I know that it’s gotten to a point where every month, every week, every day it seems is Something Something Day, Week or Month. But since it is Memorial Day today and May is Mental Health Awareness Month, both of them seem to go hand and hand.
Ask yourself. How many people buried at Arlington National Cemetry died at their own hands? How many of our service members took their own lives? How many of them descended down in a spiral of drugs and/or alcohol? How many of them ended up homeless and died on the streets or in hospitals?
I never will forget how non-chalant a WWII veteran said to me that he had turned to drinking after coming back from the war. It was almost like it was common and expected. But many services members have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder or shell shock. Whatever you call it, they had it and will continue to have it. The Old West grew out of Civil War vets trying to seek a new life in a new location.
You can see the grimness of World War I, the Great War, in the cinema of the 1920s and 1930s. Poet Wilfred Owen who was killed in 1918 in WWI wrote about the horrors of war. And people suffered it in WWII. But unfortunately, 1950s conformity forced people to shelter it from public view.
So, they turned to drinking. It was still perfectly acceptible for many men to hang around in bars, sit around the poker table or hang out in the backyard patios and get drunk. No one said anything. No one dared to say anything as the man was the lord of the manor and what they said went.
But a lot of these men were suffering. And they didn’t get the help they needed. Sadly, they projected it on to their kids. And the Baby Boomers had to make a difficult choice when they became adults. Do they finally seek the help they got from the toxicity and abusive households they grew up in? Or they do they hide it the way their parents and grandparents did and just pass it along to their children?
Getting help for mental health is still one of the biggest stigmatas we have. Even though many people have said that mental health has an effect on physical help, people still refuse to seek treatment. Even worse, those around them tell them they don’t need it. And they judge them and criticize.
I remember an episode of the TV show Criminal Minds in which character actor Glynn Turman played a somewhat bitter middle-age man whose philosophy to dealing with his son’s depression following a break-up was to force him to do manual work every day. Turman, who is black, said his excuse for this was that the enslaved people during the pre-Civil War days didn’t have time to be depressed. But they were. I’m sure many of them went to sleep every night crying wondering why this all was happening.
Just because people decades ago didn’t seem to have these problems doesn’t mean they didn’t. They just didn’t talk about. Many well-educated, talented and intelligent people ended up as farmers and ranchers or working in coal mines or steel factories because those around them told them it didn’t matter what they could draw, how they could sing or what was their reading level I’m pretty sure they were depressed and had to deal with lives they didn’t want.
Mental health issues have always been the butt of jokes on TV shows and in movies. This is part of the problem. We’re turning a serious condition into a punchline. You wouldn’t make fun of someone on dialysis or going through chemotherapy. So why do we mock people who have mental health issues? Mainly because we not ready to take it seriously.
Also, too many people have associated wealth and material possessions with healthy living. It’s the old belief that you can’t be depressed or have anxiety if you have a big house or losts of money in the bank. In other words, mental health is a lower-income issue. And therefore, it’s really an issue about people “not wanting to work” or “who are just lazy.”
On April 30, singer Naomi Judd took her own life. She had reportedly been suffering from mental health her whole life. Her brother died of leukemia when he was 17 in 1965 when she was still a kid herself. At 18, she had given birth to her first daughter, who would go on to be known as Wynona Judd. But her boyfriend, and Wynona’s biological father, would dump her. That’s a lot for someone to go through in just a matter of a few years, regardless if it’s 1965 or 2022.
Post-partum depression something many women deal with that we never really want to talk about. A recent arc on 9-1-1 this past season examine this issue in which Maddie (Jennifer Love Hewitt) struggled with it as well as suicidal thoughts and an attempt. What happens around us affects us. And we can’t buy our way out of it. We need to take it more seriously.
Earlier this year, I lost my girlfriend who died in early February. We had plans to get married at one time and start a new life together. My girlfriend struggled with grief and depression. We knew each other from high school where people were always the best to her. She was seen more as a threat because she was very pretty and competition for the other girls.
It wasn’t an easy time for me either. And I hated a lot of people. I still do. I still have no desire to see any of them 25 years after graduating. I also think if I was to see some of them, I might do something I shouldn’t.
Having to deal with the last four months of your life suddenly changing without any choices you made is hard. There’s some days I want to ram my fists through the walls, but what will it accomplish except broken hands. I already have arthritis in them anyway. Why hurt them more?
Alcohol isn’t an issue because with my medication, I have to be careful. I should see a professional but with my insurance, it’s slim pickings. And the ones I’ve checked on don’t have the best reviews. I don’t know if there’s group therapy. I really haven’t looked into it.
I’ve struggled with these problems for years. There’s days in which I don’t want to do anything. And I mean, I don’t even want to watch anything. I turn something on for noise. I have back and knee pain so bad that I can only do so much around the house before I have to sit down. I still try to exercise at least three days a week but I don’t want to be one of these people who lives at the gym.
The problem is I have too much anxiety. While people hate self-checkout at stores, I love it. Why? Because the self-checkouts aren’t as claustrophobic as the regular aisle. I don’t like people being right behind me by a few feet. And sometimes I have a lot of items and I feel like the people are about to say something because they have just a few items. I think the only thing that keeps them from mouthing off is that they see the walking cane I have or the motorized cart I’m in.
As someone uses this, I’m not embarrassed. But we’ve made people think that the use of wheelchairs, walkers or canes makes them feel worse. I don’t like all that “handicapable” word usage. We’re doing the same thing with a physical disability as we are with a mental disability.
It’s like the line of dialogue from Joker, “The worst part of having a mental illness is that people expect you to behave as if you don’t.” I’ve run into this same problem with people on social media who don’t like what I post. I’m interfering with a very small aspect of their life where everything to them should be perfect. They don’t want to see a post they don’t agree with. Rather than block it, they feel the need to criticize me for ruining their happy -go-lucky jolly life.
For a while we did turn people away and just lock them up. It’s been 50 years since Geraldo Rivera exposed the horrors at Willowbrook on Staten Island in New York City. That was the way we dealt with mental health and people with developmental disabilities during that “great era” that was the post-WWII/pre-Vietnam era. And rather than learn from it, we elected “that sumbitch Reagan” whose idea was that anyone with mental health problems is just lazy.
Those affected by this were people who had served in the Vietnam War or still suffering from the effects of the Jim Crow era. People don’t associate mental health with anyone but white people, but many black people and especially black women don’t get the help they need. They don’t even get the fucking medical help they need. Wanda Sykes has said she had to do a double masectomy and was prescribed Ibuprofen.
And now that we’re still trying to come to grips with what happened at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, the issue turns to mental health. It’s not a gun issue, it’s a mental health issue, the politicians say. Fox News and other conservative news pundits only want to blame menal health. Conservative politicians like Ted Cruz and Greg Abbott say it’s a mental health issue.
Okay! If it’s not a gun issue and a mental health issue, despite none of them having a medical degree, let’s provide more access across the board to people with mental health issues. Well, that’s not what they’re talking about. They’re just deflecting the problem.
And people who are doctors and pscyhologists have repeatedly said over and over that the majority of people who have mental and developmental disabilities are more likely to be the victims than the aggressors. It happens a lot. People are treated badly the way they grow up, they develop an inferior complex. Anytime someone every was nice to them or paid them a compliment, they did it as a joke. So now, in adulthood, they can’t take any compliments seriously without thinking it’s a joke.
Speaking of my lovely town I grew up in, which is represented by Majorie Taylor Greene in Congress, they had their own ways of dealing with people. I used to help out with Special Olympics because I had to do community service as part of National Honor Society. I, along with other volunteers, would notice a lot of these kids had no developmental disabilities. Their issues were that they came from lower-income families. So the school administrators just stuck them in the special ed classes or as we called it, “psycho ed.”
What was funny about this was there was one young woman who was in this program. She would later go on to work at the Blockbuster in the town, working her way up to a manager position. And she seemed about as normal as anyone else in town. She was very helpful and very nice to all customers. What was her problems? I don’t know. I don’t know whatever happened but I hope she went on to have a very good adult life.
Ronald Reagan hasn’t been President since 1989. It’s time to admit the failures of his administration and have other politicians step up and focus more on mental health. But more importantly, we need to support each other. We’re not perfect. I had a friend in college who seemed normal. He was athletic and good at academics. However, he couldn’t read this blog and comprehend it. If someone read it to him, he could. He had to have audio books. And it’s perfectly okay.
People struggle with dyslexia, anxiety, panic attacks and so many more things. Past traumas affect us. So many people have been victims of domestic abuse and/or sexual abuse/assaults. You can’t just pick up the pieces and start over from that. We need to realize that people need help.
But sometimes, it’s not past traumas. People suffer from schizophrenia and bipolar disorders while not having one single traumatic experience. But we’ve used it for entertainment purposes as a joke or a plotline. People have panic attacks. I have them too. I have anxiety problems with thinking too much ahead. I wash my hands too much that I have to use lotion even in the middle of summer. We shouldn’t treat obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) as a joke either.
What’s worse for so many people is all the traumas they’ve had to endure in the past 20-25 years. There are people who have lived through the horrors of 9/11 and the terrors of the Jan. 6 insurrection coup attempt. There have been two wars and one Great Recession. And it looks like now, we’re dealing with the Great Inflation. On top of that, Covid-19 is still a hot button issue. I have a friend who is recovering from it. My father still has longing effects from nearly a year ago.
All of these problem are going on with not a week going by without a mass shooting spree at a grocery store, community event or school. Imagine the effects this has on younger people. Imagine what it has on older people who thought the autumn of their years was going to be more relaxing.
And pardon me for saying this, all you religious and Christian people need to sit down and shut up about the “End Times” nonsense. It sickens me that Christians, the ones who should be on the frontlines helping other, are so quick to do abosolutely nothing. Why? Because they believe we’re living in the End of Days and they’re more than happy to watch it all go down because they feel the Rapture is about the happen. Well, the Rapture isn’t in the Bible and it’s manmade, just like a lot of other things with religion. Even the Book of Revelations has had Biblical scholars questions exactly what it meant.
I’ve often noticed that there are less “wrongfully accused” movies and TV shows now than there were when I was younger. I think the O.J. Simpson trial implanted too much in Middle America’s psyche that he was set up by the police to take the fall. Since he was acquitted, you hardly ever see a movie focusing on the “wrongfully accused” protagonist.
Our entertainment is a reflection of our times. So many conservativs and dudebros are screaming that Dave Chappelle can’t make transphobic jokes anymore. But as June is pride month, we’re more accepting of those in the LGBTQIA community thanks to the portrayals in media. We also need to portray those with mental health issues more seriously. It’s no laughing matter.
It would also help if we got some of these people out of elected offices who still think homeless people are lazy or children with autism or ADHD need to be belt-whipped within an inch of their life. Thankfully, my native state of Georgia told that crazy psycho woman Kandiss Taylor they didn’t want her as governor. And people like Taylor and MTG need psychological help. We don’t need them in office.
I guess if you need an example of what things have been like for a while, it’s like we’ve let the maniacs take over the insane asylum.
What do you think? Please comment.