Tag Archives: stigma

Mental Illness Doesn’t Discriminate, but People Do

I just left a group I had recently joined, under the impression that people who were intent on erasing the stigma of mental illness would be, well, more open-minded. I am a somewhat naive person in some respects; I will admit that. Possibly because I’m hopeful. Possibly because I’m gullible, to an extent, and I want to believe the best of people. Especially ones trying to erase the shame associated with mental illness because, after all, it’s not something a person can help.

I was surprised, then, to find a posting after the shooting at the recruitment centers, describing the shooter as having an “extremist personality” and one of the women who’s daughter had bi-polar saying, “her daughter didn’t act that way.” I was furious. And very disappointed.

I responded that if the young man hadn’t been Muslim, this wouldn’t even be a topic of conversation, and apparently the idea of mental illness being a stigma was based on race and religion, not the reality of mental illness, which doesn’t tend to pay attention to those lines. It doesn’t discriminate. And as for the woman whose bi-polar daughter not acting that way, I said knowing one person with mental illness is knowing one person with mental illness. If we were all the same, one pill would magically cure all of us and yay, the world would be a happier place. But it doesn’t work that way. We are all individual chemical factories with unique brain chemistries and genetic predispositions. That’s why there are so many drugs out there that don’t work for so many different people, or cause paradoxical reactions (the complete opposite of what they’re intended to do).

I said I didn’t want to be associated with people claiming to want to erase the stigma of mental illness, selectively. What do they think society is doing to them? Exactly what they were doing and patting themselves on the back for. Oh yes, “Extremist Personality,” my therapist pointed out, isn’t in the DSM. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, which is what the United States uses to diagnose people. I should note the DSM-V has been highly criticized. Which doesn’t have anything to do with this. I asked how do they expect to change things when they are being so close-minded themselves?

But what do you do when the people claiming to try to make things better for people with mental illness, and I should add that at that point, it was only a few people who were agreeing with this anti-Muslim sentiment, hardly the whole group, are spouting the sort of nonsense that some people do against any person with mental illness, that keeps the stigma alive? I should have not left the group in a huff, I should have seen if what I said actually made a difference. I was hasty, but I doubt what I said made a difference. Because people’s beliefs are ingrained, and that’s the sad thing. “We don’t want our children with mental illness to be stigmatized, but if you happen to belong to a religious group we normally label as terrorists, don’t expect any sympathy?”

We need a lot more love, and a lot less hate.

p.s. I realized I should add an addendum here. I met some really great people in the group, and I hope they know who they are, because I still communicate with them, and I really admire them and what they are doing, so it isn’t as if the experience was a loss–hardly. I learned a lot about schizophrenia, as well, which I didn’t know much about. It was this one exchange that upset me.

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A look behind the scenes of the dysfunctional Mental Health System

Reblogged from takingthemaskoff.com

This is an excellent post on one scenario of how two people, simply due to the circumstances of their birth, end up on two separate paths. I know that sounds trite and like every other story, but please read this one

A look behind the scenes of the dysfunctional Mental Health System.
A look behind the scenes of the dysfunctional Mental Health System
November 30, 2014 125 Comments

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“You know in this hotel room they have food every day and I knock on the door. Every day they open tha door to let me see the party, let me see that they throwin’ salami, throwin’ food around telling me there’s no food. Every day. I’m standing outside tryin to sing my way in- “We are weak, please let us in. We’re weak, please let us in.” After about a week that song is gonna change to, “We’re hungry, we need some food.” After two, three weeks it’s like “Give me some of that food! I’m breakin down that door.” After a year it’s like, “I’m pickin’ the lock, comin’ through the door blastin.” It’s like, “I’m hungry”

– Tupac Shakur

It is my hope that we have a silent army building. The revolution will not be televised. But I see the replies I get, and it gives me hope.

I saw an article in the New York Times basically saying there would be less shootings if the mentally ill had less privacy and were more easily forced to be hospitalized. This is the New York Times! Who are the sick ones?

I’m going to tell a story. 2 stories, of 2 different people. They are both true stories. Then you can see how this all begins and becomes a problem. I’ll go back and forth between the stories until their paths meet.

Here’s Dusty, I don’t know, age 3 to 5. Happy kid, plenty of love. Just loves everyone and loves the world. He doesn’t see color, sex, religion. He has nokind of discrimination, all he sees is love.

Here’s the second story. This is my cousin Donald. The man he is with is my father. Donald also loves the world, he sees no race, sex, and discriminates against no one. He is a very loving and giving kid.

Dusty gets older. He still loves everyone and everything. However, Dusty grew up in a home that was infested with cockroaches, and had been condemned 2 to 3 times. There was about 7 or 8 kids living there, they had no food. Dusty was the kindest of the group. He got beaten by his brothers, picked on, and thrown around. He was told “You are a loser, give me your money, do my work.” He did not understand, he gave whatever he had to others.

When I met Dusty he was about 8 or 9 years old. He had 4 brothers and sisters, they all smoked pot, drank, and never went to school. Everyone walked around this place with almost no clothes. They had only 2 bedrooms. The house was full of smoke.

Cockroaches were all over. They had no shower, and a bathroom with only a curtain covering it. The old guys would come around drinking, smoking weed, and getting physical. The older kids were getting worse also.

There was something special about Dusty, his heart. He was born with an amazing heart. He loved everyone, and gave all he had. To tell you of this kids strength, words won’t do it justice. As a 9 year old, he was growing up in a house in which every adult was punching, smoking weed, drinking, and stealing. Also, the gangsters knew where the weed was. THE house, that’s where they were. But Dusty, at age 9, he refused to smoke weed or drink or do any of that. However, being sweet and sensitive, he was an easy target. He did not stop loving though, he still loved them all. He saw through it, through everything, even as a kid. So what happens when you are extra sensitive, caring, and loving? You get pushed down, forced to create a mask, his was the goofy guy. This is the same house where I met Joe. Dusty and Joe were cousins and best friends.

Here is Donald. He is my cousin. He was a great kid. His father was a doctor in a small town, he made lots and lots of money. That doesn’t make Donald bad, and he is not bad. In fact, he’s a wonderful human being. I know this story puts him in privileged category. But, that is not his fault, he is still a caring, kind, and considerate human being. His father, my uncle, was once in jail for stealing cars and grew up to be a doctor. The thing about Donald was, he was born gifted, and extremely smart. He was above the genius level. He may have skipped a grade, I can’t remember. He was and is not a bad person.

However, while Dusty was seeing what he saw, Donald was going on trips, and getting the best life had to offer. He worried for nothing, he could be a kId and thrive.

Thrive he did. He is a talented, smart, and funny guy that had charisma. He didn’t have to worry about gangsters, getting food, getting raped, or having mice and cockroaches sleep on him. He had a huge bedroom, went on vacations, had all he ever wanted. He had great parents. Now another thing I noticed about Donald was that when I went to spend 2 weeks with him when I was 12, was that in this small town everyone drank, and did drugs, at age 12. Which is common for a small town. They were 12 and flung this. All of his friends.

One time we went to his friends house, the kid was sleeping and the kid woke up, and lifted his pillow and there was jack daniels. They all smoked and drank, except Donald. His parents taught him this.

Dusty did it on strength of character. Donald friends said “man your dad is always getting thanked in the paper.” That was true, small town legend.

Donald’s pressure was to follow his father, and that is a different kind of pressure. One that is often not considered a problem, the gifted child.

However, that is just as hard as raising a troubled child. People don’t want to hear that, but it’s true. What they both had in common was they were gifted.

Dusty then ended up going away for a while after missing so much school. His brothers would go just enough to not get sent away. Dusty was the extra sensitive one, he didn’t care. Me and Dusty and Joe had a bond, we all loved each other and saw behind each other’s masks. One time, on the phone, Dusty had called his mom and said, “tell mike I lo, well never mind,” he wanted to tell me he loved me, but he was afraid. I stopped hanging out there.

That’s another story, this isn’t about me. Dusty eventually surrendered and started using drugs. Then, they had a guy from Arizona living at the drug house, his name was Carl. He had packages of drugs delivered to the house all the time. The police got involved, and a sting was set up. So the package is delivered, they all have Dusty answer because he is kind and wants to help. So he always does, and he did on this case as well.

Well, he signed, and he gets arrested, and now he has a felony. They knew it was not him, he gets interrogated, and interrogated. Does he give Carl up?, nope, never. This was when Dusty was 19. That’s his booking photo. He went to jail, then he just got off probation recently.

This is someone you may see in jail, or at the shelter, or with the dirty clothes. That’s what you see, but this is what you’re missing when you make that judgement. These are the kids that come into our neighborhood, come to school, to church. We say get them out, those dirty kids with no manners. We don’t want to look at them, it’s like clutter in our clean house. We don’t want to deal with it, we want to pretend it’s not there. Then we may have to do something. So we ignore them and label them and call them losers or dirtbags. That’s much easier, isn’t it?

But that is how we all are part of the problem and we ask are co responsible for the inequality. You see these kids, these people, and no action is am action. Silence is consent.

Here’s Donald at age 19. He had a child. Now that’s a disaster if he’s in Dusty’s situation. However, Donald had great supports in place. His mom and dad helped the teenagers adjust, made sure everything was taken care of.

Donald was able to go to school and while Dusty was in jail, Donald was excelling. He finished college in 3 years and went on to medical school and finished. He’s a doctor. Now again, he’s not bad, not a superstar yet, I don’t think.

He is now starting to isolate, he is on a different level than others and he gets told that alot. So he believes it, so does his wife. So now the good doctor moves and starts dominating the medical profession.

They told me his iq is 156. I’m sure they told him too. He then joined the army like his father and got lots of medals and accolades.

Which is not bad. This is simply to show how we start to label and separate.

Here is Dusty taking care of his dying mother. He gets out of jail, meets a girl, and they have kids. He didn’t know how to have a relationship, he is on his own with no college, no skills, no understanding of life. Just love.

Then you have Donald with his 500 thousand dollar house that got egged.

How do I know this? Well his wife posted on Facebook that someone egged their 500 thousand dollar house but she wasn’t worried because they had security cameras all over the house. You know, to keep the “bad criminals out.”

Like clutter, she didn’t want to see that.

I also saw her post once that she was very upset with the mayor in the town they live in because he allowed a Wal-Mart to be built by their house. Her quote was “who else has to look out their 500 thousand dollar house and see a Wal-Mart, someone needs to stop this guy, do not vote for him.”

See as the separation is almost complete. What did dusty do to be placed below donald?

Nothing. But we see them each walking down the street and we treat them differently. That’s how we all contribute.

Dusty getting older, he split with his kids mom. He suffers from depression, severe depression. He feels rejected all the time, he smokes weed to forget, to not be himself.

He talks about suicide all the time. He misses Joe more than anyone. His heart is broken. Dusty and Joe spent all their time together. They even moved 2 blocks down from me for 2 years. I would drive by and wave. Really? Yes. I was no better than Donald. Even worse, because I drive by, and we still talked from time to time, but I was trying to get my life together. I could have said hi.

The doctor and his family. Now this is not an attack in Donald at all. It is about how we create separation. He worked hard, he’s caring, and he is a good man. He just started to believe he was different and better. He got told lies.

Lies we all believe, like, you need this huge house, cars, medals, and everyone to see how awesome you are.

So he fell in the trap. Here we are, the “look at us” photo.

You know how the native americans defined mental illness? They said anyone who lives in excess of what they need is mentally ill.

The doctors wife at the ritz.

Dusty and his kid at the laundromat.

The doctor and his boat.

Dusty at the playground. Having fun.

The doctors daughter with one of her trophies, she had special tennis lessons, beauty pageants, and she going to Oxford college on scholarship.

Same thing as Donald, smart talented kid. No fault of her own, the cycle continues. She is being brainwashed like he was.

He had a mask on as well. Still does.

Dusty being a dad and loving. He never knew life would be so hard when all he wanted to do was love.

The doctor is now continuing to serve and get accolades. To bad it’s all a lie.

Now this part is not real, but an example of what would likely happen from what I’ve seen in my years being in both worlds……

Now what happens if Dusty walks into Dr. Donalds office? How in the world can the doctor understand what Dusty is saying. Dusty says “Life isn’t worth living, I need to smoke weed.”

The doctors response is usually, “He just doesn’t care, he doesn’t want to work, he wants disability.” The thought process I’ve seen a million times. All the time, it’s the rule, not the exception.

So, let’s say Dusty had attempted suicide 2 times, and keeps coming back. He has to in order to get benefits and to get housing for himself.

The doctor is frustrated, in his mind he’s trying hard. That’s what life is, you just don’t behave like that in his opinion. In his world, you get up, work hard, and get it done. He can’t understand why Dusty complains that no medications work, yet continues to use drugs, and goes to the hospital.

He thinks Dusty has children, and he’s not taking care of them, he’s a “Predator” or a “Manipulator” or “Gamey.”

This is when I hear things like, why do they get free healthcare and we don’t. Almost a resentment at the patients. This is something that I see daily. The caring staff keep their mouths shut in fear.

So now Dusty has to be forced to take meds. He doesn’t get it, we have to help him. So we will put him on meds, and we aren’t going to listen to his side effects stories. We are going to force injections if he doesn’t comply with orders.

He can’t take care of himself. We have to in the doctors opinions.

Oh and, let’s charge insurance about 1500 dollars a day to do this. If the drugs give him diabetes, that’s too bad because he needs to be safe.

Good job young doctor, you’re saving the world.

Now Dusty has not been without weed for years, so asking him to stop is asking him to feel all these feelings that he has never felt before. Forcing him to take his mask off without support. The feelings he had been told to block his whole life, the feelings that have made him an outsider and not accepted.

Then give him a med that makes him feel no better for at least 6 weeks. Then it might not be the right medication, so we may have to start all over.

He will have side effects like drooling, sedation, diarrhea, and tremors. That occurs right away. Plus feeling all these emotions. Then when he sleeps too much we say that he is lazy, or non compliant with his treatment.

So we force him out of bed, and we make him go to groups with someone explaining all these “skills” he needs to use. Then he can’t participate due to the meds, the side effects, being off drugs his brain had coffee to rely on, and now having to freak with all these suppressed emotions.

So he is said to be non interested. So we need to give him more medications.

Of course we do.

Now he’s angry. No one listens, he’s sensitive, but he has had enough. He explodes from this and other patient’s likely taking advantage of him, and staff telling him when he can shower, piss, and treat him like a criminal.

Because, we say, look at his record, he is a felon. No one asks why or what happened, and they won’t believe him anyways, he’s a “manipulator.”

True story…

We had a young man admitted to our place the other day. I’ll call him “kev.” Abused age 1 to 3. A ward off the state at age 3. Picture a 3 year old being abused and taken from home, then a 3 year old in a privileged home, they’re is no difference, why do we seem to think as adults that there is? He was in foster homes his whole life, sexually abused, and beaten.Then at age 19 he committed an armed robbery, and he was shot 3 times. Then he Went to max security prison for 7 years. In prison, he cuts himself enough to need surgery, he has been known to swallow glass, and toothbrushes requiring surgery.

The assessment by “the team.” Is that he is “smooth, and manipulative.” He swallowed these things to get to go to hospital, a trip out of jail.

This is dangerous to call him manipulative. If I think you are manipulative then everything you do I take as a con. If we instead think of him as this kid who has a desparate need for acceptance and love, you will treat him differently. Then he will react differently. Then he gets better treatment. Our staff are young, impressionable, and eager to learn about psychiatry since it is romanticized on the media at times.

However if you work in government, they need to save the taxpayers money, they don’t want us spending “their” money. We have to hire inexperienced staff, because they are cheaper. We train them by what they see. The cycle continues.

So why would someone like Dusty shoot his doctor? It’s not so black and white if you look deep enough.

What’s the difference between…

This 19 year old young dad.

And this…

This young dad? (This is Joe and Anthony from last post)

The answer is nothing. Until we divide them. When we divide, we create class, uppers and lowers. When really we are all connected.

It won’t end. It can’t. Until people start fighting back. The battle is not going to be easy, we won’t see the end. We won’t see the victory. That will come after we’re gone.

But there is going to be a fight, we know that there is going to be a fight because we are going to start it. We will lose some, as we lost Joe. We won’t stop. Love always wins. Always.

If I’ve made you mad, then I’ve done my job. Happy people don’t create change. You have to be angry, you must have discontent to create change. So be angry. Then do something about it.

If 1 person reading this gets 1 thing and does something, that’s perfect. The ripple effect will be huge.

Love you Dusty.

The end.

If you want to see this in video.
Here it is..10 minutes I think.

 

The Way Media Portrays Mental Illness Prolongs Stigma

So it has happened again, unfortunately. Another shooting at Ft. Hood. I am deeply sorry to the families of everyone involved. Everyone.

The first thing the military does is pull their trump card. He was being treated for depression and anxiety, and according to one source, other mental health issues. Another source came right out and said it, that he was being tested for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after spending time in Iraq. At least someone named something a straight line could be drawn to from the military. Of course, he had not yet been diagnosed, but it wouldn’t have surprised me if he did have PTSD. The number of troops coming home with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, among other things, is high.

But, the military quickly rebuts, he had depression and anxiety. If Lt. Gen. Mark Milley of Ft. Hood was aware of just how many people do have that diagnosis, he might think (at least to himself) again before pointing the finger at mental illness. Was the soldier who committed the shooting, who was in Iraq but supposedly saw no action, yet who thought he had a traumatic brain injury, put in one of the Army Wounded Transition Units upon his return? His TBI was self-diagnosed, and granted I have more experience with this kind of thing, but I would have thought his self-diagnosis of a TBI was his way, the only way, he knew how to say he was having mental problems without “stigmatizing” himself. Being wounded is one thing, confessing to mental problems is another, one that the military doesn’t deal very well with, but they’re going to have to, because of the number of military personnel having these issues.

And one thing that is never really mentioned is that he may never have actually seen action, but he was sent over with the expectation he would, I’m guessing, unless he was was part of some unit who had a specialized unit, and even then, you’re not going to escape the realities of what the situation was there. You are sent over primed to kill. When you come back, are you unprimed? There may be a process for this, I’m fairly ignorant of the procedures. but once that is in you, as an instinct, it must be extremely difficult to get rid of. I sort of imagine their response to, “How are you,” is a little like the one below.

The really sad thing is that no one will know what type of man he was, that’s not what he’ll be remembered as. Not what kind of husband or father he was. No one thinks about that, either. His widow and children have been stigmatized by association. His widow will be interviewed by the investigators, his home searched, and they’ll “examine whether his combat experience caused lingering psychological trauma,” according to an article from USA Today. Do you think so? Lingering psychological trauma not being treated in one of the four special units he should have been assigned to.

Part of what continues the stigma against mental illness are incidences such as this, where the first statement out of anyone’s mouth implies “he shot and killed those people because he had a mental illness.” That is simply not true. The number of people who have mental illness is simply so high, along with the predisposition for weapons in society, it’s inevitable the two should meet.

Despite the fact this happens, let me just say this once

MENTAL ILLNESS SHOULD NOT BE A STIGMA

MENTAL ILLNESS IS AN INVISIBLE DISABILITY

MENTAL ILLNESS DOES NOT MAKE US INTRINSICALLY DIFFERENT

MENTAL ILLNESS DOES NOT MAKE US INTRINSICALLY DANGEROUS

What it can do, if we let it, is:

  • Lower our self-esteem
  • Lower our confidence in ourselves
  • Make us extremely sensitive to offhand remarks
  • Make us extremely sensitive to criticism
  • Make it extremely difficult if not impossible to attend social functions
  • Isolate ourselves from others
  • Make us socially awkward
  • Numerous other things

And then there are other people who can get along just fine, outwardly, with a facade so perfect you would never guess. That’s why it’s an invisible disability. It’s not obvious, like a physical disability. You can’t see it, It’s not actually real, is it? C’mon, you’re having me on! There’s nothing wrong with you, you look fine. Yes, I may look fine, I may sound fine, I may be sitting here at this moment with you looking perfectly fine. Do you know what fine stands for? F’d up, Insecure, Neurotic, Empty. It’s easier to say “fine” than to tell you how I really feel, because you actually don’t really want to know.

Because there’s a stigma attached to me. For people who know I have severe depression and an anxiety disorder, among other things, who aren’t very closely acquainted to me, they may wonder, what’s she capable of? She seems so nice. She makes teddy bears. She a writer, but not a very successful one…oh, no one bring that up, that might set her off. She was talking about that movie, Dead Again, the other day, and how much she liked it. Someone go through her area and take away all her scissors when she’s at lunch and give her kiddie scissors instead…

Now, all of the above is purely hypothetical, since I’m working at home now (working is a dubious term) — I finally have everything I need to start (including an awful lot of pairs of scissors), so really, that is a moot point now. But when I was at work, I was honest about my depression and anxiety. I thought if I was open about it, I could help break down some of the stigma. I was incredibly wrong about that. Sadly, for an organization that worked with children with disabilities, they didn’t do well with employees with disabilities. How’s work? Fine.

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Thinking about Brains

No, not about zombies, sorry. Though, if current statistics apply, one in four zombies may suffer from a mental illness, and may want to seek help.

It occurred to me that today is a sort of interesting and complicated day emotionally, travel-wise.

My boyfriend is flying back home today, where he went for the weekend to see a brilliant man. A man who used to be as loquacious as I am (believe it or not) and would talk to everyone he met. Talk and really listen to what they had to say. He enjoyed my sense of humor, which made us cohorts as soon as we met for the first time. He was witty, quick, and curious about everything. And if we were someplace and what he was curious about was local, he would ask until he found someone local and ask them about it. It was an endearing and sometimes embarrassing trait, but when he wanted to know something, he didn’t mess around. He always wore two pair of glasses, three if he had his sunglasses on as well, and inevitably lost the pair he stuck on the top of his head.

What does this have to do with brains? Summer before last we took a vacation together in Victoria, B.C., in July 2012. In was unseasonably cool. The weather always does strange things when we visit. This was only the second vacation in my life where we’d gone somewhere either in another state or out of the country, so this was a big deal. For me. My three traveling companions had been all over the place (well, many more places). He (I’ll just say S., it’s easier, and L. is his wife) had been having a little trouble with his memory, L said, so we were keeping an eye on him a little.

There were only a couple of times he got turned around or a little flustered. Even then, at one of those points, his sense of humor and remembering the situation makes me giggle. We were at the Royal BC Museum, and the loudspeaker came on and called my boyfriend to the information desk. S. had gotten separated from the rest of us, and instead of getting flustered, went to the information desk. He told them that he seemed to have misplaced his son. They asked how old his son was. S. replied, “41.” Apparently he had a nice conversation with them until my boyfriend got there, and no big deal was made of it, but S. did tell the story as a funny thing.

We returned home, me hopelessly in love with British Columbia, and not just because it was the first place in Canada I’d been–I’m not that kind of girl. Ah-hem.

By September of 2012 S. had been diagnosed with a type of dementia I had never heard of. I know people don’t like to use the word “dementia.” But it wasn’t Alzheimer’s, and I’m not going to put the two in the same category. It was a rapidly degenerative kind, the cruelest part for him, I think, when he knew what was happening when he was forgetting things and the anger and frustration that came with that. I know to a small extent what that feels like, but nothing like he must have experienced. L is a sweet, loving, caring person, one of the nicest people I have ever met, and her husband was falling apart in front of her. I can’t imagine that. I can’t imagine the strength she’s had to have, to live with a man you still love who lives in his own world. The family decided it was finally time to move him into a home specifically met to meet his needs.

As my boyfriend flies home today, I don’t know how the visit went. There were only short visits with his father. I just know that he’s quiet, keeps to himself, and doesn’t talk to anyone very much. He can’t walk without help, and they’re getting him a wheelchair. It’s only a matter of time. Less than two years since that vacation in Victoria.

At the same time, my best friend is on a train to where he’s having an interview at the Clinic he is trying to get admitted to for his difficult to treat diagnosis. Not a physical illness, a mental one. A 7 hour trip for an interview tomorrow. This clinic has the kind of treatment he needs, and I’m not sure if the interview determines that (along with all of his paperwork) or not. It shouldn’t. He needs the therapy they offer, in that environment. He’s a brilliant man as well; I would say he’s a genius but he’d probably refute me. He’s an artist–he can do anything he touches. Theater directing, set design, costume design, drawing, sculpture, animation–he did that for a longer while, restore signs on buildings, make puppets… painting is what he thinks he’s like to do, he’s an excellent photographer. He is amazing with words. We understand each other, don’t have to explain things. This is a diagnosis that, with a good treatment regimen, the symptoms can go into remission for years. That amazes me, and I want this so much for him. More than I want anything for me to get sorted out mentally. I’m okay, I get along, except for the not having a job thing. I have episodes every now and then. Usually when my meds are off. His diagnosis is very resistant to medications. He needs hope that this really will get better someday.

But compare the two. One brilliant man fading, who has touched so many lives. Another who has so far refused to fade, also a brilliant man, who needs to start this therapy and stick with it. And to continue on doing whatever wonderful thing he decides to do next, which will come to him in time–you can’t rush ideas.

There are things other people can do, things that can help. Stop making mental illness a stigma. If you can, give money for research on issues like these. Yes, the brain is relatively small, but exploring it is like unlocking the secrets in the ocean, or the universe. New things are discovered every day. New paths can be formed in time to perform functions thought lost. Nerves are amazing things, and the brain tells all of them what to do. Recognize there are invisible disabilities that are just as difficult for a person to live with as other disabilities. Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

And most importantly, love. If there’s someone in your family with a mental illness, learn about it. It doesn’t change who they are. They are a person with (          ), not the other way around. Love them the way they are, because that is the way they are. They are not their mental illness. Love them and don’t hold them at arm’s length. Know that sometimes they have very low self-esteems, and don’t believe when you give them a compliment, but don’t stop. Tell them specifically what you like. Sometimes they are perfectionists. Tell them whatever they are doing looks great. Sometimes that’s a part of the diagnosis. Talk to them about what they’d like you to do in specific situations. Every person is different. My advice here, the specifics, other people could think is really stupid. That’s okay. It won’t stop me from loving people the way they are, or trying to learn how to help. This is a weird paragraph, I don’t want to end on this.

So instead, my almost getting eaten by a bear in Victoria. Not really. And for those who know the sign “DO NOT TOUCH THE BEAR” is there…well, sometimes I’m just a rebel, what can I say?

Undisclosed Location Tall, Dark, and Handsome

Undisclosed Location
Tall, Dark, and Handsome

I was just barely, barely holding his paw. While watching for security guards. Bearly holding his paw?

 

If S’s family, as this was a spur of the moment thing, thinking about both people traveling and why, would rather this not be up, I understand, and I’ll take it down.

 

 

 

 

 

Peridot Dragon Garnet eye