I remember a commercial from many years ago. In an effort to raise awareness about mental health, a television spot was developed. The scene opens to a woman in her forties, I’ll guess. She has one line. “hello, I’m mentally ill.” I believe that it was a thirty second spot and so they filled in the remaining time talking about the issue.
I have been sick for a long while. I mainly think of myself that way when I have been in the black for an extended period of time and am in need of assistance. I have also thought a lot about it during most of my ummmmm, eleven or twelve stays in a psych ward. As an aside here I’d like to say that other than keeping me from harm, such incarcerations usually aren’t particularly helpful. I’ll leave that for another post.
My issue here is what and how I think about how people present being “mentally ill”. It makes me feel kind of slimy, dirty.. The taste of sweat and a little grit in my teeth. It feels like I’m imposing in “clean, immaculate healthy” people space. I see myself as a feeble homeless man who begs for food. Those people who think that they are “normal” are the ones that want to think that I am a moron. A person incapable of a lucid thought. Someone who couldn’t possibly have the brain power to hold a ‘real’ job.
It maybe time to hire a PR firm and task them with coming up with an acronym or better, a phrase besides “mentally ill”. There have been attempts, I know. Challenged comes to mind. I guess that the challenge would be to figure out a way to put up with ignorance in the community at large. In much of the public eye, I think that there is a tendancy to lump everything to do with people’s minds into “mental illness”. Depression, schizophrenia, paranoia, bipolar disorder and a thousand other things are unique. Symptoms, severity of symptoms, treatments etc all differ. Just as with physical ailments. But no one really even cares. At least as long as they don’t have it.
I have an IQ of over 100, the so-called normal range. Why is it then that people act like they have to speak slowly and with small words when they find that I’m mentally sick. Sick in the head. Can’t you just see the look on the face of the person who says that? Pointing their finger at their own head while nodding in knowing affirmation that “everybody knows what that means”.
Physical ailments that people are afflicted with evoke sympathy from people. Many physical illnesses have visible traits. Even those that are invisible are generally accepted as normal. The media doesn’t come on and say “a 40 year old who neighbors say has cancer just shot up the liquor store tonight.” Doesn’t make any sense, right? Substitute depressed, mentally ill, or any word or phrase that deals with mental sickness and the press is on it! Everyone has seen the movie where the killer is psychotic. They would make it seem that every person with a psychosis is dangerous. Or every person depressed is ready to take everyone near them to their death. After all, depressed people are all suicidal, common knowledge, right?
People fear mental illness. Depressed people, probably the largest portion of the mentally ill population, are at risk of suicide. They are sad, they cry a lot and many don’t get better. I remember what desire was like and sex used to be a great release of tension. Many antidepressants cause impotence. I’d give my left nut to know what premature ejaculation feels like. Now I’m the 60 year old virgin. I’m not even any good for myself, let alone my wife. I hate depression for what it does to the people around me.