Let’s Talk About Mental Heath
I think today is a good day to talk about mental illness. Specifically the stigma of mental illness.
First I’ll tell you about me – I for one, am no longer working. I have left my job. Before quitting I attempted to go on short term disability but was turned down because I’m just not that sick (see my post about my mental health diagnosis). Now, I do not believe that I am that sick and that I am battling mental illness. But, I think I could be at risk, given the lat 2 years of my life. And, I have had some pretty low times right after a miscarriage, which I’m sure would be classified as some sort of depression, but, I always pull myself out of it. And, knowing I’m at risk as I’m dealing with each miscarriage, I have sought help. I asked my doctor for help when I realized how stressed out I was and he set me up with an amazing counselor. I trust her and I know I can call her tomorrow if I need to. I am utilizing all the medical resources available to me to ensure my adjustment disorder doesn’t turn into something else.
But, I believe that others are suffering and are not getting the help they need. I blame society. I blame all of us. We are all guilty. We all suck.
We are not doing enough to help people who are suffering with their own internal demons.
Here are a few examples:
My first example is someone in my husband’s family. He is in his 60s. From my husband’s childhood memories and more recent tidbits we hear from family members, we have pieced together that at some points this individual lived with his parents as a grown adult for years at a time because he “wasn’t feeling well”; he has never been able to hold down a job due to his problems; he is a hoarder; he has seen psychologists; we think he’s been medicated at times, etc. Again, we have no idea what the real problem and we have no details on any diagnosis. For his entire life, his family has enabled him to carry these demons and not address them – his parents bought and paid for his home, his parents paid for and now their estate is paying all his bills, the siblings are cleaning out his home for the second time in about 5 years. Now, there are plenty of highly qualified mental health experts out there, why isn’t he seeing anyone regularly? Why doesn’t he have a team of doctors working with him to help him? Imagine what his life could have been and still could be, if he received proper treatment? Instead the family is so scared to admit the truth about the situation. They are too embarrassed to seek help and admit that someone in the family suffers from mental health issues. And so the people he needed the most, who should have known better, have let him down. And continue to let him down.
Another example is my step-brother. I have no idea what all he has been diagnosed with. I’ve been told, or rather have over-heard and put pieces together multiple conversations to determine that he has OCD and depression. He also has addiction issues – I’m not sure which feeds which, nor does it really matter. And, I’m not sure if this is the complete list of ailments. The big difference between my first example and him, is that my parents have worked to provide him medical support, and likely will continue to. I suspect they work hard not to enable him, but have in the past and likely will in the future got him into addictions treatments and treatment with various mental health experts. But, I don’t really know. I do not know details about his diagnosis or his prognosis. So, my point is that I, one of his immediate family members doesn’t know what is actually wrong with him. Why don’t we talk about this stuff??
Why won’t we address mental health problems and work to assist the people who are dealing with them? Why do we let this category of horrible diseases silently affect people? If we won’t even talk about it openly, then how are we supposed to help the person suffering? How can we expect them to seek treatment when they must lurk in dark corners and hid their issues from society?
My question today is why are we doing this? We are we, in a modern society (Canada) allowing mental health issues to destroy lives? We have the ability to help these individuals, why aren’t we taking the responsible steps to help? I understand the need for privacy, but if either of the individuals had an “acceptable” disease like diabetes or cancer or colitis, we would both discuss the problem and medical prognosis and we would help them! We would do anything to help them! Heck, I’m living proof that our medical system even provide mental health support to people going through miscarriages, so why can’t we provide support to others in need (note that I sought out help because I recognized that I might need some help to develop effective coping strategies)? Modern medicine can help! So why are we, as in our society, living behind a vale of silence? Why are we accepting this? When are we doing to change? How many more lives need to be lost to the stigma of mental illness before we start to provide adequate care to those in need.
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