I was recently reading on a web article about the current good/bad state of mental health in America, and one man said something that stuck out to me:
… People with mental illnesses are often in denial that they are ill, or they may feel unworthy of help or convinced that they can’t get better, so they don’t even try. Many family members, too, turn a blind eye to signs of an illness that scares and embarrasses them.
It’s not surprising, then, that less than one in five people who need effective mental health care in this country receive it.
This is the biggest roadblock today to a lot of things, in my opinion. To me, being “mentally ill” or “emotionally ill” is more than just being diagnosed with a “mental disorder”. We don’t go to the doctor for every little bump, scrape or cold; we go when it’s severe enough to need an expert. But here’s the problem – people have not been, in general, learning what proper mental and emotional health means in order to properly know when it is and isn’t time to call an expert. It’s like someone getting a gash on the back of their hand, and not even bothering to properly clean and bandage it, then continues doing thing like gardening, cleaning the toilet without gloves, etc, then only go to the doctor when the gangrene has set in and the limb is almost needing to be cut right off. They keep telling people there’s nothing wrong and ignore the puss & stench oozing forth filth until it becomes so huge an issue that it cannot be hidden or ignored any longer by anyone.
Too many people seem to honestly think that a simple emotional equivalent to a cut needs to be pushed aside and ignored, because it’s “weak” or “bad” to admit that we’re hurt. When we get hurt again and again in the same place over and over, without actually facing with and dealing with these problems, we are just making the problem worse and worse for ourselves. And these hurts have been passed down to children from parents, in the forms of taught behaviors and attitudes about how to interact with the people around us. Instead of learning how to be emotionally & mentally healthy, we’re taught how to manipulate, guilt-trip, subtly disrespect and abuse everyone around us, and only a few people willing to use critical thinking in their day-to-day lives even notice or recognize any of it, because we aren’t taught “this is how you guilt-trip a person,” we’re taught “this is how you treat a person normally.”
And we wonder why everyone around us is an asshole.
I, for one, stopped putting up with a lot of particular guilt-trips and manipulation techniques from people. I know the difference between a person and their attitudes/behaviors. I will gladly accept a person; I won’t put up with particular attitudes or behaviors. I’ll even flat-out tell you when you’re using one of these subtly abusive attitudes/behaviors; I expect people to do no different for me. I don’t care how close we are as friends; I do this because you’re my friend. I’ve already had one “friend” spend 3 days running em around in the same guilt-trip, drama-queen, “oh I’m such a victim” bullshit because she stepped on a nerve & pissed me off, I told her she did, and she decided it was soooo evil of me for having a right to be mad at her. Suffice to say she turned a small issue into an all out battle because I wouldn’t put up with any of the bullshit she kept throwing at me to try to distract from the fact she had fucked up & pissed me off. I’m still debating on whether I want to still consider her a friend or tell her to take her sick head games and fuck off.
The consept is simple – We’re all messed up in the head, and we all need to re-learn most of what we were taught about how to treat people. We also need to accept that others will see more clearly when we’re acting in ways that are damaging and hurtful, even in little ways. And we need to stop assuming there’s nothing wrong with us – we’re ALL sick; the question is merely whether we’re able to get better on our own, or if we need professional help. If you are honestly not sure, then ask a professional; that’s their job to know.
I’ll go into the other side of that equation, the professional, in a later entry.