Mental illness is not a crime.
And yet, this country is so ill-equipped to properly treat people with mental illness. We don’t talk about it; we keep it buried in the corner, we hide the behavioral health floor within hospitals and tell loved ones “no one by that name is checked in here”. We send our mentally ill to doctors and therapists who don’t understand the disease; who try to prescribe it out of their office after an hour on the chair. We refer to people who are mentally ill as “crazy’, “nut job”, “looney”, “bat shit crazy”, or any other number of derogatory terms. When we realize what we are doing isn’t working (surprise!), and we can’t deal with our mentally ill anymore, we stop dealing with them all together.We put them in group homes or nursing homes or we altogether forget where we put them and then they end up homeless.
If you haven’t guessed it yet, I am dealing all too closely with a loved one suffering from mental illness. Multiple mental illnesses, possibly. And it has been the most soul crushing, eye opening, heart-breaking, infuriating experience I have had in my adult life. One that makes me want to start a national conversation and debate about how f’d up the state of mental health care (or lack thereof) is in this country. And yet so many of us are afflicted by it. Continue reading