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Sunday, January 31, 2010

The elephant in the room.

More like the polar bear in the tent. A pink polar bear. With satanic symbols burned into it's fur. This is how we view mental illness in our culture. No one will discuss the beast. No one wants to even discuss wether it exists or not. People rush to convince you that it does not exist, that the best way to make it go away is to ignore it, give it different names, pray.

In the mean time, it is eating our children. One by one.

Just thinking about this topic makes me uncomfortable. I guess that's why I am writing about it now. Because I am fascinated by the uncomfortable. I am fascinated by why something becomes uncomfortable, how it's born, how it's grown, how it's fostered and cared for. It doesn't just show up over night. Not this type of "uncomfortable."

I guess it's because I know quite a few people that suffer from mental illness. I know quite a few people that have killed themselves, or attempted to kill themselves. I know quite a few people that suffer in silence. I watched as their attempts at calling attention to their illness or depression is smothered and hidden and painted in shame. It's something I don't really know how to deal with in others, I don't possess the tools.

Where are these tools? And why are they gone?

As an old culture I know we had a way to deal with mental illness, every culture has a way to deal with them, just as every culture has a way to deal with illness. So what happened to ours? Why is there a big gap that keeps swallowing our people whole? I know when the missionaries came they came with several hats. Doctor, priest, teacher. I know they told us as we watched our loved ones die from disease that it was because of our lack of faith in God that helped the disaster happen. Maybe, just maybe, we inherited a misunderstanding. Maybe we inherited that shame in our souls. A shame that was planted by opportunity....

Before anyone gets started, no I am not anti-Christianity. Quite the opposite really. I am very religious. I never attend church because I feel we are always at church, worshipping God. It's a very odd way to worship, but it works in my mind. I also believe that religion is a double sided coin. It's beautiful and creates a beautiful relationship with our Creator, but since it is humans that worship it is also flawed with many human things......including human error, and human flaws, and we know that the original missionaries made many mistakes, wether they meant to or not.

Back to the topic.

Mental illness.

Why won't anyone talk about it? Why don't we have a system in place to deal with these normal human ups and downs? I know from experience that if an alcoholic wants to get help and enter a program of any type they have to first be convicted of a major crime. That it has to be court ordered. And the same goes for those that suffer from severe mental illness. Where are the preventive measures? Where are the alternative cultural paths?

We leave these people to deal with it on their own. We abandon them to fight a war with bare hands. It hurts just thinking about it. I have seen the faces of the survivors, the confusion, the guilt, the mental pain. And we give them no tools to deal with it. We provide no way to deal with survivors guilt. We provide no tools to cope.

If we did then I would not feel uncomfortable talking about it. No one would feel uncomfortable talking about it. There would already be a system in place to provide several paths of healing. And that damned polar bear in the tent would not exist, eating our children.

I think he is glaring at me.


  1. I guess I have different view of things as an individual with developmental disability and mental illness I see many different perspectives.

    First off. I don't think I am eaten by a polar bear. I am the polar bear. I am the polar bear with pink fur born into a village of white furred bears. They gawk at us, ask questions or ignore us. We are looked upon as a freak, born with defect that cannot be cured and something to be abhorred.

    I was born with bi-polar and high functioning autism. I wasn't eaten by a big monster, this is something that is just part of me. Like my hair, white skin, sex and eye color. People have no idea how to approach us, they either make us feel guilty and shameful for who I am, try to fix me when I didn't ask for it when I do ask for help ignore my condition completely.
    "You can talk and hold a job surely your are not autistic."
    "You have good grip with reality surely you are not manic."

    I can't win with people, I don't want to be saved or have the Christan god save my soul. If I want healing let me find my own path. If I ask for help. Help me, don't come to me with false fearful pity. My father is an alcoholic and one with bi-polar. I don't pity my father or wonder why their aren't services in place. Many of the problems he faces are the ones he created through his own choices.

    As someone that is fighting for rights for people with developmental disabilities and is eager for people to take seriously and do not turn their heads away when we pink furred bears ask for someone to help us when we need housing, transportation and medicine.

    I guess a better analogy Nuna is not that mental illness is the pink furred bear in the tent but it's the stigma of being mentally disabled.

    I want people to take me seriously not run away in fear. I swear. I am not a monster.

    I am sorry I don't make any sense at all this is just a very powerful topic for me.

  2. Mary turned me onto your blog....Im a writer in NYC, I can't stop....I wanna know what yer influences are, as in writers....also, I can , sorta, relate, Im "bipolar" and also mixed, my family is half native, half irish, always we never knew where we belonged, truth be told I never felt comfy anywhere but alone....reading, or in nature...anyway, very good writing, love it.....

  3. Hita Herman!

    Thanks for enjoying my blog :) sometimes I feel like I babbling so it's nice to hear feedback!

    As for influences. I am very random. My ultimate favorite writers are sci-fi and fantasy writers. I am always of the opinion that it is harder to convince me to love something that does not exist, than it is to convince me of something that does. I adore Orson Scott Card, Neil Gaiman (specifically American Gods), Anne McCaffrey, Tad Williams, and others. I am also known to frequent random sections and pick a book that I would never normally read...