For Those Who Suffer...

So many things have stirred in my mind as I watch people analyze and speculate and diagnose yet another disturbed young man who did the unthinkable. For years I have worked behind the scenes to redefine the stigma attached to mental illness, and how easily we all throw around the terms crazy and insane in defining or judging those we do not understand. I have been warned many times that by coming out or speaking publicly I will be stigmatized, hold myself up to public scrutiny or possibly be unemployable, unmarriable or shunned by society. Well, those who matter and love me know, and those who don’t know most likely do not matter. Those who do matter to me are those who are unfortunate enough to suffer with a true mental illness. Those who carry the shame and confusion, swim in denial or self medicate their way through, those who beg for help in words or actions only to find no one there. Those who are lucky enough to have support or people who care, yet do not have the money or resources or insurance to do anything, or are overwhelmed by the fear and what ifs that they become paralyzed and simply hope for the best.

Well, when dealing with true mental illness, diagnosable and treatable neuropsychiatric medical diseases, there is no hoping for the best, as there is no hoping for the best for the chronic alcoholic or drug user. The end is inevitable when one goes untreated, and yesterday we clearly saw one man’s inevitable play out before our eyes. And thus, for those who suffer…

Today I am hearing at every angle the words that make my skin crawl-crazy and insane-thrown around with reckless abandon by the media, journalists, friends, families and strangers. Cursing this evil, this ugliness, this madness beyond our capacity to process. As someone who suffers, I want to share something I know for sure. Mental Illness is obvious, it is identifiable, there are signs and symptoms that show through to both the sufferer and those around them. Parents, Family, Friends and acquaintances, even the local Wawa Clerk, can see signs here and there that are obviously signals that someone is unwell, and yet when a tragedy like this strikes everyone writes it off to he was crazy or insane, when really he was sick and untreated or untreatable. The stories start to trickle out about people ignoring or deciding to do nothing when seeing signs of distress or odd behavior, and obviously all of this is irrelevant now.

Another thing that blows my mind is the pundits and even experts who are putting the Movie Theater Shooter, The Virgina Tech Killer, and Yesterday’s Perpetrator in the same category as the BTK Killer, Ted Bundy, Scott Peterson or even Bernie Madoff. Defining evil is very dangerous, and leads to no answers and a lot of questions. The practice of calling it all related and able to be defined as evil promotes and perpetuates ignorance, as well as preventing the mass understanding of what true mental illness is and is not. To even find the comparison between those who have obvious mental defects and brain diseases to those with personality disorders such as sociopathy or psychopathy diminishes the necessary and incredibly important need for a conversation about mental illness and the pressing urgency of American mental health reform and law. Our mental health system is tragically flawed, and our general scorn and fear of those who do things the average Joe can not comprehend or possibly understand becomes too overwhelming to even look at or handle.

People with serious and definable mental illness need treatment and medication to live healthy, productive lives. As long as they go unmedicated, untreated, and remain in denial or in bad circumstances the illness will just continue to manifest, and they end up where we were yesterday. True mental illness is absolutely treatable, and with therapy and conscious living episodes are entirely preventable, but if left untreated they are as deadly and destructive as cancer or heart disease. Sandusky, Peterson and Bundy, these class of predators are Psychopaths or Sociopaths that lack empathy, guilt, remorse and are devoid of conscience. They are usually predators that walk among us, often successful people in their outward lives, sometimes not, who live the Machiavellian Ends Justifies the Means mentality to a point where getting what they want is all-consuming and whatever that want is, no matter how horrible, will be achieved regardless of who gets destroyed in the process-at the end of the day to these people you nor I matter or exist other than for their own twisted pleasure or gain. These are not mentally ill-I repeat these people do not have a treatable, diagnosable medical disease that therapy medication or support can thwart or end. No medication will ever stop their behavior and paths of mass destruction. They often are so sure they are the ones who are smarter, more deserving and so far superior that there is absolutely nothing wrong with them that even if they were forced into treatment it would not help.To confuse mental illness with these cold hearted, conscienceless killers is simply false and counterproductive to encouraging change of any kind to the current system.

I remember watching as the world watched Britney Spears have her first major Manic Break unfold, and my heart broke knowing we shared a complicated dual diagnosis. I remember the shame I felt having to listen to the talking heads on HLN and TMZ feeding off of her pain and suffering with flippant remarks and destructive, insensitive judgement. She was clearly sick, something was obviously terribly wrong with this young girl that required a strong supportive family, an empathetic and excellent psychiatric staff, and time to heal and allow treatment to take her back to healthy and whole. We saw her step up to face all that happened to her, rooted for her as she healed, and watch as she has blossomed, with help and support, to better than ever. Yet I remember Nancy Grace and Jane Valez Mitchelle, (who being a recovering alcoholic became and will forever be a hypocrite in my book), snidely described bipolar disorder as the flavor of the month for psychiatrists, and Brittney was really just a spoiled rich party girl being irresponsible and using drugs and alcohol recklessly and that she should be ashamed of herself and openly calling for the removal of her children and horrible role model she was being to all the little girls who idolized her. On Oreilly Kimberly Guilfoyle laughed when bipolar came up, saying it was an excuse defense attorneys used to get their clients light sentences and slaps on the wrist. I myself experienced a taste of my own discrimination and disregard in my own harrowing experience when being questioned about what medications I was on by an LAPD Police Officer. I told him I was on Lamictal and Paxil for Bipolar disorder. He laughed, an obnoxious good long one, and said, “Right. Okay…Honey, we are all Bipolar, infact, I’m Tripolar. What a crock. If a doctor told you that you should ask for your money back.” A Cop? Really?

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