something out of their control
Several people in my social circle have a mental illness. Actually, I’m not allowed to talk about them because they don’t want anyone to know.
And that’s a shame.
As far as I’m concerned, there shouldn’t be a stigma associated with mental illness, just as there’s rarely one with other health issues.
But there is.
The first time I experienced the sting of this stigma was back in the 1980’s when I mentioned to a co-worker my dad had bipolar I disorder. She immediately said I needed to watch out for manifestations of it in my own mind.
Trust me—you don’t need to warn a family member about this.
I was already worried.
Years later, after my dad died, I mentioned his disorder to a woman I’d gotten to know at our children’s playgroup. Immediately she went on a diatribe about how one of her friends had inherited a bipolar illness, and one by one her friend’s siblings were diagnosed with it too.
So why would I dare to write about this now—I mean—are you going to wonder if I’ve got a mental illness?
Until those who know much about such matters are brave enough to talk openly about them, how is the general public going to learn to behave graciously towards those with a mental illness?
No, as far as I know, I don’t have one; although, I suffered with eating disorders in my late teens and early twenties. In fact, I went to extreme lengths to have myself scrutinized by three different psychiatrists—thanks to the warnings of the not so gracious.
Yeah, this is personal.
But until people see how hurtful their flippant phrases can be, it won’t be as safe for those with mental illnesses to come out of the closet as it is for someone with Diabetes etc. And because of the stigma and associated fear, there are tons of people not seeking the professional help they desperately need.
Some people self-medicate with alcohol/drugs and may eventually end up living on the streets.
Some sufferers resort to suicide because they didn’t get diagnosed and treated in time.
Sadly, if you want to get help, there’s a potential waiting period long enough to enable you to hang yourself a dozen times over before you get to your first appointment to see a specialist.
You’d be better off needing a dermatologist than a psychiatrist.
Someone I know waited almost a year to get help for anxiety and depression. But it only took a couple of months to be seen for a skin rash.
I’ll be happy when mental illness is no longer stigmatized because maybe then it will get better funding in our healthcare system.
Many of the mentally ill won’t live long enough to sop up the healthcare dollars like the rest of us will with hip, back, or whatever surgeries. Lucky for us there’s no stigma associated with our needs.
I’m a bit bitter because I want things to be better for the mentally ill.
How about you?
Do you have friends or family members with mental illnesses? Are you hoping for change, or are you one of the “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” crowd?
Should we be more concerned about our freedom to own guns than the welfare of those who may use one to end their own life?
I don’t think so.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Merciful Blessings ~ Wendy
PS – I purposely shared roses (photographed last summer) to help balance out this blog post. This is not a very uplifting topic. But those of you who care about (or for) someone with a mental illness know the pain can cut deeper than a rose thorn can.
But unconditional love given without the expectation of anything in return is more beautiful than a rose.
It’s the fragrance of grace.