Ever notice how all mental disorders are just, for the most part, grouped together as if they are all the same? Maybe it’s just me, but I haven’t even heard mental health professionals (recently) speak of mental illness as if it is complicated. Society simplifies it so much and it adds to the lack of education and stigma surrounding it.
I’ve spent some time in mental health hospitals on two occasions (yes, as a patient) and found that it is the case there as well. Both times it was difficult being grouped with people who didn’t understand where I was coming from, though we experienced therapy as a group as if we were all the same. Sure it gave me a better understanding and compassion of people who deal with dementia, schizophrenia, addiction, and other disorders… but it left me wondering why one on one care was so minimal.
Maybe it comes down to money, which is almost always the issue. Mental health professionals aren’t cheap so its probably easier to just group everyone together for 50 minute sessions and ask general questions without getting to the root of any issues (since there isn’t time to do so). This of course makes it easier to act like everything is OK and get out of the hospital that much faster without any real healing taking place.
At the same time, however, there have been times in my life where I have almost felt inclined to go back to those hospitals. Most people I’ve encountered there find it easier to extend their stay there or go back because it provides comfort not only in the literal sense (with food, shower, and a bed to sleep in) but in the sense that even with a variety of different mental disorders people feel that they belong there. It’s OK to be suicidal, depressed, and anxious in a closed off environment where no one else has to deal with it because you’re tired of feeling like you’re a burden on others… I know I’m not the only person who has ever felt that way.
I believe this is why we need to think outside the box. There are plenty of people who are highly functioning, yet have extreme low points… myself included.. as well as people who live obviously with mental disorders. Not everyone is the same and should not be grouped together and be silenced as if they are. They shouldn’t be disregarded and closed off so because society stays ignorant if we continue to act like it doesn’t exist or that it only does in extreme circumstances.
The time is now to end the stigma and educated ourselves on the things people deal with.. to have compassion and know that just about everyone we encounter might be going through something so deep that they feel they have to hide it. And finally, we have to be the change and show the world that its OK to be open and not be so limited. Its time to save lives, not contribute to death.
Photo Credit: Rick Perez Photography