I have spent a large portion of my life exposed to trauma and although my ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) scores are not a great indicator of my pain, I know that my heart has experienced tremendous oppression and loss and hurt and pain and anger.
I looked in the eyes of this woman who was no older than my own mother of 55 years and saw the hurt in her eyes. Maybe her escape from her pain was to remove herself mentally from her body. As she continually mumbled and wrote, my heart hurt for her and the family that probably thought that prayer was enough. Or maybe she finds comfort in not even noticing that she’s mentally not present.
Although it’s barely addressed in the African American community, mental illness holds a massive stigma. We do not blame an individual for diabetes or high blood pressure or cancer or any other medical ailment, however, often the blame is shifted on individuals that suffer from mental illness which also includes substance abuse. With that being stated, often times there is a conflict with what is a construct of what we can change and what is real.
With mental illness often frowned upon, it creates an environment for stigma, a stigma that lingers like the smell of sewage with no sump pump.
No one wakes up and decide that they want to have a disorder of the brain that impacts their behavior just like no one begs to have cancer, Alzheimer’s or a stroke. The negativity that surrounds individuals with mental illness breeds prejudice and discrimination. The misinformed spew ignorance, and that’s no different than someone who promotes racism, sexism or ageism.
I wonder, will the fight over Second Amendment rights continue to assume that individuals with mental illnesses are creating the problem. Sometimes the tongue is mightier than the sword, which continues to become an issue in saving lives. Often times we blame others so as not to confront the real issues of how we lack as individuals. This country blames the blacks for stealing education and houses, the Mexicans for stealing our American jobs, the mentally ill for being violent.
If we checked in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), ourselves or someone we know will fall in any particular category.
Currently we have a president who appears to suffer from impulsive control and narcissistic personality disorder, and we the people elected this individual –– evidence that we continue to suffer from the wasted mind syndrome. Allowing others to think for us and acting on it. The next time you see an individual suffering from any form of mental illnesses, remember that it could be you or maybe it is you and the illness has not manifested yet. Have compassion, be the change you wish to see in the world.
Food for thought. Keeping it real.