Actress Lorraine Bracco opens up about dyslexia and depression


Lorraine Bracco is best known for counseling waste management consultant Tony Soprano, but she herself has struggled with depression and dyslexia since a young age. Bracco spoke at the 12th annual Adam Jeffrey Katz Memorial Lecture, hosted Thursday by the Child Mind Institute, where she recounted that she had problems with spelling, reading and math, and to this day reading scripts is a challenge. However, it was only when she got a role in the hit TV show The Sopranos that Bracco realized the severity of her conditions. “I realized when I was on an upswing that I should be doing the happy dance, but I wasn’t, and I said, ‘Well something is really wrong; this is not right,’” she told Fox News.

Bracco, who was part of the most famous tracking shot in film history in Goodfellas, decided to seek help after what she described as a bad decade and  a worse year that included a divorce, a custody battle, and her child’s illness. “I honestly say it’s the smartest thing I ever did in my whole life,” she said of the therapy and prescribed medication,” she said. “Depression is a vortex – you don’t have it, it has you.” The actress talked about the stigma that comes with dyslexia, saying she thought she was “just stupid and dumb.” “On a daily basis, especially if you have dyslexia, you are struggling, you are being told either by yourself or by others that you are not smart,” Child Mind Institute founder Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz told Fox News.

The 60 year old actress stated that she could have had more possibilities had she met someone like Koplewicz earlier, but that her battle with depression made her a “a thinker, somebody more sensitive to people’s issues.” “I’m not afraid to talk about it. It made me stronger, it made me a better person,” she said. “The most important thing is when someone like Lorraine speaks about it, it becomes real and it becomes common, and it’s hopeful because it’s treatable,” Koplewicz added. “If you’re a kid you really feel alone, and the worst thing about psychiatric illness is it eats away at your self-esteem.” Both Bracco and Koplewicz said that parents hesitate to address a child’s learning disability whereas they would be willing to cure a physical illness. “Identifying it early, getting evidence-based interventions to help kids read is not only good for our kids, it’s good for our society,” Koplewicz said.

Bracco had some final words of encouragement. “When you have a sense of humor, I think it makes you very bright,” she said. “I was never in a box, even as a kid.”

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