posted on May, 3 2013 @ 05:21 PM
A few years back I made a conscious decision to openly discuss my battles with psychiatric issues with the ATS community. Part of my motive for doing
this was to let other members, with similar problems, know that they are not alone - and that there is actually a member of staff ( more than one in
all honesty ) who is not only sympathetic... but is actually right there in the boat as well. But I also did it for the same major reason that I am
vocal about my problems in my real life - to help educate those who do not have psychiatric issues. We have a community here that is all about
trying to see past the propaganda and the BS, so that they can get to the hidden truth... Well the truth is that the average person knows little to
nothing of the reality of this subject. Many think that they understand it - but their advice most frequently betrays their utter lack of
The painful truth of the matter is that the average "normal" person tends to think in terms like "It's all in your head", "Mind over matter",
"Discipline will cure you", and so forth. In my real life experiences I have learned that even well intentioned "normal" people will most often
make things far worse as they engage in their attempts at making things better. Our culture teaches us that punishment and shaming will alter
behavior. So most tend to choose this approach when dealing with mental illness. Tough love... I honestly don't think it's a good thing to subject
healthy children to. I know that it's not anything that a mentally ill person can cope with.
This is the message I try, most, to convey. A message of patience and understanding. See, you cannot use logic to "change" a sick person because
their illness is not based in logic. You cannot shame a person into getting better. You cannot punish it out of a person. Attempting to do these
things will only drive a mentally ill person deeper into their illness. Compassion, patience, and acceptance are what sick people need. You
don't have to understand the behavior of a person who is mentally ill. But you should accept that they cannot help what they are going
through. It is not weakness. It is not a choice. It is not an excuse. And it is not the "easy way out" - a very common misconception. Mental illness
is Hellish, and unfathomably painful. The fact that you may not be able to relate to whatever another is going through does not imply that they can
control things the way that you might feel capable of.
That brings us to the misconception of enabling. Over the years, in my own life, and in working with other people who have problems, I have seen, time
and time again, an abuse of the word "enabling". I've seen ( and experienced ) families cutting sick people totally off, putting them out into the
streets.. and when asked why they always reply " I refuse to enable...." This singular aspect of the dynamic is the one that makes me the most
furious. It is no different than saying feeding a cancer patient is enabling their illness. Yet, because mental health is grossly misunderstood and
misrepresented in this world, people do see it as two different things. They think that if Uncle Bob has to sleep in a gutter for a few weeks... well,
by God, Uncle Bob will choose to stop hearing voices.
I've seen too many "Uncle Bobs" get kicked to the gutter and end up dead because of it. The system doesn't help the mentally ill very much. What
little help a mentally ill person is entitled to all gets cancelled once they lose their mailing address. The homeless in this country qualify for
NOTHING. It is sad to say that the "lucky" ones end up being just lucid enough to commit a crime and end up in a prison - where they then, finally,
can get access to minimal medical care, a place to sleep, and food to eat.
Does that strike anyone else as being as tragic and morally wrong as I feel it to be? That in the greatest nation in the history of the world, sick
people end up in prisons and not hospitals?
My impetus for writing today is that I've been in a dark place for several weeks running. The details aren't important and are nothing I would
publicly discuss anyway. Suffice it to say that even I, with years of living with these demons... with a family who should know, by now, how to deal
with these episodes - find myself waging the same sorts of wars that every Uncle Bob I ever met was fighting. I am lucky in that, while my body
chemistry is a total mess... my mind is strong enough to remain rational. This allows me to defend myself from misguided and destructive "help". The
cutting edge of this is that I get to live through these hellish episodes while being able to see just how irrational and dysfunctional they are. My
body chemistry destroys me emotionally and leaves me unable to function - but my mind is left, like a hostage, to watch it all happening - largely
incapable of doing much about it.
From this dark place I am filled with a need to share so that I might compel others on ATS... those with sick relatives, neighbors, friends... to
realize that those who suffer are human beings. They have souls, dreams, hopes, fears, and feelings... just like anyone else does. Their illnesses do
not define them. These are people worthy of dignity and compassion. Often simply accepting them, as they are, and affording them dignity can make all
the difference in the world. You can have an impact upon their quality of life and even help in their recovery... and all it takes is nothing more
than being considerate.
Thank you for your time.