Food For Thought


I happened upon this, and thought it was important to our national discussion. 

Why do more people have to die, because mental illness is still such a stigma? Even in 2015?

Why do we lose brilliant comedians like Robin Williams, now gone a year, because he couldn't tell us what he was feeling?

Why do we sell guns in so many venues? And then those guns get resold, and they end up in the hands of people who are either criminals and likely to kill someone else. Or individuals with a mental illness, who are likely to kill themselves.

What does it take to wake up the people in this country that we are dealing with a national crisis? And it is constantly being shoved aside to take care of more "suitable social issues."

How many people have to suffer in silence, because no one will understand?

Note: Over at The Women's Room, Contributor Laura Walker has written about her own family dealing with the stark reality of mental illness.

40 comments

  1. There are no easy answers.

    Sometimes people who are not mentally ill just snap one day.

    Many mentally ill people don't know they're mentally ill.

    Many mentally ill people refuse to believe they're mentally ill.

    Many mentally ill people refuse to take their medications.

    Many mentally ill people quit taking their medications once they feel better.

    Sometimes it's easier to blame your mental illness and everyone else for your problems instead of doing something constructive about your situation, even if others ARE to blame.

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    1. Yikes! A little harsh there, Ian's Girl.

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    2. Ian's Girl, everything you wrote is certainly true. But that isn't the point. The "why" of things is redundant. Because "why" doesn't fix the problem. That is for the researchers to deal with who gather the data. The problem is there is not adequate care for the mentally ill. And there is the stigma, which makes their getting help even harder. And it leads to homelessness, which is just a crying shame in my book.

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  2. I believe the reason why mental illness has such a stigma attached is because too often it is used as an excuse for bad behavior. "Oh, I did thus and so because I'm fill-in-the-blank." Those who have been hurt by people with mental illness get tired of hearing that. People want accountability, not excuses.

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    1. Yes, many criminals use it as a legal defense (well, their attorneys do that for them) and that is really sad if it is untrue. But I don't think we should throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak.

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  3. I read this with a heavy heart, Brenda. It's not my story to tell, but we recently lost a relative to suicide. I don't know the answer, but there is a shortage of in-patient treatment facilities, so many people don't get the one-on-one treatment they so desperately need, and they are prescribed a numerous medications instead. It's a bad situation.

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    1. I'm so sorry. A week or so ago, I wrote about a personal story, and one reader emailed that she didn't think I should have written it. And another wrote that they'd just lost a 19 year old girl, who jumped from a bridge. So I get different responses from different people for different reasons. But the fact remains, suicide is a permanent solution. But when you're in that dark place, it sometimes, in your skewed mind, seems like the only solution. We need better mental health care reform, because the numbers aren't going down.

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  4. When did the Government start closing down all of the inpatient treatment facilities and or hospitals around our country? Where did these folks go? Obviously there are millions walking around trying to get through their days somewhere. I really do not think we have enough mental health experts or professionals to go around and I have my doubts that the ones we have are not all that expert to begin with.

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    1. I think they maybe did that in the sixties? Those folks went to family, or the streets. They are under bridges, barely hanging on, with no medication and no address. I KNOW there are not enough mental health experts, because my ex keeps getting jobs (which he eventually gets fired from) because there are not enough psychiatrists in the US or the military. And in the military, we are losing men and women to PTSD at a pretty rapid rate.

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    2. Early 80's when Regan was president. I remember wondering what would happen to all of those people when they let them out.

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    1. Dear Tammy, I completely agree with you and know how it feels. You may be dressed nice, looking like any nice lady, but inside you may be trembling and praying that you can keep standing there and then that you can get across that street. You can't see that kind of suffering. (((Hugs)))

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  6. I totally agree. How anyone could have any experience with this illness and still be judgmental, I don't know. I understand their viewpoints and they have every right to express themselves. But when I read comments like that, my heart just sinks. Because I know we are going backward instead of forward.

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  7. My late husband suffered from PTSD (Viet Nam Veteran). It was a literal nightmare (no pun intended)! We fought the VA for years trying to get the right kind of help for him. He did get "treatment" which consisted of experimenting with various drugs, some that made him walk round and round the room for hours on end, some that made his speech so slurred that he couldn't communicate, some that made him fall asleep the minute he sat down, and on and on!! He got to the point he would wet the bed, get up and urinate in the floor, etc. It was a shame what they did to him in the name of treatment! He passed away from his 7th heart attack at the age of 52. I'm sure the stress of all the meds changes, didn't help his heart disease! I worked for the State Mental Health System for 4 years, and was burned out, and transferred to Public Health. Often those who are "giving the treatment" are as sick themselves as those needing treatment. Our state has stripped the mental health system of the financial means to provide treatment to anyone. Often those needing help don't have the insurance to go to private facilities, and now the state facilities, are practically non-existent. Our country as a whole needs to stop denying the problems, and try to do a better job of providing health care for those most in need. You are right, we ARE going backward instead of forward.

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    1. I feel so badly for the poor soldiers coming home. They don't get the help they need. They are killing themselves in tragic numbers. And yet there are not enough psychiatrists in this country to treat them. Perhaps they went to other countries, or stopped going into that field because the money isn't what it used to be. No matter. Those men and women are tormented every day of their lives, and we have NO idea what that's like. And I'm saddened every time I read about another one giving up. It's another bright light that dimmed too soon.

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    2. I remember my dad talking about his older brother coming home from WW2. He went to the army at seventeen or eighteen. He Came back and had a short fuse, so to speak. Back then...they called it "shell shocked." but seems like it was what we now call PTSD. We have lots of injured boys, girls, men and women, who served. My hubby's spine problems from so many army parachute jumps back in the seventies...probably is minor compared to those with emotional injuries. Sheila

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  8. I am sorry I offended anyone. Very, very sorry; please accept my apologies.

    I have deep, familial experience with both bipolar disorder, and paranoid schizophrenia. Neither of my cousins would take their medication.

    Well, the bipolar cousin would take it in her depressive state, but she missed the manic emotions, so she'd stop.

    My schizophrenic cousin-by-marriage you have probably heard of. He wouldn't take his meds at all. He killed several people.

    So yes, there are problems. I am quite familiar with the very worst that can happen with mental illness. Being judgmental runs both ways, doesn't it?

    The scariest thing about mental illness is that the spectrum is so broad, there are no easy answers.

    The problems often start very young, and the parents are overwhelmed. Some parents refuse to believe there's a problem and want the kids mainstreamed in with other children. Won't even consider an IEP.

    Then there are things like PTSD... what works for some, makes others worse. Some people do well with a therapist, but most men don't want to talk about it to anyone. Same way with survivors of abuse...some get over it, some never do. Some go on to be advocates for the abused, some turn in to abusers themselves.



    I do not mean to down play anyone's issues. Everyone's experience with mental illness is different.

    And I stand by my original point... there are no easy answers.

    But I'm sorry for hurting peoples feelings. That was not my intent.

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    1. You know, it takes a caring person to come back here and write that. Most would not have. We all come from our own unique experiences. I was very embarrassed by my grandmother. She irritated the living hell out of me and yet I had to share a bed with her. I treated her, I suppose, like everyone else did. Like their slave. And I will never forgive myself that, even though I was very young. Because I know she just wanted to be loved and could not help her condition. And everyone took advantage of her. Including the man who raped her and brought my mother into the world. She's dead now. But if there's one thing I could do over, I would have tried to make her life easier somehow. I'll have this guilt strapped to me for the rest of my life.

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    2. Ah, but sweet lady, your grandma wouldn't want you to be guilty! You do not need to feel guilty. You were fighting your own battles, yes? Don't dishonor her memory by clouding it with bad feelings. Give yourself the gift of forgiveness! You wouldn't want your precious grandson to carry guilt around for anything he did or thought about you, and I know your grandma doesn't either.

      I don't have the best filtering system, and I don't always realize how I am sounding online. Again, my apologies to all I offended!

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    3. I don't have the best filtering system either! Please, no worries. My grandmother was so like a child, and she really had a terrible life. I was mimicking what I saw. But she deserved so much better. No, I wouldn't want Andrew to have such feelings of guilt, you're right. A different way to look at it...

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  9. As someone who suffers with depression and PTSD, I've been guilty of using my mental illnesses as an excuse for my bad behavior, and I've hurt a lot of people in the process. When I was first diagnosed, I was all me, me, me. Very selfish. Did what I wanted. Didn't take my medication. Lacked empathy. Then, when I got in trouble, I blamed it all on mental illness. Boy, did my family and friends get tired of it, especially when I would sit on my pity pot because they wouldn't feel sorry for me. Finally, I realized my behavior wasn't working, so not only did I have to learn to deal with depression and PTSD, and take my meds as prescribed, I also had to grow up in the process. I'm still a work in progress, but my family and friends see I'm trying now and, in turn, they show me more understanding and compassion. That's what is key here. I believe once a person stops blaming their bad behavior on their mental illness as I did, that is when the stigma will dissipate. At least, that's my hope.

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    1. Well, that took real guts. Some people never come to that realization. You did. I know I've done the same. Because it was the only identity I possessed. Because it was easier than doing whatever. I'm guilty of that as well. I try very hard to help others. Because of the times in life that I turned away because it was sad or it was too much or it was unpleasant. Trying to make up for. Trying to atone. Trying to bring good to the world. Whenever you get to that place, be it 35 or 45 or 55, there's still time to turn the tide.

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    2. I agree. "Trying to atone." You put it perfectly. Even though my family and friends know my situation, and they are good to me, I can't help but feel embarrassed at times. I don't tell them I'm embarrassed because I worry they might think I'm about to climb onto my pity pot. So I just keep it to myself. To be perfectly honest, growing up and being all "mature" about my situation can be exhausting. Having to tow that thin line, you know? Either way you look at it, mental illness sucks!

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    3. Me too, Georgia. Everything you wrote. Me too.

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  10. This is a very important topic and one that more people need to be informed about. My daughter has schizophrenia and is not aware that she is delusional. She can't take responsibility because she is unaware. One of the worst things that is happening to the mentally ill is that they are being put in jail. The treatment, if any, is terrible and they get isolated, abused, tased... it's the modern day insane asylum with no compassion. I'm in a few facebook groups for parents of mentally ill and the stories you hear will make you cry.

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    1. Cindy, I can only imagine how hard it is to watch your child go through something this serious. My heart is certainly with you.

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    2. Cindy, my youngest son has the same problem. He's a paranoid schizophrenic and is totally delusional at times. He says it is everyone else that has the problem, not him and he doesn't want to take responsibility for his actions. He not only has mental issues, but quite a few health problems also. There seems to be no place for the people who do need help and you are right, they are thrown in jail most of the time and there is no proper treatment given. I find that most people won't speak out about mental illness because there are so many forms of it that it becomes difficult to understand and they are afraid. And when people are afraid, they like to throw stones at what they are afraid of in the hopes of making it go away.

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    1. Oh, Tammy. I understood your passion completely, and thank you for sharing your experiences with me. I guess my own experiences has caused me to become callous and bitter at times. I had to climb my way out of such a deep, dark hole and I had to do it all by myself because when I did ask for help from loved ones, I was accused of being weak. I was actually told by several people that I have to do this on my own. No one would go to the doctors with me, group, etc. I was on my own. Now that I'm "better," people want to come around me more. So I suppose my thinking is, if I can do it, anyone can. But like you, Tammy, I was raped. Looking back, I honestly did not think I would ever get over it. I have in a sense, but again, like you, Tammy, I haven't forgotten it.

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    2. Oh Tammy and Georgia, I am so very, very sorry. What a horrific thing to go through. I've never been raped, so I can't possibly know what it did to you, and is continuing to do to you. I cry for the women who are raped, and I cry for the women who were just innocent children when they faced such an incredibly ugly and scarring experience. I know it is something you can't possibly get past in many ways. We never know what is in someone's head or heart. Like judging a book by its cover. I admire your courage and that you felt you could share this. Of course I understand your passion in your comment. In my opinion, death is too good for the monstrous men and boys who commit rape. For they won't stop. They never stop.

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    3. You are brave and strong and have very right to be passionate, Tammy and Georgia. The purest of diamonds come out of the most unbearable pressure and filth.... stronger and yet more fragile. Breathtakingly beautiful. Don't ever let anyone take away your spirit.

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  12. many brave ladies have commented today and I want to say that I was also someone who contemplated suicide versus admitting I had an illness and getting help. Even then I didn't take the meds as prescribed for over a year in hopes I could CURE myself.

    Brenda never gave up on me , though I know for sure I was a major frustration for her:) thank you Brenda , you helped me save my own life.

    Now I take my meds as prescribed and feel better than I have in many years..
    We all need to love and support each other to the best of our ability.. You never know who's life you might help save.

    I wish healing for every single one of us .

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    1. Sonny, I was frustrated. But only because I knew that if you got the "right" meds, you could get out of the dark black hole you were in. I felt helpless. But I want you to know that you are so very dear to me, and I am so proud of you for taking the leap. I know it was very hard. You sound so much better now. Love ya!

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    2. God bless you and Brenda, real good!

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  13. It's so sad that in this day and age mental illness still has such a negative stigma attached to it. As a junior high teacher, I've seen too many parents in denial about their child's (and possibly their own) illness. Typical responses run from "I just don't want my kid to be on meds" to "I don't want my kid to carry that label all his life." Our psychologist does a great job of informing parents that teenagers will eventually try self-medicating (or worse) if treatment isn't provided.

    When are we as a country going to wise up and realize mental illness isn't just going to go away on its own? We don't expect broken bones to mend on their own and we certainly don't judge others for getting treatment for physical ailments. Hopefully we are raising the generation that will banish the stigma once and for all.

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  14. The best thing working for people who have been diagnosed with any sort of mental disorder is to take the meds as prescribed. They take days to weeks to work and going off them suddenly can bring on a withdrawal that is beyond comprehension. The doctor MUST emphasize that--not just a warning on a bottle. And if your pharmacy is out of the drug for a day or two...find a 24 hour location. So many of the violent situations we have seen on the news have the same story..."X was on medication and stopped." That can throw a person with minimal psychiatric issues into a tailspin where they literally want to crawl in a hole and die---it happened to me 20 years ago. Or to someone with major issues, cause them to harm themselves or become violent. I found I had neglected to refill an anti-depressant for four days. Perhaps have a trusted friend or family member help you keep track.

    This is just my say on the subject but I think it's a topic you could expound on, Brenda.

    Jane

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    1. And Jane, you know I will! Thank you for contributing to this conversation and reminding people that meds don't work if they're just sitting in the bottle or they run out and forget to fill them.

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  15. And then there is war induced mental illness. I just visited Laura's post and commented that I was familiar with the self medication scenario...went through that with my first husband who was a Nam Vet. Not only did he go through all of that, he died from Agent Orange cancer in the end.

    My middle son served in Iraq....there are so many of his comrades that have died from suicide after their tours / it is awful. The memories and nightmares can barely be contained by medication or whatever they use to deal ...pot, alcohol, etc. to be able to sleep at night...And then imagine going through all of that and then reading about Iraq, ISIS etc now on a daily basis to tell you that it was all in VAIN...and sorry, I have to add that to think that another BUSH is running for office after this makes me want to throw up.

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  16. Brenda, thanks for stimulating a much needed conversation. So many have poured their hearts out. There is much pain in our world. Just as has been done here we need to continue to reach out, hold someone's hand and listen.

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