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Bearing Witness: I too Suffer

I don’t write to make money. I write to bear witness. There is a subject that I’d like to address that only seems to come up in the news at the worst of times. And that is the way the mentally ill are treated in this country.

First off, I am mentally ill. I don’t want to go into a lot of detail about it but if it brings better awareness, I certainly will do so. Just let me know. This is not the easiest thing in the world to come out publicly about. There is a huge stigma on being mentally ill, as we all know every time there is a mass shooting and we’re all blamed instead of the easy access to a military grade weapon. We’re the ones people are afraid of even if we’ve never hurt a spider. We’re the ones shot and killed when the police are called for us rather than paramedics. And we’re unarmed nearly every time and we die daily.

Yeah, they want to blame gun violence on “lack of mental health access” but nobody wants to step up and make that right. The same NRA tools running around blaming “mental health” for mass shootings are the same hypocrites that say “health care is not a right” and adamantly oppose a public health care system. The truth is, hey man, it’s the people that are not mentally ill committing the vast majority of murders. But especially the mass murder events we call wars. Those are all our politicians called our “best and brightest” out there showing how much brighter they are in the afterglow of white phosphorous dropped on children. You know, they put mentally ill people out of the military. See there? Just like in Catch 22. Classic. Therefore, the bomber pilots killing the most people on this planet are judged mentally healthy by their military doctors.

Society itself sends the cops to deal with us when we’re in crisis. And you know what? They’re not trained in that. It’s become such a problem that some police departments are training officers how to deal with the mentally ill in crisis. But understand this: Society, you are sending people you know damn well kill unarmed people who are not mentally ill. What, therefore, will happen when you send them to deal with the mentally ill? Not to mention the fact that the cops killing unarmed people are judged mentally healthy, which is why they’re awarded a badge and a gun. They have to pass a psychological test to become a cop. Old cartoons used to show white ambulances with white uniformed men carrying butterfly nets arriving to pick us up when we’re in crisis. Those days are long gone. These days it’ll be anything from two cops to a full SWAT team armed as if they’re going up against Al-Qaeda and not someone in crisis. Understand that “crisis” means sick. As in needs medical attention. Not being shot.

People don’t understand that we suffer from a chronic illness that cannot be cured. We have an invisible illness, but it is as real as cancer. But people are able to handle a loved one saying, “I have terminal cancer, so watch me die slowly daily.” People rally behind that loved one. “We’ll fight this thing together! I’m here for you every step of the way! It doesn’t change how I feel about you!” But do you know how many mentally ill people don’t hear that from loved ones? I don’t think society wants to know. The loved ones call the cops themselves sometimes. Society wants it to go away. Roll the cops, get rid of the problem. Most county hospital psychiatric wards in cities are always full with a waiting list. So, guess where we go? To jail! The solution for all American “just make it go away” problems. Well, that and just letting us become homeless which is where we arrive to in vast droves.

We are portrayed in movies as either murderous and creepy or noble and heroic. We are neither. But you have to have a hell of a lot of courage to hear the dreaded ‘diagnosis” and know that your brain is not wholly under your control. Think about that and think how you’d feel if you were told that you have to share your brain with an illness that causes behavior that will alienate you from some people. Going through “the Big D” means a different thing when the “D” is Diagnosis. You would not believe the number of times you’ll have to revisit the painful things every time you see a new therapist or intake. Ripping the scabs off again and again. But we do it. If we’re lucky. If we can afford health care. Lots of us can’t. That’s what’s called “slipping through the cracks”. Yeah, well, let me tell you something. Those “cracks” are the size of the Grand Canyon.

Depression, anxiety and mental illnesses is an invisible epidemic that is impacting tens of millions of people. You are not alone if you struggle with this most onerous hardship.

People want us to do the work, but they refuse to educate themselves on it. This is especially painful with family. With the police, of course, it is deadly. Nobody is asking people to take the DSM-IV and DSM-V to bed for a little light reading. But the stereotypes and misunderstandings are getting us killed out here. That’s on top of the people who have committed suicide because they couldn’t get access to the care they needed. Or people simply gave up on them. Hell no, I’m not saying having a family member with mental illness is easy. But damn it, do we or do we not have obligations to family anymore? Or is family something else disposable like everything else we throw away when it breaks rather than repair or patch like we used to? People are so concerned with their own comfort zones they totally miss the point that life itself is not a comfort zone and no one said it was or should be. Click To Tweet

But it’s not just families because the biggest blame belongs on society itself. They think passing Obamacare was some great act of compassion when it was just a sellout to the corporate insurance companies who I know have blood on their hands. Society accepted it, defends it, and refuses to acknowledge The Great Grand Canyon Crack the uninsured still fall through. “Oh, we can’t afford public health care…” Hey man, I’m not talking about some public playground or a city water park, I’m talking about peoples lives here! You want to sit up there and judge that people deserve to die for reasons wholly beyond their control, then do it right. Be honest about it. Get yourself into the Pentagon and work there.

I never hear the concerns about money when it comes to another war that, guess what? Creates tens of thousands more mentally ill people on top of the millions of mentally ill who weren’t in a war. Yeah, you just keep adding and adding to it but you never do anything to actually prevent what you can prevent which is another war over American ego. Think about that for a moment. You create more mentally ill people on top of those you’ve already got. People who might have gone through life without a serious mental illness, you ship them off to another McWar for reasons no one can fully explain, and they come back with PTSD. Many are in their twenties and now the rest of their lives are deeply affected. But you don’t learn from it! No! You’re so eager to get into another war, you scour the globe looking for them.

We are your brothers and sisters. We’re your mothers and fathers. Your sons and daughters. Your grandparents. Your spouses. Your friends. I am left to wonder when compassion becomes more important than money. More important than a war we have no business being in. More important than convenience. I will probably be wondering for a very long time.

This is why I write. I don’t write nice things. I write because I bear witness. That’s why. #I2Suffer

“The bluebird carries the sky on his back.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Jack Perry
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Jack Perry

Jack Perry is a writer who lives with his wife in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. When talking about the ambitions and goals of the United States government, Jack warns: "Always Assume It's A Scam." Jack writes, bakes bread, and is a Path pilgrim and wayfarer of this world.
Jack Perry
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