Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Why is this true?

A friend sent me a link this morning which has made me both sad and angry.

The article was printed under the title 'No One Brings Dinner When Your Daughter is an Addict'.  And it makes my heart hurt.

The author's wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.  And, as is right and proper, the family received support from friends, church, work colleagues.  People rang, people talked, people cooked dinners.  Lots of dinners.  Lots of support.

Time moved on, and his wife recovered.  Then a new crisis emerged, when his daughter was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with bipolar disorder.   As is common, his daughter had been self-medicating with drugs and alcohol.

No dinners.  Much less support, from far fewer people.  The family essentially faced the pain on their own.

Until his daughter was involved in a car accident - on her way home after treatment.  Her injuries were physical - and food and comfort were provided.

Why?  Is there a perception that mental illness is catching?  Is it a question that somehow the families of people with physical illnesses  deserve support, while the families of those with mental illnesses or subtance abuse problems don't.  The pain is very real in both cases.   Cooking a meal for the family doesn't condone drug or alcohol abuse in my mind - instead it says I am sorry that you are going though a difficult time, and hope this helps.

Or am I being unreasonable?

123 comments:

  1. It's the perception that a mental illness such as an addiction is at least partly the victim's fault, or that they can at least control it, potentially, and all the issues of fate, chance and freedom and destiny that get all muddled up within a mess of minds. I have seen it all, from inside and out. It's not pretty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrew Maclaren-Scott: If, and it is a big if, the mental illness and/or the addiction are the victim's fault, it doesn't lessen the families pain one iota. As the daughter of an alcoholic I well remember the grief, the anger, the fear, the work...

      Delete
    2. Bipolar is not an addiction, it is something one is born with, but it can be the reason for an addiction, since many people self medicate before being diagnosed.

      Delete
    3. River: I am sorry if I gave the impression that I thought that bi-polar disorder was an addiction. It isn't. And you are right, many people with mental illnesses do self medicate with alcohol and or drugs - which is sometimes classified as another mental illness.

      Delete
    4. Just to be clear, it was the perception "that a mental illness such as an addiction is at least partly the victim's fault" that I was addressing, not the reality. Words can often be interpreted as conveying the opposite of what one means.

      Delete
    5. Andrew Maclaren-Scott: Another reason to be careful with our use of them. And sadly you were addressing a reality. Not one I like, but one that is there.

      Delete
  2. No, I don't think you are unreasonable. Unreasoning minds are those which shut the door on these problems.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. dinahmow: And in closing the door pretend the problem has gone away...

      Delete
  3. You are being EXTREMELY reasonable!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Most people attach shame and danger to mental illness, and self-medicating adds more shame and danger. People who would offer support to those who are ill generally do best in the case of easily comprehensible and acute illnesses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Snowbrush: I suspect you are right - but it is wrong. Shame, danger and blame.

      Delete
  5. Mental illness is perceived as far more "catching" than a physical illness or accident. Outsiders just don't want to be involved. When my brother wreaked the most havoc in his manic states my mother would sigh and say, "We'll just have our own breakdowns when this is over." Eventually it did end, and we didn't need to have our own anymore. I believe it's more a matter of life not being fair. It isn't, and l leave it at that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joanne Noragon: No life isn't fair - and because it isn't I do my best to reach out when I can. And I try not to discriminate either.

      Delete
  6. You are not being unreasonable. When my cousin committed suicide in the spring nobody would talk about it. He (at 47) just 'passed away'. My heart breaks for his parents and siblings. There was no service. In fact, I am the only member of the family that even sent a sympathy card. The sad thing is, his grandmother committed suicide in 1972 and nobody talks about her either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Birdie: Awful. And I believe the more we don't talk about it, the more entrenched the problem gets. Thank you for reaching out.

      Delete
    2. When my brother was killed in Vietnam my family quit talking about him too. The senslessness is just too hard to address.

      The sad truth is that illness that people view as self imposed is treated with less sympathy. That lack of compassion makes the struggle harder for everyone to deal with. I for one am very tired of the stigma associated with mental illness. Especially along the medical community. After I say that I have depression anything else that I say is negated.

      Delete
    3. Lisa (aka Mollie's mom): And an even sadder truth is that not only do we treat the person with the 'self-imposed' illness differently, we treat their families differently too. Wrong, wrong and wrong.

      Delete
  7. I think you're very reasonable but drug and alcohol addiction is still seen as a character flaw and not as a disease. Unfortunately many don't understand that often mental illness causes more pain than physical illness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Myrna R.: Even if people see addiction as a character flaw, I am distressed that they think the family needs no support.

      Delete
  8. No - I agree with you. And vow to do better myself. It's true that sometimes we (I) overlook families who are in pain for reasons other than physical illness.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lynn: Thank you. A work in progress for all of us.

      Delete
  9. "Some have the gumption to adopt the assumption of presumption. There are those who think they know you when they haven’t a clue. Too readily scenarios are made to suit with no basis from which to work other than from their overworked, overzealous imaginations."

    I wrote the above as part of an article I wrote a couple of weeks ago - and it seems to apply in this instance. People just don't understand...and it's out of ignorance and prejudice.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I saw that article, too. I didn't send it around, but I can understand why someone would. People are truly flummoxed about what to do when the pain you are experiencing is caused by drugs and alcohol. As a child of an alcoholic, and one who married someone who eventually died because of it, I understand why nobody wants to acknowledge the depth of that pain. You know, maybe it will go away, or it can't happen to me, that sort of thing. It doesn't make it right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DJan: I am sorry that you are familiar with this pain too. And yes, maybe it will go away is one thing - but it completely ignores the pain that people are already going through. And I don't think that turning our backs on people in need is acceptable.

      Delete
  11. This came up so much during my brother-in-law's funeral (a suicide). This, I see, somewhat related...The stigma of mental illness. His aunt spoke with us about how when she was experiencing a physical illness, she had so much support from the church and the community... but when she was diagnosed with depression, nothing. She explained that she felt she needed even more support in a way, with the depression, but that her community essentially abandoned her. It is terribly sad and awful and needs to be changed.

    So many people have come forth after the funeral to share their struggles with mental illness. After that, I think more people I know have struggled than not. And yet we all struggle alone. I do think that many folks are afraid of possible mental illness in their families and in themselves. Same for addiction.

    This attitude is very much dated and needs to change.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Raquel Somatra: I suspect that turning our backs and leaving people (and their families) to wrestle with mental illness and/or addiction alone is part of the reason suicide numbers are so high. I am on my soapbox a bit, but I feel strongly that we need to talk about the hard issues including suicide and mental illness and we need to reach out. Not always easy - but worthwhile.

      Delete
  12. It is very sad but we all can handle sickness because we have all been ill at some time in our lives but mental illness and drug addiction is not something that all people come in contact with so we don't always know what to do.
    Merle..................

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merlesworld: It is true that we may not know what to say, but this excludes the families as well as the person with mental illness. I think an 'I am sorry for what you are experiencing' and 'what can I do to help' could go a long way.

      Delete
  13. People are deeply afraid of mental illness and of the mentally ill, sadly with good cause in some cases. It's also such a frightening mystery; why should a person be OK one day, and raving and illogical, completely a different person, the next? When my husband was in hospital, I told people he had a bad back; you can't just say 'Oh, he's had a psychotic episode and is in a mental hospital", particularly in a small town or city, where the news will get around and he'll never work again. Having a broken arm or a car accident doesn't make you unemployable or as subject to lifelong suspicion as does a mental illness. I don't know how this can be changed. Support for friends and family is non-existent; everybody, even the professional help, turns away, particularly when there has been violence involved.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lynners: I am so sorry for what you were foeced to suffer without support. In my idealistic way I think that it is very wrong that support for family and friends is non-existent. Both the professional and the personal touch. Hopefully the person in question is getting some support (though I know it is often not enough) but their family needs help too.

      Delete
  14. Thank you!! This is why my organization exists. So many people struggle and suffer and often die without asking for help. Why? Because we're afraid to talk about it, because we treat it differently. If you break your arm, it shouldn't be treated differently than when something in your brain breaks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Riot Kitty: An illness, is an illness is an illness. And all of of need support.

      Delete
  15. HI EC A great post and certainly you are not being unreasonable. What you say is very true and rejection such a shame for families that are huring and need help. I think people find mental illness hard to handle and they think they don't know what to say but that is no excuse for doing nothing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Margaret Adamson: Thank you. I agree that hard as it is we need to do more. Not just the professionals but each and every one of us.

      Delete
  16. It is just like when you have a severely handicapped child, the gut reaction of passers by or acquaintances is 'there but for the grace of God go I' and people either stare or turn away, both can be equally hurtful to the handicapped, whether physically or manually. Ignore it and the problem will go away. The worst is when families turn away from their children when they most need love and looking after.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Arija: Sad, bad and wrong. On so many levels.

      Delete
  17. I have to admit this sort of thing doesn't cross my mind. Not often anyway. I've never been in a position where friends or family needed the kind of support that providing meals brings. I have a bipolar niece and I know I'll help her if she ever needs it, if I can. It would depend on what she needs.
    I wonder if people bring meals etc for physical injuries until the injured person is well, because it is a relatively short term thing, whereas a mental illness is most often a lifelong thing. Providing meals for that length of time could be cost prohibitive, which is a big factor for most people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. River: Perhaps you are right, and people provide support for a finite period of time. However, no-one in the family were given any support - not the woman with the mental illness, nor her family as they struggled to support her.

      Delete
    2. River I understand exactly what you have said here and I think there is a lot of truth in it. When I dislocated my shoulder a couple of years back two granddaughters did provide meals to help during the first week but that was the only time it happened and I don't think I've ever provided meals but have assisted in other ways during times when family or friends had problems.
      I think your comment about mental illness being a lifetime thing is spot on so perhaps moral support can be given but not so much the meals idea. I do though think friends should rally around as much for a mental illness than for a shorter term physical injury or illness.
      Sorry EC to have butted in here but River virtually said what I had in mind so I won't leave further comment.

      Delete
    3. Mimsie: You are welcome to chime in where-ever you like. And I would be very happy to hear that some support, any support was given to the families of people with mental illness as well as to the person with the illness. Sadly I think that professional support (and not enough of it) is often all that is given.

      Delete
  18. I do provide emotional support to a friend after he goes off the rails and gets blind drunk, and have taken food too, but I usually wait until he is sober enough. It's too dangerous to go too soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. River: That is lovely - and no-one expects you to put your safety at risk.

      Delete
  19. Physical ailments are so much easier. Mental pain frightens. It reminds us of our own fragilities and, in our intergenerational histories, about stigma and failure to hold one's own. I recently read a very moving book written by someone who has suffered much from mental illness: Kate Richards, 'Madness' Here is the link to my review: http://freudinoceania.com/2013/09/06/kate-richards-madness-a-memoir/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Christine: I suspect you are right, but it bothers me that even when the young woman was in residential care, there was no support available for her family. Who didn't have mental illness, but were overwhelmed. I will go and check out that review.

      Delete
  20. It can be very frightening to witness a pyscotic moment when someone has stopped taking their medication & violent. Sadly If I took a meal round to a couple I know it would probably be thrown at me; I would be accused of having an affair with the husband & there would be repercussions I do not wish to witness.

    I have supplied meals to other ill friends it's true but in the other case I am very frightened of the repercussions this act of kindness would bring. So sad.

    Having just had a bout of depression I know the only one to help me out of it was me - a trip to the doctors & making changes to get myself out of it. Loving patience from family & friends is a support but in the end it was down to me to help myself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. BadPenny: As I said to River, your own safety is of major importance. Just the same, I would like to think that the families of people with mental illness could get the same support as the families of people with cancer.
      And yes, you helped yourself - with support. How much more difficult it would be if you got none.

      Delete
  21. Our 45 year old No 5 son has finaly found peace with himself and others.
    Gay, Married, teenage daughters, divorced, followed by a rampaging period of pot smokes and booze, Us his parents and elder brothers assisted him when he needed it most despite the help we would receive phone threats and abusive emails fortunately over the past few months some form of recovery has been noticed, demands are fewer and some niceties in communication, however,' to forgive and not count the unnecessary cost ' had me thinking, "who said that". Fortunately all is peaceful and serene at the present time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vest: Such a hard time - for your son, and for all the family. You supported your son as best you could. Did anyone help you at all?
      I am glad that, for the moment at least, all is peaceful.

      Delete
    2. The local wooden tops came calling several times to make enquiries re his activities. Very embarrassing. Problem was; fibbing to nosey neighbours, why.

      Delete
    3. Vest: If you have to lie - make it a big one. A very, very big one. One of my brothers has developed the art of telling the truth so it sounds like a lie. When people have called him on that - and been caught, he feels free to tell them anything which comes into his head.

      Delete
  22. Not unreasonable at all. You hear this all the time, physical injuries are met with compassion and understanding. Mental injuries not so. More needs to be done to help sufferers from mental illness and more support for their families.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DeniseinVA: That is certainly where I stand, but there are a lot of different opinions about it.

      Delete
  23. Replies
    1. Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe: Unless it is a technology they they don't understand when it is embraced.

      Delete
  24. I saw that article too, and had the same reaction. Very sad. But then I think it's just to do with the fact the misunderstandings and stigmas around mental illness are only now starting to fall away. In a few years it will be better (not that that helps now of course). Once upon a time I remember "cancer" was always a whispered word and people avoided/kept quiet around cancer as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jackie K: I hope the stigmas continue to fall away - but it requires work to ensure they do.

      Delete
  25. I did not see the article, but can speak from experience that it happens. Not just with mental illnesses or addictions, but any "socially unacceptable" issue ~ such as my own which you are aware of. For a year, I was ignored, left alone, and abandoned by local friends and relatives because of my situation. Now suddenly, because things have changed for the better, everyone comes out of the woodwork ... expecting me to welcome them with open arms. I think not ... my life and perspective have changed considerably in this year. I will reach out to those in situations like the one I just got out of more willingly ... and not trust my heart again to those I thought I could.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Letting the Words Escape: Social acceptance is a powerful thing - and I think it is more than time we harnessed its powers to do positive things.

      Delete
  26. This does happen, sadly when it is not physical injuries....maybe talking about it will help to improve it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kim @ Stuff could...: I hope so, I really hope so. And am talking.

      Delete
  27. Mental health is something man has never been able to come to grips with. They are uncomfortable because they don't know how to respond to anything, they don't understand. Even society wants to sweep it under the rug. Our insurance company's barely cover it and what they do cover has only been because of pressure from special interest groups who are fighting to help people with mental health issues. In the US the majority of our homeless are people with mental health issues who have no place to go for help, can't get a job, have no insureance and end up on the street living off of hand outs and thier issues just get worse. And, we now have a political faction that is trying to cut the little bit of government support that was accomplished and they are referring to the homeless, poor or unemployed as "takers" ... basically of no use to society so we shouldn't have to help them. I want to vomit when I listen to these people. But that is the Big Picture ... on a family to family level it is as you said ... suddenly no one is there. And, I might add, if you try to be there it is hard because the problems are on going, long term, hard to resolve and sometimes impossible ... so then what. I wish there were more easy answers ... education ... talking about it like you are, that is the best way to get people to open their eyes and hearts ... sometimes what life has become is overwhelming.

    Andrea @ From The Sol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrea: Hiss and spit. I do believe that continuing to sweep the issues under the mat does more harm than good. But I am an idealist.

      Delete
  28. Very interesting thought. I think mental illnesses are not as talked about for fear of stigma and isolation toward the person. I know many people who would be insulted if anyone talked about there mental illness.
    I do not thin it is done out of lack of care but rather a need for privacy to help the healing process.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lady Lilith BloodCrave: Welcome. Sadly, I don't agree with you. I don't think that the issues are avoided out of respect, I think that fear has more influence. And if people don't want to talk about it, there are still practical things which can be done to help.

      Delete
  29. I think it's because people can't "see" mental illness, and it scares them. My eldest daughter is epileptic Which actually the doctor referred to as a mental illness and my daughter flipped. She hated the idea of being labelled "Mentally ill". Mental illness has such a stigma.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LL Cool Joe: I think you are right about both the stigma and the fear. Which, given the number of us who will have a mental illness at some time in our lives (more than one in four of us I think) is sad, bad and so very wrong.

      Delete
  30. You are right on. Sometimes a person and/or the family of that person will not talk publicly about the mental illness, and it's hard to know how to help without invading their privacy. But we all need to do what we can, even if it's uncomfortable, and that includes me. Thank you for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. jenny_o: Not easy - but worth trying. In this case the family had talked publically about their daughter's illness and the whole family were essentially snubbed.

      Delete
  31. Not at all unreasonable. It defies logic to me that people can be so judgmental, not even caring for the family involved, let alone the poor woman living in hell in the middle of it all. Part of it is generational I think, I know my own parents think 'druggies' don't deserve help as they 'brought it on themselves', and they find it hard to grasp the fact that many people addicted to drugs took them to alleviate the pain of being mentally ill, or became mentally ill after taking them for some time. I find it heart breaking that people are so blinkered, seeing only what they want to see, yet probably consider themselves as 'good Samaritans' if asked. Bi-polar is a very, very hard condition to live with as well. And some are still 'afraid' of the subject of mental health, it makes them uncomfortable, so they shy away, which is the wrong thing to do entirely, as they just isolate those who need help all the more, and make their lives more unhappy. I have a friend I've helped through several periods of psychotic episodes over the years, and without the help of those around her she'd not be with us today. We need to reach out, not isolate if we wish to be considered civilized human beings in any form.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All Consuming: Reach out, and keep reaching out. Accepting that sometimes we will not succeed - but that failure comes from not trying.

      Delete
  32. Here in New Zealand it is much talked-about. Hence, there is not the stigma surrounding such topics as depression & addiction (to name but a few). Shame it's not the same in other parts of the world. Sad and rather disturbing.

    It affects us all - one way or the other, after all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wendy: Your country is streets ahead of mine in many ways that are important to me.

      Delete
  33. Unfortunately, mental illness still carries a stigma. I think that negative perception is slowly changing, though. Unfortunately it's not changing fast enough. But who hasn't suffered from some kind of mental illness, or know someone who suffers? It has to change.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gwen Gardner: Welcome and thank you. Change - and soon. Please.

      Delete
  34. As others have said, physical injuries and illness don't carry a social stigma like mental afflictions do. Even as one who is bi-polar, I can tell you that I rarely speak of it. People don't understand it or they expect you to "get better" with a magic pill or three. I stopped taking medication because the cure was even worse, harming me physically and destroying my organs...not that the doctors would admit to that. I proved it by going off all meds and restoring the balance in my bloodwork. Now I just grit my teeth and try to go on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. River Fairchild: It pisses me off (big time) that mental illness carries a stigma. It pisses me that we tar the family with the same stupid brush. Ignorant, prejudiced and cruel.

      Delete
  35. Hi Sue,

    As you will know and we share an ideal, the misconceptions, the stigmas the stereotypes that still surround mental health issues, need to be eradicated. With further awareness and more people wanting to understand, the goal does get closer.

    What people who don't have a mental illness need to know is that there are a number of factors. Genetics aka nature, or environmental aka nurture, or indeed, a combination of both.

    In this challenging world, we all need to understand that no, mental illness is not contagious, however, the impact of the world around, can affect any of us. Vital we all be here for each other.

    Thank you for bringing this article to light, Sue.

    In peace and hope,

    Gary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gary just brought up the genetics factor - which again doesn't have the same stigma if it's physical rather than mental. I come from a family of bi-polar and alcoholics (obviously a symptom of a deeper illness), none of whom have ever talked about it. "Sweep it under the rug and don't let the neighbors know" was the way to live when I was growing up.

      Delete
    2. klahanie:
      Hi Gary. I knew that we sing from the same book on this one. And we need to get a whole lot more people joining the choir. And I have been thinking. Mental illness is contagious if you consider, as I do, ignorant prejudice to be a mental illness.

      Delete
    3. River Fairchild: Sad and bad isn't it? I have alcoholism in my gene pool too. And am fairly certain that there are other mental illnesses as well - though not admitted to.

      Delete
  36. Around here, people get cancer and go through it completely alone also. Nobody helps anybody over anything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember being dropped off at a hospital in a city 40 miles from here for major neck surgery and having to hitch a ride home and figure out recuperation alone. Same with back surgery, which was even worse alone.

      Delete
    2. Strayer: And it is no consolation that the people in your area are vile to everyone. Bad, and wrong.

      Delete
  37. My son has bipolar disorder, so I know how you feel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bob Bushell: Sad, frustrated and angry. And hopeful too that things will change for the better.

      Delete
  38. You're right - it's so wrong that some illnesses are more 'acceptable' than others!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ladyfi: And sadly some professionals also seem to have adopted this view.

      Delete
  39. You are not being unreasonable. I've seen/experienced the same sort of behavior from 'friends' and even family.

    No, mental illness and substance abuse are not contagious, but I do believe people are afraid of both conditions. It touches something too close to people--the fear of the unknowable. The fear of not knowing.

    And then there is the idea of cancer and other physical conditions 'happening' to people. No one chooses to have cancer or diabetes or Crohn's disease. But MANY (ignorant) people believe substance abuse is a choice--and condemn those suffering from substance use disorders for their 'choice' to abuse.

    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. But enough of my soap-boxing. Peace...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Linda: Welcome to a crowded soap box. And thank you.

      Delete
  40. No, you are not unreasonable.
    I do think that most people don't know much about mental illnesses and have no idea how to deal with it, how to support a family who is faced with it. I didn't have an idea about that either until I met my friend who's daughter has severe OCD and she suspects her ex-husband has bipolar disorder. She told me a lot about these illnesses that I pretty much knew nothing about before. I do see the toll that it takes (and I don't support by cooking food; I support by listening and taking her out - we both love nature and birds).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carola Bartz: Support is welcome in whatever form it takes. And listening is a huge gift.

      Delete
  41. Dear Sweet S,
    you are right on.
    We are supposed to be ashamed and hide mental disorders. As far as I'm concerned, those families need support MORE than most.
    Xxxx Love from MN.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My Inner Chick: And certainly not less. I refuse to hide any disorder. And will try and give support where ever, when ever and how ever I can. Hugs

      Delete
  42. i haven't read comment here but i have read many but it certainly raises some things.
    i didnt life a finger to help when my own mother had breast cancer. i was terrified and i didnt want to acknowledge it. fortunately, mum had a short course of treatment and i think she knew what i was doing. i like to think i would have risen to the occasion if it had been much more serious.

    dad is depressed and anxious at times but to us it seems like he is just whining and cranky, it takes an effort of will for me to treat him with the respect he deserves and to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    i have had my own deep crises which have received little attention, support or sympathy and i remember a mentor of mine telling me that there was nothing she or anyone could do for me, that it was my road to take alone.

    I believe that we all should do whatever we can to support the people around us but i tend to agree with my mentor, that we pretty much always take the painful roads alone and to resent our solitude only makes it harder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. kylie: I think both are true. At the end of the day we do need to help ourselves - but some support from family and friends doesn't go astray. And in this instance, the family needed support as well as the person with the mental illness. She was getting care - they were not.
      And I hate to think of you being told to 'do it alone'.

      Delete
  43. We don't have a set dialogue for mental problems, and especially not an anodyne one. When my neighbor broke his hips, I showed up with cookies, a balloon and the get-well spiel. I know that I wouldn't be comfortable doing the same if he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Part of this is my cowardice, and part of this is that when I extend like that, I'm implicitly obligating the party to open up in ways that, when the disease is of the mind, feels terrifically rude. Someone has to be very close to me for me to extend because it feels much less like my place. There's this sense that they deserve privacy above all things. It's not constructive, and it's something I struggle against. I know I could do better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John Wiswell: But would you be able to reach out to his family, which was the issue in the article? I suspect you would - and we could all do better.

      Delete
  44. I've lived through, in my own way, the shunning that happens when one suffers from a psychological or dependency issue - when that person is one of your children. No one came. No one called. I not only had to deal with the mental anguish but the social shame. It is a shame. You're right.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Barb: I am so sorry. And shame is a milder word than the one I would use.

      Delete
  45. I can add nothing new to the debate but agree with the sentiments expressed in your post.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I'm with Jabblog here. I can add nothing new to this, other than you are not being unreasonable…. The sad thing is, sometimes people are afraid of the "unknown" or something unfamiliar with their own lives. They see mental illness as "crazy" --- even these days. Remember way back, when going to a psychologist meant that you were batshit crazy? Now? It's the total norm because everyone deserves a good talk to an outsider (psychologist). It's just the same with suicidal people --- nobody will ever understand suicide because some have never been that low. They think it's just "crazy" and also think, "Well if they're willing to kill themselves, they're willing to kill me."

    Alcoholism, addiction of any kind, mental illness or all diseases, just like diabetes, the flu, etc. It's really a shame that there isn't enough "good" help out there, at least where I live, to get people headed in the right direction, or just to get some good bedside manners --- at least.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deb: And, as well as the professionals we need better 'bedside' manners. Less of the look the other way approach.

      Delete
  47. No, you aren't being unreasonable at all. What's unreasonable is the discomfort most people feel when it comes to mental illnesses of any kind. What's unreasonable is how people tend to look down their noses at families touched by mental illnesses and addictions. Maybe it's fear? Maybe they're terrified that something like that could happen to "taint" their families, too? But the bottom line is... pain and suffering is pain and suffering, and whatever its root cause, the decent thing to do is offer support, whether that comes in the form of a tuna casserole or a kind ear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan: Thank you. And I agree with you many thousands of percent. Support comes in many forms - but it should come in 'some' form.

      Delete
  48. So sad and yet so true. Support should come with love and understanding and without bias no matter what.

    Thanks for posting this story, it just might make a difference.

    Be well, be happy :)

    ReplyDelete
  49. Being judgmental--support and love should always be given, not only when someone approves of the event.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I've never had depression or any mental illness. I am lucky. My brother did, sort of -- his psychologist called it a series of ruts. I remember feeling feeling terribly scared that he would do something to harm himself but didn't have the guts to ask him directly. I would now. I think I used to think that mental illness only happened to weak people. I don't know how I got that impression but I'm sure I thought that way. I couldn't understand the episodes that would happen to my bipolar friend. Still, nowadays I'm much more familiar with it all, thanks to a few certain charity employers! I've recently had a friend diagnosed with pqnic attacks and anxiety and put on medication thanks to my slow prodding over a couple of years (her parents don't "believe" in psychology). Feel proud that I've gone from wishing I could be someone who helps to somebody who actually does!

    xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pamela Andrews: Lovely to see you here. Thank you for sending me that link - as you can see it has stirred up quite a conversation. Yay to prodding your friend. A triumph.

      Delete
  51. I agree that this shouldn't be the case. I think the difference is, whether we suffer from mental illness or know someone who does, there is, unfortunately, so muc shame and secrecy surrounding it tat people don't know how to talk to each other about it. It's one thing to tell someone, "heal up, feel better" there isn't the risk of offending them, or at least, the offense is less likely than talking about mental illness. That same comment might sound offensive to someone who is depressed. That's just my take. And, I agree with you, we should be just as eager to help out! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wild Child Mama: Welcome and thank you. Yes, it probably needs us to think about what we say - which is not a bad thing.

      Delete
  52. it shouldn't be any different, but there's such a fear of saying or doing the wrong thing that people stay away... "i don't know what to say/do" is the rationale. i've seen it in my friends and family. a simple hug will do. invitation to coffee.

    similar to the situation when a friend lost his young son to suicide. had the son been in a car accident, there would have been an outpouring of support, comfort, candlelight vigils... some of this happened, but mostly the family felt abandoned....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. daisyfae: I don't think that there are any 'right' words - but no words at all are very often as wrong as it gets. Many years ago a work colleague's son died - and I said nothing because I didn't know what to say. I still feel bad (very bad) about that, and try and do better. Much better. And yes, you are right, suicide falls in the too hard basket - often.

      Delete
  53. This is poignant, Sue - and all the comments, too. Indeed, indeed. I appreciate the dad noticed the difference in the support. It is complex, it is. Mental illness, yep, I so know about that.

    Excellent post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. wordsfallfrommyeyes: Complex and wrong. His daughter was in residential care, so the support would have been for the family, not her. And it was absent.

      Delete