Social Experiment

Do what you feel in your heart to be right for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Well, here we are. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Statistically, my last blog should have resonated with many of you. I’m guessing it did, but the topic made you uncomfortable. I received exactly one comment on that post. Hmmmmm, and everyone wonders what stigma is.

Pardon my sarcasm, but obviously I’m not the ONLY one who feels stigmatized. If I were, perhaps that would explain why no one wants to admit that they struggle with the knowledge that they too are different. That without the wonders of the modern medical world, their lives would be very different. We are all quick to point fingers and happy to blame someone’s actions on their mental status. But when the rubber hits the road, support evaporates like water in the Sahara.

The news tonight covered stories about the woman in DC that ran into barricades, a man who shot his soon to be ex-wife, a veteran who is limping along and young woman who was recently traumatized in a random accident. Three of the four stories headlined with how the individuals never sought help for what appears to be mental illness. The young woman stated she could never go back into the building where the accident happened. Resilience of youth perhaps, but I suspect at some point she will be offered counseling for PTSD. So there’s our answer…blame erratic behavior on mental illness and try to comfort those who can be “saved.”

Eleanor Roosevelt really did nail it with her damned if I do, damned if I don’t statement. If I talk about mental illness, people slip off into the shadows. If I don’t talk about it, I’m as complicit as the rest of you. If I do talk about my personal issues, I become a “psych” patient. If I don’t, my doctors inadvertently do harm. If I do, my friends ignore me. If I don’t, they will never know who I am. I am the sum of my experiences, both positive and negative.

I challenge you to recognize that frailty of any kind does not make a person less human. It matters not whether it is a frailty you can obviously see or one that is invisible. And listen to your friends. Be the friend you’d like them to be for you. Don’t let the friendship evaporate because you are uncomfortable. Honestly, if I am willing to put this out into the ether, the least you can do is acknowledge that invisible disabilities do exist.

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