Welcome to Caregiver Friday!!
If you haven’t been following the blog this week then you’ve missed out on learning about the new public service announcement (PSA) about mental illness. You can view the video at http://www.bringchange2mind.org and see not only the artistry in the piece, but the power of the message. So why am I writing about the PSA once again? Up till now I’ve been focusing on the message, the importance of bringing mental illness to our consciousness, and the courage of those who participated in the PSA. Now I want to turn my attention to one of the parents who accompanies her son in the PSA.
The woman is the mother of an adult son who is schizophrenic. When they interview the pair she tells about how they found out about their son’s disability. They had gone on vacation when they received an emergency call that their son was in a psychiatric hospital. They immediately rushed home, went to the hospital and proceeded to check him out not believing he was ill. Over the next few days the son’s symptoms surfaced in a way that the parents couldn’t deny the problem and he was re-admitted to the hospital. Why do want to live in the land of disbelief? How does it serve our world view? What happens when our assumptions about health are shattered?
This mother was well-meaning, loving, concerned and a host of other admirable characteristics, but like all of us, her blind spot got exposed. We all have it, that place just outside our consciousness that nags at us and gives us clues but we choose to ignore. When this happens, whether it’s a mental health or physical health challenge, the clues land at our feet and for some it takes a crisis to get everyone on the same page and to acknowledge the problem. I’m wondering if our blind spots get revealed on the health issue, do they become exposed in other areas of our lives?
We don’t like to think about mental illness because for many it conjures up images of Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Fortunately, our understanding of mental illness has progressed over the past thirty years. Treatments are more effective and less toxic, although side effects still remain a huge hindrance in maintaining the treatment protocol. We’re afraid, disgraced, and confused when a loved one is in a psychiatric hospital, but seem to be okay if the problem is physically based…why is that? How much of our own prejudices create the veil of disbelief? I want to be very clear, this is not about blame, but of consciousness. As Oprah say, “When we know better we do better”; just look at the loved ones in the PSA, you’ll see the transformation from disbelief to consciousness and acceptance!