I'm so glad you could stop by. This is my personal blog of daily life and my journey through life. You will find a strong emphasis on family and friends as well as finding my ancestors through genealogy. Unlike my other blogs this blog is more of a catch-all so any topic is fair game.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Stigma of Mental Illness

It was with great sadness to hear of the recent death of Mindy McCready at the age of 37.  This troubled young person took her own life just a couple of weeks her boyfriend, David Wilson, took his life.  Her life  aside of being a country music star was in turmoil.  There were accusations that she had actually killed her boyfriend and McCready felt the investigating sheriff was on a witch hunt.  The underlying problem in this case was mental illness and addiction with the failure to seek help due to the embarrassment and stigma of mental illness.

Addictions are in some ways a coping mechanism for dealing with mental illness.  Folks learn from a very early age that self medication via alcohol, OTC or prescription drugs, or illicit drugs eases the pain enough for them to function somewhat in society.  In fact, substance abuse is the number one way to deal with ADHD, ADD or OCD without having to tell any doctor you have a mental problem because there is a stigma with having a mental illness.  Even the doctors look down on those with mental problems!  Then it becomes a vicious cycle because once addiction kicks in there is the stigma of admitting you have an addiction and we all know an addiction is a mental disorder whether or not you have another mental disorder complicating the issue.  

The natural human response is self preservation so even thoughts or acting on suicide is abnormal.  The question is, it is simply abnormal and a sign of desperation or is it a mental illness.  Well, by definition of a successful suicide, the person can't keep repeating the behaviour or be cured from the result so I would not consider the act of suicide itself to be a mental illness.  Now, some have said only the insane would commit suicide.  True, as that goes back to the self preservation argument, but drugs and alcohol can cause a person to hallucinate or hear things that aren't there which could cause them to act on their suicidal thoughts when normally they wouldn't which only means they had addiction problems not necessarily a mental illness.

Society really is to blame, if you ask me.  Society asks too much of the individual but doesn't provide the support yet is quick to judge when the individual cannot meet those expectations.  Society constantly bombards a person with you are too fat, too thin, too ugly, too whatever come to mind and essentially never good enough.  Even if a person knows they have a mental illness, the chances of getting help is slim because if it goes on their medical record they could lose their job.  Good gosh help them if they are a celebrity like McCready if the news of a mental illness gets out to the fans or worse yet to the bloodthirsty, do anything for a dime paparazzi.   Child protective services could be called if a parent has a mental illness that could harm a child and let's face it the legal system is far from a friend to anyone with a mental illness.  Friends and family do treat those with mental illnesses differently.  They become judgmental, critical and even holier than thou because they are better than the one suffering as they aren't mentally ill.  They may become enabler as part of their unmentioned mental illness to keep their family member ill because it does feed into their own mental illness and dependency.  Heck, bullying even at the school age has become so common that kids are committing suicide regardless whether a mental illness has ever been diagnosed.  

Really, the label of the mental illness is just another way to keep people oppressed.  It is a way for society to get rid of the weaker while not taking blame for creating the problem it the first place.  At the same time for this to function for society, society has to convince those with mental illnesses that they are inferior.  They cannot seek or accept help and the only way out is suicide of which society will again judge.  Therein lies the stigma of mental illness...

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