Whack-jobs

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It’s National Mental Health Awareness Month.

If you weren’t previously aware of it, let me break it to you gently:  some of us are whack-jobs.

There are 3 types of Mental/Emotional disorders. Only three. There are disorders caused by psychological trauma – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder being the most important of these. There are disorders of brain function – schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder are examples. Then there are disorders caused by organic brain damage, like Anterograde Amnesia – the inability to form new memories.

All Mental and Emotional disorders are as real as any metabolic disorder. They are sicknesses – just like diabetes, or cancer, or heart disease. And yet, for the most part, people simply don’t think of them that way: they are signs of weakness, or the sufferer is playing for attention, or it’s all a big con, or “not sure, but it’s shameful and I don’t want to think about it!”

It’s not shameful. No more than diabetes is. And yet, I feel ashamed. Embarrassed. When my symptoms are bad, most of the time I e-mail the boss that I have the flu. There are times when I simply can’t bring myself to admit that I can’t come to work because I can’t stop crying, or  I can’t come to work because I’m so manic I can’t concentrate on anything.  I’m a grown man – a highly educated grown man. I know my disorder has a physical cause. I know I was born this way. I know that I did nothing to bring it on myself. I know that there’s nothing to be ashamed of!

I’m ashamed anyway.

I can’t explain why, other than to say, even with all I know about these disorders, I still have been molded by this culture to think of these disorders as shameful.

I don’t know what can be done to change that, but it needs to change.

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~ by dourscot on May 15, 2013.

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