Identify what is most important )0( Eliminate everything else
The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. Dr. Paul Farmer
The suffering of others is not alleviated when no one knows about it.
There is no one right way to live. Daniel Quinn Ishmael
The only thing that you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right sort of people.
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. Kurt Vonnegut

Sunday, August 11, 2013

mental illness - how you doin'?

I might as well begin directing addressing it.  I have depression, some kind of generalized anxiety disorder and PTSD.  The short version is:  I be crazy.  I am working on greater mental health.  I take medication and do talk therapy.  Both help.  But, the truth is that I have crappy brain chemistry and that I always will. 

So, anyway, post-traumatic stress disorder.  This belongs to what I think of as heroes.  Military personnel, police, fire fighters, you know. those who give the most to the rest of us.  They suffer from this PTSD because of the extraordinary circumstances of their work and the consequences of surviving that work.

Except that my beliefs about PTSD were only partially correct.  Much to my surprise, but mostly alarm, even plain old crazy and crazy acting folk like me can have it as well.  There was a sentencing hearing on Friday for a man in a major Midwest city who used his post-active military PTSD as the reason for killing his wife, who just happened to be a police officer.

He had earlier said that he killed his wife because he had been talking a lot about committing suicide and that his wife told him that if he did that, that she would kill herself as well.  So, he shot and killed her because he did not want her to miss out on heaven, something that his religious beliefs said she would.  He was emotional at that hearing, and no one will likely know what the truth of any of this might be, or how many truths there are.

But, the important part of this is that untreated PTSD makes it into the news all too often, and for all the darker reasons.  Earlier last week PTSD was rejected as a motive in another murder case.

Like all mental illnesses, it takes a village...

Most people believe that they are not acquainted with anyone who has PTSD.  The chances are a bit more than likely that they are.  Amongst the many faces of stigma connected to mental illness, PTSD might be the most stigmatized and misunderstood.  Sick, huh?  Societally sick, as most of the PTSD sufferers (my guess, having no statistics at hand) are connected to our military actions, another heinous issues that I simply cannot address now. 

Our military men and women give their lives in all kinds of ways and we honor and reward them by fussing about diagnosis and treatment.  That aspect is improving.  I guess.  On a big-picture, program-focal and positive-propaganda level, but the truth is that, for a myriad of reasons, not the least being financial, treatment is much less than it should be, than it should be.  Than it should be.

I do not have the answers, but, sure as hell, someone does.

This information is from National Center for PTSD,

10 Steps to Raise PTSD Awareness

  1. Know more about PTSD.
    Understand common reactions to trauma and when those reactions might be PTSD.
  2. Challenge your beliefs about treatment. PTSD treatment can help. We now have effective PTSD treatments that can make a difference in the lives of people with PTSD.
  3. Explore the options for those with PTSD.
    Find out where to get help for PTSD and learn how to choose a therapist. Also see our Self-Help and Coping section section to learn about peer support and other coping strategies.
  4. Reach out. Make a difference.
    You can help a family member with PTSD, including assisting your Veteran who needs care. Know there is support for friends and family too.
  5. Know the facts.
    More than half of US adults will experience at least one trauma in their lifetime. How common is PTSD?. For Veterans and people who have been through violence and abuse, the number is higher.
  6. Expand your understanding.
    Learn about assessment and how to find out if someone has PTSD. Complete a brief checklist or take an online screen to see if a professional evaluation is needed. June 20th is National PTSD Screening Day.
  7. Share PTSD information.
    Share handouts, brochures, or wallet cards about trauma and PTSD.
  8. Meet people who have lived with PTSD.
    Visit AboutFace, an online gallery dedicated to Veterans talking about how PTSD treatment turned their lives around.
  9. Take advantage of technology.
    Download PTSD Coach mobile app and treatment companion apps in the National Center for PTSD's growing collection of mobile offerings.
  10. Keep informed.
    Get the latest information about PTSD. Sign up for our PTSD Monthly Update, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
United States Department of Veterans Affairs
National Center for PTSD

National Institutes of Health
National Institute of Mental Health
Post-Traumantic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

If you know me personally, most of the time I look fine, normal.  Even when things are bad, you most likely will not notice.  My default behavior is to go quiet.  I go silent.  Withdraw.  Dead.  I have learned that it is safer to do so. 

Those of us who are so disabled by our mental illness that we try to hide it are legion.  We take our medications and faithfully attend therapy.  We join support groups and educate ourselves.  We work our asses off to be as well as possible.  We do our best.

Other people with mental illness(es) have different defaults, based on their own experiences.  Sometimes they are loud.  Sometimes they can be disruptive.  Other times they can seem out of control, dangerous, threatening.  Maybe all of those things.  You might not like it, and, please believe this, those people do not like it either.

You know, no one has to do anything proactive. 
No one has any responsibility to do anything they do not want to do. 
No one carries any accountability to do a damn thing.

Mental illness is not a choice, no matter how it came to be, crappy brain chemistry, other physical imbalances, abuse or traumatic experiences that cause changes in our brains.

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