible for paring the list of finalists down to 50.

Moore said it felt as though her heart would leap from her chest as each judge
cast their vote.







On Sept. 7, Moore found herself face to face with Cowell and fellow judge Randy
Jackson, a Grammy Award-winning producer.

After throwing Cowell off guard, Moore launched into her song.

Cowell and Jackson let Moore sing most of the song before Cowell signaled her to

"Not good enough," she remembers him saying dismissively.

Jackson wasn't so sure, "He said, 'Um, Um. Uh. I don't know. I think I'm going
to say no,' " Moore recalled.

The third celebrity judge, 1980s pop star Paula Abdul, wasn't present because
she was ill.

Moore said she politely thanked the judges and turned to walk out as Simon gave
her the biggest compliment Moore has ever heard him give: "Not good enough," she
remembers him saying. "But you can sing."

The rejection stung. For weeks after the audition, Moore would cop a British
accent and sniff, "This supper's not good enough!" or "These pants aren't good

But Moore always comes back to what Cowell said on her way out of the audition
room. "He said I can sing!"

Moore is unsure whether she will try out again next year. But she said it was
one of the most important experiences in her life.

"I really put myself out there, even after everything I've been through," she
said. "That was a huge accomplishment in and of itself."

Sure, a record deal would be nice, Moore says. But she also suspects she may
have a more important calling. She recently enrolled at Portland Community
College and is taking classes to become a mental health and addictions

If Moore could choose between superstardom or helping others who've struggled,
the choice would be clear. "I don't know what my future holds," she said. "But I
know that helping others will give my life the most meaning."


Treatment Advocacy Center E-NEWS is a publication of the Treatment Advocacy

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