Years ago, I had a bunch of serious chatter going on in my mind. Not the every day worries of most people, I obsessed. The earthquake in Haiti–obsessed about it. Day and night. I desperately wanted to do something, but all I could do was donate money. But I continued to obsess.
Politics was another subject I obsessed over. What a bunch of flippin’ idiot-liars. I was one of the bright eyed positive believers, who thought that some day, things would change. They got worse. I obsessed. All I could do was vote for the lesser of two evils and hope for the best. Oh, and that little question on our tax returns which asks if we want to contribute to the Presidential Campaign Fund?—hell no. Their campaigns are funded by people who are obscenely wealthy, they don’t need my dollar.
Logically, I knew obsessing wasn’t normal—which is another reason I sought therapy. I also quit watching any news. I thought that current events would always give me conversation starters, especially when I found myself in a socially awkward position. Ha! and Ha!
Today, with the help of medication, and therapy, I know how to control the obsessive thoughts. I have distinguished what I have control of, and what I don’t. I search my mind for a solution for what I can personally do to help, and accept what little part I play. I can’t hold the world on my shoulders, and I can’t solve all the issues. There are things I can do, and that is what I focus on.
Last night, we watched the Barbara Walters 20/20 special. (sorry, I can only think of her as Babawawa)–oh yeah, I’m being serious.
Ms. Walters was interviewing the father of the kid who went on a rampage in California. I vaguely remember the story, because try as I might to avoid “news”, if we’re watching regular television stations-not cable-there are always the tantalizing clips to lure us into watching the news.
I don’t remember the kid’s name, or how long ago this incident happened, but he is one of the monsters who receive so much media attention that the real issue – mental illness – is distorted, and this is the way people view sufferers of mental illness. Eventually, we will go on a rampage. Seriously?
The father was trying to begin a conversation about mental illness, and what loved ones should be looking for. He really had nothing to say, because he didn’t recognize that his son had problems other than being shy and socially awkward. Which, in his defense, the family did try to help the kid. My suspicion, the family was in denial. As parents, some don’t want to face what they feel in their gut. They want the perfect family, one free of such horrid disorders such as mental illness. A very complex disorder encompassing many different definitions and manifestations.
The kid finally reached the age of 18, the age of adulthood. Eventually, the kid/young adult started posting videos online of his mentally skewed thought processes, and his mother alerted police. The police can’t do a thing. No crime was being committed.
We can encourage adults to seek professional help, we can’t make them go and get help. We can’t make them take medication that would help. We can do nothing.
As much as I understand my own mental illness, I am baffled how a person loses touch with reality. The bizarre becomes reality to them. Their thought processes for solutions for their perceived problems, aren’t rational.
This is not the conversation we should limit the subject of mental illness to. The mentally ill who receive this type of media attention distorts our view of mental illness. Those of us who need help, are ashamed to seek it. Some can’t find a way to afford therapy. The therapy available on what they call a “sliding scale”, is in very limited areas. One must live near a city which offers “affordable” help.
So, Babawawa, while you tried, you had the wrong conversation. Your hour long show did nothing to bring awareness, or to reduce the stigma of mental illness. The show continued to portray the horrible things the young man did, and how horrified the father was that he didn’t recognize his son had a serious problem. Perhaps the editing of the show cut out information we could really use, but we will never know.
I have another topic, for another day, about an article my son sent to me about why people are convinced to believe information that may not be completely factual. I think mental illness is one of these topics we are barraged with the incorrect, or incomplete information.
For the record, I am not advocating for gun control, I am not advocating for the right to own a gun. I’m simply referring to removing the stigma of mental illness.