A Lack of Compassion

So I’ve decided to use this blog not just to promote my work, but also to perhaps raise awareness about mental illness, especially Psychotic Depression. It’s not one of the mental illnesses you hear very much about but it’s out there, and since it’s more easily hidden by the sufferers the numbers for stats are low. I suspect it’s much higher, and there’s not even a lot of good information out there on what it is and how it is treated. In fact, most people have never heard of it.

On another post I will go into specifics and statistics. Treatments and musings. I want to draw attention to this because I know there are people out there suffering with it who are afraid to speak out. This is not that post however, because today something else is bothering me.

There’s this actress who I’m not going to name, not that she’s ever going to read this, who has had a complete turnaround in her personality just within the last year or so. Up until recently she was a normal young woman with a great career who seemed to be thriving. Recently however it’s been reported that she’s been behaving erratically and getting in trouble with the law. There have also been reports of her muttering to herself while walking around town, and if you follow her in twitter at all, you’ll see that she periodically posts about how people are reading her thoughts.

All of this is just speculation however, I don’t know the woman and god knows what is going on, but if I had to guess I’d say she’s suffering from a pretty bad mental illness. Let’s just say for a moment that this is the problem. All of the behavioral issues she’s experiencing are the result of the fact that her brain has gone rogue on her. We’re all at the mercy of our brains and it seems that this person is having difficulty with hers.

In watching the reaction on social media one notices a disturbing trend. There is almost ZERO compassion. It’s 99% vitriol. Either people are very bad at spotting the signs of someone suffering with a mental illness, or they just plain don’t care. They would rather make fun and waggle their finger at the sick person than attempt to show them any understanding.  I know she is behaving badly and hurting people’s feelings in the process, but I suspect she has little to no control over that right now.

If indeed this whole thing is mental illness like I suspect it is, she can get better and make amends. If someone in her life will step up and get her to a good psychiatrist she can even thrive again, but here’s the thing: she may never really live it down.

She could get well and go on to do great things, but now that this has happened, to some people she will always be a crazy loser.  Being sick is hard, but getting well and discovering that everyone hates you or has abandoned you for something you couldn’t help is worse!

The first year or so after you recover from a major mental illness is very hard. The guilt and shame are isolating and the loneliness you feel can be crushing.  I wasn’t someone who did anything illegal when I was sick, I didn’t insult anyone as far as I know. The biggest thing I did was sit in my room and refuse to go to school. I’m sure I said and did things that didn’t make sense. Portions of it are a blur quite honestly. But I woke up from the nightmare that those years were to very few friends and a family, who although they loved me, didn’t quite understand what had happened and didn’t know what to do with me, and didn’t want to talk about it.

So please, if you know someone who is suffering or who is just beginning to recover, be there for them and show them some compassion. They are especially vulnerable when they’re beginning to get better. You’d think it would be a great time, but honestly, it’s not. You can carry the guilt with you forever.

It only makes sense if you think about it. When someone we love has cancer we don’t leave them alone and we don’t punish them or demand they do penance for their illness. I see no reason why it should be any different for someone who has a sick brain as opposed to a bad heart. We don’t make them beg for forgiveness for the rest of their lives or hold it against them. When they get better we celebrate. We’re happy and consider ourselves lucky that they are still around.

People with mental illness don’t get that reaction from loved ones a whole lot. They get ignored and in some cases looked down on or made the ‘black sheep’ of the family. They can be the subjects of gossip and ridicule from the people who should love and support them most. I see this time and again and it never fails to break my heart.

I don’t know this actress, but my heart absolutely breaks for her too. I hope she can get well. I hope she has good family and friends to support her and I hope when she does get well that people will not judge her based on an illness that she couldn’t control.



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3 responses to “A Lack of Compassion

  1. Pingback: Why the World Needs Writers and Introverts | The Seal of Oblivion

  2. In my own personal experience, I’ve found that people don’t often know how to respond to mental illness. I lost a lot of friends, even people in my own family don’t understand it.

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