Today’s post is going to be a little different. I won’t be doing a Memorial Day weekend recap or posting any pictures of sweet Julia in yesterday’s red white and blue outfit. You’ll have to trust that she looked adorable.
The last couple of weeks I have been trying to help someone who is close to me in their struggle with mental illness– their journey came to a head right before the holiday weekend. I want to protect their privacy so I am offering up no identifying details. But the fact that mental illness is such a secretive, private journey makes me profoundly sad. Not because I want to gossip aboutthis person’s illness, not because I want material for my blog in order to up my traffic but because sufferers of mental illness often feel so isolated, so alone. Because of the stigma associated with their affliction their circle of people ‘in the know’ tends to be a small one. These intensely vulnerable and fragile people could use huge circles of support– and their weary close friends and family members also could also use the help! Additionally there is a profound shortage of medical help for the mentally ill. The reason that the crisis I was tangentially involved in stretched out for weeks is because the wait to see any psychiatrist/psychologist or therapist stretched out for weeks (unless you could prove an imminent danger). Sadly without that medical help, things moved enough in that horrible direction that a hospitalization proved necessary. And that process was an ordeal that involved a four hour intake process– torture for someone in crisis ( and plenty of time for them to change their mind about getting aid). I compare that to my pregnancy/ birth story where I never waited more than a minute at any of my check ups or appointments, I was constantly being congratulated by staff, constantly receiving gifts from both the medical staff and from EVERYONE in my life. People brought food. It was amazing. Someone who has the courage to fight the bad luck of their brain chemistry deserves a HUGE congratulations. Their exhausted family deserves a casserole as trust me they have put their lives on hold to tend this illness. I don’t know how to get the necessary cultural shift to happen. Too many people view mental illness ( and the bad behavior that goes along with it) as a choice. Truly it is no more a choice than cancer or heart disease. And like those illnesses sometimes even taking the prescribed medications, the person can get worse. We all (including myself) need to step up our compassion game.
The good news is that the situation I have been involved in has stabilized. Everyone involved feels optimistic and hopeful.