We have lost Patty Duke this week. Of course we know that she was a strong advocate for those suffering from mental illness. We need more advocates who will also bravely shine a light on the subject.;A subject that is misunderstood and sometimes even dismissed by many. It would seem that certain minority groups are less apt than many to seek help. It would seem like common sense to do so. However, reality is that people when trying to understand mental illness sometimes end up short – changing those who suffer from it with terms like: “Just get over it!” Perhaps they might say, “That was a long time ago..” and/or reminding the person of how (seemingly) other people have dealt with situations better or easier. Family and friends love and care for us, however, they can be the most insensitive people of all because they do “know” and care for us.If understanding and support can not be found there for whatever a person may be going through, other places and people may have to be sought out.
For example in grieving, there really is no timeline in doing so for the death of a loved one. However, family members may be the most insensitive people when it comes to how long a family member should be grieving for a lost one. Another example is in the case where a family is divided on issues of abuse. Perpetrators of incest, physical or mental abuse are able to do what they do to adults and children mostly because they are permitted or allowed to do so by those who choose to look the other way. Therefore it should not be a surprise that family members especially would not understand the after effects of such traumatic events.
Sometimes even people who are educationally trained in psychology have a hard time putting things in perspective when they themselves have to deal with death or abuse themselves. The same might be true when dealing with physical ailments. We should try to remember that sometimes biological and physiological issues work together to affect those who suffer from mental illnesses.
Perhaps it is fear that we ourselves have toward mental illness that make us “prejudicial” even insensitive to those we truly care about and who need our support the most. Perhaps if it was contagious like many diseases, we would be more receptive. Think of the irony in that statement.
That being said, the next time a person – especially a family member seems to be suffering from an ailment that can’t be easily seen let’s make sure we listen first and judge last. Keep an open mind because who knows when that same door might be needed to remain open for a loved one. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if that door was left wide open so that person could walk right on through? It is something for us all to think about – just saying. Please feel free to comment, as suggestions are always welcomed.Good day!