When the weekend rolls around I tend to be like an ostrich (or cow) and bury my head in the sand. I don’t read or watch any news. I catch up on Mondays. This past Monday I read about the shooting in Arizona, which took the lives of six people, critically wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the intended target, and also wounded thirteen other innocent people. I wanted to be an ostrich again.
The question is, “why would somebody in their right mind do something like this?” The answer is, “they wouldn’t.” That then begs the questions as to whether or not Jared Loughner suffered from some form of mental illness, and if so, was it ever diagnosed and was he being treated?
I don’t know the answers to those questions, although from what I’ve read, it certainly sounded like Loughner suffers from mental illness. My real question, though, is why is it such a big deal in our society to admit to, discuss, seek treatment for, or suggest someone might have a mental illness? Mental illness is still a medical illness and nothing to be ashamed of. Is the brain not also a part of the body? The shame is when someone feels there is a stigma and doesn’t seek treatment for themselves or for a loved one, thereby going without medication or therapy and running the risk of creating all sorts of havoc.
I was reading the ever popular blog, Dooce, wherein she opened up the discussion about Loughner and mental illness, asking much the same questions as I did above. Heather Armstrong (aka Dooce) is very open about her struggle with depression and attributes her readers with saving her life, because of her openness and their caring and encouragement to seek treatment. In the comments of her post, someone suggested that a clinic modeled after Planned Parenthood, but specifically for the treatment of mental illness, would be a step in the right direction and I couldn’t agree more. Easy access to mental health treatment is a must.
A friend’s daughter, while in high school, was going through a period of undiagnosed depression. She was sleeping all the time and didn’t want to go to school or hang out with her friends – and this was a social butterfly, not a wall flower. Several of our group of friends encouraged her to take her daughter to the doctor, where she was evaluated and prescribed medication. It took a period of time adjusting her medication, but she got through it and is leading a productive, successful and happy life. It’s time in our society where we let go of the stigma and just talk to each other.
You know, this post is the last post in our first year of Vision and Verb. I didn’t want to write a post with such a heavy topic, but I just couldn’t ignore this and I honestly wouldn’t have known what else to write since this has been in the forefront of my thoughts this week, as I'm sure it has been yours. If you wanted something light and uplifting, you certainly didn't get it here today and I apologize for that. Just in case you didn’t have the opportunity to watch President Obama address the nation about the tragedy, you can listen to his speech here. Make sure you have a box of tissues close by.
“If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure its worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it isn’t on the usual plane of politics, point scoring and pettiness that drifts away in the next news cycle.” - President Obama
Join me, if you will, in a moment of silence, before you go on with your day, with thoughts or prayers for those who lost their lives and for those wounded last weekend. Include in your thoughts anyone you know that is or might be suffering from some form of mental illness. I’ll be thinking of my other friend, Irwin. When you're done, give somebody a hug. ♥