After reading Crazy by Pete Early for my junior research paper topic, the more aware I became of the true horrors that mental illnesses unleash on individuals, their family, and the society. Mental illness can be terrifying beasts, waiting in the dark, jumping and attacking even the most innocent of victims. What I knew about mental illnesses before reading this book, wasn't even the half of it. In school they warn kids about bullying and the consequences it may leave on those being bullied. And almost everyone probably has lost someone they love or know of someone who has passed away because of suicide. But there is so much more to mental illnesses than just depression and bipolar disorder and anxiety. There are so many mentally ill people out there who are rejected by society. Some become so sick that even their family give up on them. Or those families who try to help often reach obstacles because of laws passed. For example; unless your loved one voluntarily agrees or has been proven to be dangerous to themselves or others, they can not be admitted to a hospital or anything similar for help. While there are some ways to bypass this, dong so is not easy. As a result, families are left helpless while their loved one are clearly fighting internal demons.
Countless mentally ill people go on and commit crimes (not intentionally, of course) because their illness gets so out of hand and then end up simply being thrown in jail instead of receiving help. From there, most get worse and face awful conditions. Because not all (barely any, in fact) jail workers receive special training for how to deal with mentally ill patients, most patients face beatings, inhumane treatment, and hateful attitudes from the workers. Convicted mentally ill people can waste away their whole lives in jail, simply waiting to be put on trial. And it is also not uncommon to see a mentally ill person live a cycle of being hospitalized, released, arrested, and hospitalized again for their entire lives. And all the meanwhile, society looks down on these people, doesn't try to help them, or doesn't even realise that there are people among us who need help.
Think about the last time you encountered a homeless person on the street, rummaging through garbage, sleeping on a bench, etc.. What were your thoughts? Was is to avoid all contact with them, and hope that they don't see you walk by? Was is of curiosity, thinking of how that person ended up there? Was it disgust, thinking how could a person let themselves fall to that kind of lifestyle? Was your immediate thought "Oh they're probably just a junkie who got what they deserve"? Approximately one-third of homeless people are people with serious mental illnesses and that number is only growing. And to think that the majority of these people were at one time in their life "normal", healthy, and living in a home with a family that loves them. But here they are...suffering...fighting...and some...losing. Think about the stigma around mental illness today...many might say that no such thing exists, some might feel the effects of it from suffering loved ones, some might laugh at it and simply say that those people can get better if only they tried to help themselves. Where do you stand in this fight? Are you watching from the comfort of your couch, unaffected? Are you sitting on the sidelines, helpless? Or are you the fighter, struggling?