This week I saw someone on my news feed use the word “deranged” to describe someone, so I looked it up to make sure the discomfort, irritation, and disgust I felt because of it was justified… to make sure that my sensitivity to mental illness didn’t skew my judgment. Turns out it was indeed justified.
Here’s why: If you look up the word on the internet you are of course going to get everything that is associated with that word not just its true definition; and we all know that as of late most of the nation has redefined a lot of the English language. It’s almost like words mean whatever pop culture defines it as or whatever feeling someone gets from it instead of the truth of what it is.
So when I looked up ‘deranged’ I not only got “insane, disordered, disarranged” and the “generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a loss of contact with reality,” but I also got the played up images that the media likes to use to make mental illness entertaining… horror movies.. murder/cannibalism… death metal… you know all of the things that make us desensitized to mental illness and the fact that people should actually be cared for, not written off.
Can I also just point out the seriousness and severity of that word and how it is “GENERIC?” That means its all-encompassing… does not exclude any mental disorder. I can’t be the only person who has a problem with that. Looks like mental health professionals need to start being a little more vocal about the specificity of mental illness so that people can be properly educated about it. You would think something like that can remove stigma or something…
It’s amazing how people still haven’t thought about how treating mental illness can prevent unwanted actions and save lives. Like if Aaron Alexis, the Navy Yard shooter had been properly treated and screened there is a huge chance that the horrible tragedy would have never happen.
Just a little fun fact, background/credit checks do not screen for mental illness. If a man displays “erratic behavior” (the media’s words not mine, probably quoted from someone in the know about well being of the Navy Yard shooter) that’s actually not something to be swept under the rug (as mental illness too often is); ESPECIALLY if they are working for the government. How does that happen?
Then you have media outlets reporting that Alexis never sought help for mental health issues or even cancelled VA doctor appointments. OF COURSE we should blame him for not seeking help for something he was ignorant of or in denial about BECAUSE of the very thing he needed help for, right? But in spite of his resistance to treatment for mental health SOMEONE saw the red flags and IGNORED them. It’s a shame that it takes preventable tragedies for people to pay attention to mental health and the fact that it isn’t something to turn away from.
My heart, thoughts, prayers, and condolences go out to the families of the people who were hurt and killed at the Navy Yard shooting… including the family of Aaron Alexis. The same goes out to anyone and everyone who has been hurt at the hands of untreated mental illness, and I know MANY have. That is why it is time to make mental illness a priority so that people aren’t physically impacted by it.