Mental illness is a rip-off

Mental illness stole my friend.
Not only is it impossible to talk to her, but I can’t talk about her to anyone, including family.

It’s taboo.

I wish the stigma could be erased.

I’ve had nearly a year to come to terms with the reality of the situation. I’m through with my own denial. I’ve moved to a place of acceptance.

The hard part is knowing what to do next. Which in this case, based on the particular circumstances, is not much at all. At best, there is an occasional brief phone call that leaves one or both of us upset. At worst, there is total avoidance.

Is this the way to deal with someone who is sick and in need of help?

If I started this post by saying “my friend has cancer” or “my friend was in a car accident” I know what sort of response I’d get from others. There would be sympathetic  nods, pats on the shoulder, maybe a story of something they’d experienced and a spoonful of advice.

But when you say “my friend is mentally ill and self-medicates to the point of mulitiple addictions” you get blank stares or a clipped response. Then you’re on to talking about the local sports team or the weather. So you don’t say anything at all.

Mental illness is a ripoff. I’ve dealt with it in my extended family. I learned young that it is a realm of euphamisms: nervous breakdown, exhaustion, appendicitis (not kidding on this one). 

Mental illness is polarizing and isolating and devastating. It tears families and friendships apart.

I can’t visit my friend in the hospital and bring her flowers. I can’t go to her home and take care of her children or water her garden. I can’t hold her hand while she undergoes a medical procedure.

All I can do is think of her and pray and hope and let it go.

I hope someday we can get past this taboo. Would it make a difference?

4 thoughts on “Mental illness is a rip-off

  1. All I can say is I agree and I sympathize. There are so many corners of human existence no one wants to talk about or deal with so we are left having to resign ourselves to shrugging our shoulders because it’s much bigger than us. I am sorry this has claimed your friend.

  2. Mental Illness, the biggest Taboo of all…. I tried to help my mother thru, we all did, for years. We finally took her to MULTIPLE doctors who said, “She’ll just have to help herself.” “You just gotta pull back and let her get help on her own.” So that’s exactly what I did.

    She helped herself all right, she’s dead now. I’ve regretted not helping every day since she’s been gone.

  3. I have a friend from childhood that developed schizophrenia in her 30’s. We were like sisters. Now, it’s just really sad. For the longest time I tried to talk her out of her delusions. Finally, I had to admit that I couldn’t help. I also have a friend that went the drug route. I have given up on her a thousand times. My heart goes out to you and your friend.

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