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Actor Joe Pantoliano Discloses Depression; Talks About His Latest Movie and His Sensitive Side

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Actor Joe Pantoliano reveals a personal history of depression and his belief that his mother struggled with untreated bipolar disorder, in a guest blog entry published today by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Pantoliano's entry comes during Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct. 8-13) and a few days before the opening of his latest film, CANVAS in Chicago and New York on Oct. 12. Openings will follow next week in Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles and Phoenix.

In CANVAS, Emmy-Award winner Pantoliano ("The Sopranos") stars as John Marino, whose family is rocked by the onset of schizophrenia in his wife, played by Academy Award-winner Marcia Gay Harden ("Pollock").

"It is a different kind of role for me," says Pantoliano. "I'm not a wise-guy or a rogue. As an actor, I always reveal different sides of myself...In CANVAS, John Marino shows my sensitive side. I'm a lot like him. He's a lot like me."

"Making the movie has been part of a personal journey in coming to understand mental illness. That has included coming to understand myself -and my own struggle with clinical depression."

Pantoliano disclosed his struggle with depression in an exclusive interview with PEOPLE magazine this month. On the NAMI blog, he also reflects on his family's history with mental illness in real life.

"As I became more knowledgeable about mental illnesses, their symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, I am convinced that my mother, who died 25 years ago, spent her adult life with bipolar disorder."

Thursday, Oct.11 is Bipolar Disorder Awareness Day.

"Had it been a recognized illness, one without tragic social, economic, physical consequences, and one with accurate diagnosis and attainable treatments, I am convinced that events throughout my childhood, which tore our family apart, would never have occurred. My mom would have lived out a much happier and healthier life," Pantoliano continues.

"One in five Americans are affected by mental illness. It shouldn't be a deep, dark family secret. When one person tells someone else about mental illness and its effect on them or their family, the response often surprises them. 'No kidding, me too.' Let's not be ashamed. We're all part of the same human family. We all have talent. We all have something to give."

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