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.
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.