Empathy and Mental Illness

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by Ben Huot


You are now in the 5th Generation Subsection of the Writing Section

June 28, 2023

A friendly smile
A surprised turn of the head

Most people either ignore you
As they are more preoccupied with themselves

Some are interested in hearing
And are open to different ideas

Some are afraid and some have irrational ideas
About how they think the mentally ill act

Many different reactions
From many different people

There are few places to find useful information
So many experts in the area
Still want to deny we have a disability
Or they believe we can get past it

With each mental health prescriber I get
They have a completely different view
Of what it means to be mentally ill
And for a long time different ideas on medicines

(A severe mental illness like Schizophrenia
Is mostly treated by medicine not counseling)

And even those with advanced degrees in psychiatry
Often know little about these mental illnesses
Unless they specialize
And have extensive experience with the mentally ill

Most people who are willing to talk about mental illness
Respond quite well as they often know someone close to them
Who has dealt with similar issues

But many people have had bad experiences with the mentally ill
Or they have associated them with violence

Because they become an easy target for those
Who want simple and politically feasible answers

Unfortunately their are many stereotypes about the mentally ill
And many involve people’s strange flawed views of religion

Many who are hostile to the supernatural and faith
See mental illness as a contemporary way of saying evil
And some think we are supernaturally gifted leaders

I really don’t care what people believe in ways
That don’t impact me
As most people feel today

But the thing we are learning again
And for the first time in America to an extent
Is that what we do does affect others

This is why many successful empires throughout history
Had a common belief system

And if they were tolerant
They had a separate legal status and system
For those with pre-existing beliefs

If we cannot agree on what is right and wrong
Or how we should act in a crisis

When we cannot agree on a common historical record
Or contemporary news organization
To which we can determine what is true

When we cannot agree on what should be legal
And how we should punish criminals

When we cannot accept how we determine who is a citizen
Or the reasons we should get involved in other country’s politics

Or the priorities or basic functions of government
Or the power balance between government and industry

How we should spend common money
So much that we will not cut enough to keep our country’s credit rating

So our personal views and our political realities
Mean we live in a divided society
Without clear borders

Some of the ideas on both sides of the divide
Would have sounded like nonsense a few year ago
But today they are fighting words

And both sides appear to have gone to the extreme
The same amount at the same time

Everyone wants to isolate for various reasons
The Church is one of the last venues
That still primarily meets in person

So society is desperately looking for a common enemy
And people it can focus the blame in society on
And give a reason for our problems
Because neither side wants to accept the real reasons

This is why it is still volatile
Being mentally ill in this contemporary world

People are getting more and more paranoid
And people do crazy things when they are afraid

Ironically I am the one that suffers from paranoia
That is normal with my incurable disease

But most other people have paranoia
Because of lifestyle choices

We think we are better than the rest of the world
And cannot understand why things get a little worse each year

Since most people cannot admit they are the problem
Someone else is going to get labeled as the problem

In a land where we have to be concerned with everyone feelings
No matter what they say or act like

It is interesting that people with the biggest needs for help
And with some of the relatively least expensive help needed
Are excluded from help by those with bigger political lobbies

People say they all care about those who are clearly in need
Due to no fault of their own
And yet the money and services are not coming

People have been afraid of someone coming after them for decades
But are not concerned with the neighbor next door
Except when they want to find someone else to be afraid of

But it brings back the point that discrimination is usually
Only obvious to those who are discriminated against

But we can never prove anything conclusively
Because we cannot agree on a common source of truth