Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Parallels…

If someone had cancer, would you berate them for their lot in life?  Would you laugh and cajole when they couldn’t get out of the bed or feed themselves properly?   Would you write them disparaging comments when they could no longer handle the daily tasks of life all of us take for granted?  You would be shamed into submission by your peers.  Why is this not true for mental illness?  My negative anonymous comments are an example of this.  They probably wouldn’t get on a blog written by a lung cancer patient and write, just go ahead and die already!

Thus is the stigma of mental illness.  Many times mental illness is seen as a defect of character.  Oh, he’s just lazy, or he’s just willfully dependent on his parents.  He’s got it easy.  He doesn’t want to work or support himself.  George might drink and be dysfunctional, but he is a man supporting himself!  George doesn’t have a chemical and neurological imbalance and misfiring in his brain.  He just has an addiction which can be remedied most of the time.    

People with schizophrenia have a malfunctioning brain just like cancer patients have cells dividing uncontrollably.  Cancer patients have chemo and I have Risperdal Consta.   Cancer can go into remission and then suddenly reemerge just like my own condition.  Why are illnesses of the brain taken so lightly?  So many mentally ill people are scorned by their families and friends and fall into disparaging conditions such as homelessness, isolation, mental wards, and assisted living homes.  People rally around loved ones with cancer, support them, and do what is needed to see they have the proper medical treatment.  A lot of money and time is poured into finding cures and treatments for cancer.

I will be the first to admit I am a lot like a child, but I am also smart, cunning, and vibrant – full of life – damned to this seeming duality of existence.  Many brilliant people had or have a mental illness. John Forbes Nash anyone?   I sometimes wish I was of their lot – my more positive aspects outweighing the stigma of mental illness. 

We are also such extremely socially structured creatures and this can escape people with mental illness.  I think this is one of the hardest things to deal with when concerning people with mental illness.  The Homeless Guy is a glaring example of this.  He is completely dependent upon others for his well being and he very clearly has a mental illness. He is also brilliant.  No one has received more derision than he as far as a blogger goes.  It has almost made him stop writing publicly.  And I believe it’s because he just doesn’t grasp the socially acceptable norms of life – of working, of raising a family, of being responsible, of social etiquette.    This scares and confuses people.  The very tenants of the fabric of our society are not being met by one of our own.  So what do we do?  We kick him when he’s down, not helping to lift him up.  We laugh.  We cajole.  We write disparaging anonymous comments on his blog telling him what a lout he is.  We show our true selves and thus lose part of our humanity in the process.

21 comments:

Hap Joy Free said...

Andrew,

You wrote a thoughtful, true post and I applaud you. Im sure you understand the nature of cowards. They gained importance by throwing daggers at others while hiding behind their anonymity. Sadly, the importance is insignificant and temporary. Like the kid who hides behind a tree and throws rocks at passerbys.

The ignorant cowards who insult you by their stupidity have problems much more severe than your mental illness. Which, Im sure accounts for the misery they must feel in their own life. Unlife you, they are drowning in self induced anger and despair.

Sad fo them....cowards are always ineferior and unhappy.

Love you xoxo
Christina

Anonymous said...

Brilliant and so true! Touched my heart.....

Yes, theres still a lot to be done abt this illness.More awareness is required and more research too.

Our blessings and best wishes are with u always....just ignore those stupid comments.

From,
India

Anonymous said...

The sad problem is that there are so many people out there that use the system to not work, etc. that prople do not take the time to realize there are people out there like yourself that actually need it.

This will probably never change but a good quote to remember when those types get you down is, "Opinions are like ass holes, everyone has one and the majority of them STINK!"

hang in there and take care.

It's Jan! said...

Beautifully said! I wish i had your way with words when i I am called to defend my bi-polar, 17 year old grandson.

Anonymous said...

Much of what you have written I have said myself Andrew.
It's hard to make those in my life understand that if my illness were physical they would be bringing me flowers and food and offering to help in any way they could.But instead too many times I am met with hurt feelings or anger or even disgust over my actions.
Sometimes I want to jump through this screen and be in your physical presence because I think you are amazing in so many ways.
BTW,I only post as anonymous because I never seem to be able to log in.
Big Momma Hugs,
Billie in Mo.

Anonymous said...

you are a great person....keep your head held high...and know that there are people who love you for you....im here if you need anything...
leslie

Lynette said...

I haven't been reading the comments, just your posts. I am sorry that the know nothings have been out tearing you down. You know what your disease is and how it affects you. One of the reasons I like reading what you write is that you are so honest with your struggle. Don't let them get to you, you have enough to work with as it is.

Joy Heather said...

Wow..lots of positive anonymous comments..those sort are fine..its the sad 'negative' ones that are so annoying,the ones that NEVER sign their names. I'm sure some folk are anon for a very good reason, but at least they DO sign their names..its the others the 'truly' anonymous, because they have not even got the strentgh of their convictions,or are perhaps too ashamed, that i find abborhent..so good that they do not phase you to much.

kristi said...

Andrew, I agree wholeheartedly. My son has autism and you should HEAR the comments by my family and I want to tell them all to fuck off.

This IS The Fun Part! said...

Andrew, you've given me a major headache today! (The good kind.) I'm not used to having to concentrate so hard to keep up with what you're saying.

After reading about schizophrenia in more detail than ever, this post gives even more personal insight into what you feel. I've always known you were loving and sensitive - but the deeper you go into subjects, the more I like and respect you.

Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us. I know that this education is certainly doing me a lot of good.

I SO look forward to joyous weather posts tomorrow!

Grannie

Nell Jean said...

You know, you could change your comments so that anonymous is not a choice. If we know who you are, you should know where to find us as well.

Lena said...

Good to write about such an important issue. I work with children and teens with mental illnesses and other disabilities and I see what they must endure.

You have so many talents and wonderful qualities. Your writing touches peoples' hearts and changes them.

Hugs and hats off to you, Andrew.

mago said...

Well saied.

Leann said...

Andrew, people fear what they do not understand. That is where prejudice comes from, in all of it's forms.

One of the things I have noticed about people who have a mental illness is that they are talented in the arts. Whether it be writing, painting, drawing, etc. You have a true way with words Andrew.

Embrace what makes you 'you'. God created all of us in all our forms.

Irishcoda said...

Thank you Andrew. In spite of everything we've learned, there is *still* a stigma to not only emotional disabilities (I'm bipolar & have chronic depression) but to just about everything that makes people "different". People have said ugly ignorant things to me about my autistic grandson or about deaf people (my parents are deaf) too. One of the problems with anonymous comments on the internet is that these ignorant folks feel they can dump all their hate and run and so they do. And I always hear, consider the source or don't feed the trolls or just ignore it and so on but it still hurts to see these comments show up. I'm not as brave as you. I won't allow anonymous comments at all.

skinny minny said...

As I was driving home from work tonight I finally gave into the anxiety attack I had managed to keep at bay for most of the day and as I was blubbering and gulping for breathe trying to calm myself down before getting home (as I knew my roommate would have no understanding) all I could think of to do was call the three people I knew who had had simular problems and would understand and whwen they didn't pick up their phones I thought I hope Andrew has posted something his strenth and wisdom and humor will help me. and it has. It is sad that very often even within our own families understanding or at least belief in the trueness of our problems is lacking. My mom oncesaid to me ( in all sinarity) when I get to feeling depressed or down I think of all those who lost weverything in the tsunami and then I realize what blessings I have. totally not getting that my depression was not a mometary "poor me" thing but a life long battle for organic reasons complicated by ptsd. oh well! maybe one day the general population out there will begin to understand. wow that was long! sorry1 and thank you.

Sharon said...

This is why it's so imperative that you keep on blogging about your life and your struggles. Because there is such ignorance and lack of understanding. Although I know you don't consider yourself a role model, in a way you put a "face" to the everyday functionings of someone faced with mental illness and addictions. That in itself brings a focus and awareness that might not otherwise be there for some. Disregard the stupid nasty comments, and keep doing what you do. There are still those of us who appreciate you regardless of the nasties.

Anonymous said...

Very well put. Im proud of your progress through the years.

jane said...

great post. thanks.
hugs,
jane

~Vital~ said...

Andrew hun, it is because of fear and ignorance. What we do not understand we fear, what we fear, we destroy. It has been happening all through out history and you would think that one day we would all wake up and realize what we are doing. Still we druge along with our heads in the sand destroying everything we do not understand. I'm so sorry you are enduring this behavior towards you. Your a very sweet and gifted man and should not be treated this way.

John Noble said...

Andrew, very well written. Thanks for posting it, and don't forget that you are a very interesting, and very talented, writer.