Ken Harrison 6:30 p.m., July 29
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- Vista Blues
It's Not Easy Being Mentally Ill
"Before you judge me...take a look at you!" --Metallica, from "Holier Than Thou." on the "BLACK" album.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Why the nimrods who picked this month to foster awareness of mental health clients and issues is beyond me. For it was in May that the Romans honored their dead...which is also why you see very few May weddings as well.
I have been dealing with my illness since I was but a tyke. Nearly forty years later, I daresay I have seen some progress...but we still have a way to go before our society stops treating the infernal pantheon of mind-and-mood disorders called "mental illness" for anything other that what it is.
All mental illnesses are, indeed, serious. Serious enough that professional help is required to treat the illness-at-hand. The results of not taking care of your illness can mean that your illness will take care of you...by wasting you via self-destruction. Be it fast (a one-way swan dive from the Coronado Bridge), or slow (chain-smoking, drinking to excess, self-medicating with street drugs), there is one factor common to both ways--your demise is assured!
Recovery from a mental health crisis is long, slow, and expensive. Besides talk therapy, you often will need to take at least one medication. Now, do not let those "not in the know" feed you a bunch of Bravo Sierra about you "not needing your happy pills." In their ignorance lay the seeds of your returning to a terminal "downward spiral." If you require meds, you need to take them according to your doctor's orders. With them in your system, your ability to properly function in daily life increases. However, if the meds-in-question are giving you nasty side-effects, talk to your doc before telling your meds to take a walk! That is why your psychiatrist is in the loop regarding your treatment regimen...their training as a medical doctor is invaluable to proper regulation of your medications.
Still, many folks see the mentally ill as they see a pet rat. With the rat, they often get "The Willard Syndrome"...an unreasonable fear of rats brought on by a two-bit horror film called--natch--"Willard." With we mental health clients, it's "The Blood-Crazed Psycho" syndrome, in that a lot of folks think that a typical mental health client is a violent-and-dangerous psychopath one step from a gore-filled killing spree. This stereotype can be laid at the feet of the slasher flicks of the 1970's-1990's genre. Lots of blood, gore, nubile victims--and at least two untreated psychotics running around with sharp instruments and power tools in every flick.
It is no small wonder that some bozo in Sacramento hasn't tried to re-open the State Hospital System and shove every "Psycho"--treated-and-otherwise--back into the hospitals, where most of us do not belong in the first place. With the recent budget slashings, however, that greatest fear of all may yet come to fruition.
In the end, however, you will, indeed, find that any treated mentsal health client isn't in the least a killer waiting to unleash their fury. In fact, we clients can often be hard-to-tell from the general population...until you ask us.