An overwhelming ache of feeling inadequate has consumed every aspect of her being. She tries but fails to pull herself from the edge of depression, only to realize that her few found moments of relief has been quickly swept away by the ever present sting of pain that resides in the pit of her stomach. She is in a constant battle with the belief that there has to be more to life than pain, yet the fact that she is undeniably being tormented by the voices in her head is overshadowing every ounce of hope that she could ever fathom. “Just end it all….” the voice orders. She contemplates taking her, the alternate that abides in her mind, up on her offer. She sees a window of opportunity and realizes that if she really wants to kill herself, she’ll need to act fast. Then a feeling of peace envelopes her and she misses her moment of bravery. The moment where she felt like she had enough balls to end her own life. “What was I thinking?” She slaps her hand against her forehead as she realizes that had she gone through with committing suicide her children would have been left alone in a world that does not give a damn about them. “I can’t leave my babies. I’ll just have to kill us all.”
Now that I’m sure I have your attention, if for no other reason than for you to assume that I must be crazy, because there is no way in the world a sane person could have just come up with the imagery that I’ve just laid before you. Join me as we delve into a topic whose stigma is often tainted by shame and leaves those who are most often affected, too embarrassed to admit that they are suffering, Mental Illness.
This past weekend a woman was arrested for killing her youngest two children and injuring her oldest two. She claims to have been performing and exorcism. I’m sure that the first thing that came to many of the minds of those who are reading this is she needs to be locked up for the rest of her life and I would argue that imprisonment is a place that she probably knows all too well. Maybe you’re one of the others who will insist that justice won’t be served unless she too loses her life, which is probably what she already wants more than anything in this world, to die. Living with knowing that the lives of your very own children were cut short by your hands has to be a burden that no one wants to carry. But living with that knowledge while already battling the feelings of insanity, has to be far worse. She was suffering from mental illness. A mental state that was already on the radar of those who had the authority to do something about it. Her mental incompetence had been flagged before. Her story is just one, there are many who find themselves enthralled in mental battles. According to The National Institute of Mental Health 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 or older, about 1 in 4 adults suffer from ADHD, Anxiety, Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Panic Disorder, Depression, OCD, PTSD, Schizophrenia and other mental diseases in any given year and just over 20 percent of children also live with a debilitating mental illness.
Mental illness/disorders are defined as medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity to cope with the ordinary demands of life, a mind disorder.
There are many causes of mental disorders. Your genes and family history may play a role. Also, your life experiences, stress and history of abuse may have had its hand in your psychological well-being. Traumatic brain injury, exposure to viruses and toxic chemicals while pregnant, exposure to extreme violence, use of illegal drugs and having a chronic disease such as cancer may also be culprits. Whatever the reason, mental illness is prevalent and its affects are staining the fabric of our history. A history rattled by stories of mothers killing their children, children killing their parents, children slaying their peers and sky rocketing suicide rates. Not all of the cases of those suffering end in violence but nevertheless, Mental Illness is very serious and those experiencing it often feel that there are in constant torment.
It’s easy to be emotionally moved by these stories but once the media stops it’s reporting often those who are sufferers once again find themselves silenced by a sense of abnormality. They are trapped by a feeling of being misunderstood and can we blame them? “Being Crazy”, which is what the general population refers to it as, has been pegged for humor; it has taken on an unintentional lightheartedness. Inadvertently Mental Illness has garnered much laughter. I can admit that I’m certainly guilty of saying things such as, “Girl you’re crazy” or “This is driving me insane”, I was not thinking about those who really are experiencing a sense of insanity.
There is a bright side to all of this, Mental Illness can be overcome and recovery is possible. Most people diagnosed with mental illness can find relief by actively participating in individual treatment plans.
If you are one of those who feel the sting of the world’s ignorance, I offer my apologies and know that you really aren’t alone. You should know that what you’re experiencing is more common than what meets the eye and it is not a death sentence. It is an opportunity to share your experiences and knowledge on an otherwise silent issue.
The thing that I’m taking from this new found knowledge is that, “Being different is not wrong because all of us have things that challenge and therefore make us different, but a negative approach towards a person/persons whose differences are not the ones that I am faced with is completely wrong.”
If you need more information about mental illness please visit: www.nami.org