Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mental Health Awareness Week

I was reminded today that this is Mental Health Awareness week. A good friend reminded me . ( http://smugpuppies.com/ )
I've not been blogging for quite some time and mental health is the reason why. I am one of those folks that is normally highly functioning - or appears to be. What lies behind highly functioning are choices to let parts of your life wait while carrying on with the bare basics. Everything else slips: home life, relationships, participation in activities that are normally sources of enjoyment....
I have struggled with mental illness since I was a child. Went untreated for 13 years and unmedicated for 20. I've spent the last 30 years learning all sorts of ways of coping, discarding early maladaptive behavior and peeling back the proverbial onion of self. God, I've grown to hate the onion analogy. There are always more layers and it seems like the work is never done. It's no wonder why most people don't embark on this journey willingly. Its hard and often painful work. Sometimes it seems that it is easier to be somewhat unhappy most of the time rather than have to confront those things about oneself that seem to painful to expose and bear.
Meanwhile, everyone else goes on living their lives, oblivious to the hidden suffering of those around them. Those that choose to deal with their illness and not take it out on others around them - are met with the typical 20 session per year limits for mental health visits - which when distributed between the therapist and the psychiatrist - are used up very quickly. The 32 weeks remaining in the year - mean thousands of dollars in personal expense. And people don't think we need a national health plan that would fill these gaps?
Often times the only thing between a person and harm to self or others is the therapist that is brave enough to care for them in their darkest hours. Its nor easy to help people in dark times. People with mental health issues are often abandoned by their families and friends when they are needed the most.
So - before you make jokes about prozac, or wide sweeping statements about psycho-babble, take a look around you and realize that 1 in 4 of the people you know are silently suffering with some degree of mental illness. That drugs and psycho-babble are the only things between us and complete mental breakdown - the proverbial visit to the local institution or funny farm.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for talking openly about mental illness. In Alaska it is compounded by either lack of treatment, counseling or mental health professionals who have no clue what they are doing. Even many severe mental illnesses are very treatable and people can live productive lives. I have PTSD and find my biggest handicap is simply finding appropriate treatment. I hope you feel better soon and have a happy life.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Celia,
    thank you for stopping by. I have been lucky in finding the help I need. I wish with all my heart that things fall into place for you :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. The onion analogy is indeed annoying. At some point I think I decide, "This is a level of functionality and un/happiness I'm willing to live with," and just get on with my life. Sigh.

    Thanks for talking about your personal experiences lately so candidly and vividly online. ::hugs::

    ReplyDelete