I live in a bubble. Mental health. I read about it. I work in it. I have friends who share my bubble. My family at times join me.
I find myself falling into the common fault of life in a bubble, I think the full world exists in the bubble.
I make assumptions. Everyone knows proper language to use in discussing mental health. Everyone understands the impact of mental illness. Everyone respects those with mental illness. They all get it.
Am I naïve or simply wishing?
When I venture beyond my bubble, I realize the world beyond tends to be harsh.
In Canada, one in five people will have a mental illness at some time in any given year. In the United States, it’s one in four. The person with mental illness gets it. We need to educate the rest. That’s the challenge. It is a vast undertaking. For a source of hope, look at how cancer is now openly discussed and understood.
I get concerned when I see someone with mental illness struggling. Some people have little or no support. I had a former girlfriend explain she had had a mental breakdown in her driveway. As she sat there, she called her sister, and the help offered was to “Get up.” Her breakdown wasn’t acknowledged and she had to struggle alone to regain some composure.
Proper context for human behavior better explains the treatment that people receive.
Relating a situation to a more common occurrence is one of the best means to demonstrate an unsettling event. It forces us to look at ourselves. Looking in the mirror can be difficult.
Imagine, being collapsed on the sidewalk, in pain, with a broken arm. People would stop to help. Readily addressed by strangers. Next, imagine being collapsed on the sidewalk, with a broken mind, in mental distress. I wonder how many people would stop and help. Let’s see that set up and monitored on video as a social experiment. Perhaps I would be pleasantly surprised. I hope!
It hurts when I hear of people who wait months to see a doctor or therapist. Again, if the person had a broken arm, it would be set within a couple of hours. A person with a broken piece of her mind is sent home from the ER to return for an appointment weeks or months down the road. Little respect shown by the so-called system. I don’t accept the “system” excuse as the reason people don’t get treated well. It is real people who constitute the system; it’s people who make decisions to provide assistance or not.
I get troubled when I hear improper language used to talk to people with mental illness. The health care system is full of such people. I have been witness to too much ill treatment.
I was recently at the ER in my local hospital. A person obviously in mental distress was brought in by two police officers. I watched and listened. The tone of the questions asked by the triage nurse was terribly dismissive and condescending. It was difficult to witness let alone, I can imagine, be the subject of such poor treatment and lack of respect.
Can we educate the rest of society?
I like to fix things. I tended to be the fixer at my law firm. I dealt with the worst of files, those that went astray. I guess the problem ahead needs a lot of fixers. I am not alone in this movement. I use the word “movement” because I suggest that is what we need.
It’s a civil rights movement.
Seeing the harshness of the world deflates my bubble. It doesn’t go completely flat though.
I return to the bubble, but will never stop advocating for the rest of the world to clue in and recognize the need for proper respect. Once we receive respect, the rest will follow.
“Back to life, back to the present time,
Back from a fantasy
Yeah, tell me now, take the initiative
I’ll leave it in your hands until you’re ready oh
However do you want me,
However do you need me”
~ Soul II Soul
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