Recently I met with a parent with two daughters. One daughter has a severe disorder where she sees and hears things which aren’t there; the other daughter apparently complained she thought her sister was “just making things up.” The parent added sadly, “I wish there was some way for us to get inside my daughter’s head to see what it’s like.” “Yep, sure enough!” I replied.
This reminded me of the extraordinary story by Clifford Beers – written in 1907 at a time when psychiatric drugs didn’t exist and those considered mentally ill were locked behind bars. After Beers recovered enough entirely on his own, he wrote A Mind That Found Itself. I read this book as an undergrad student; the account is so riveting, it stayed with me all these years.
So using my laptop, I Googled Beers name and was happy to find multiple links. The parent clicked on this link (a note about Beers by the clinic which now bears his name) and noted, “Very interesting!” I later found a link, as an e-book, entirely free!
This week is National Mental Health Awareness Week. It seems befitting to add this blog as a reminder of the truly significant progress we have made as a society, and also to reflect on the exceptional tenacity and resiliency among so many of the mentally ill, often by necessity. That said, it is too often true that the small percent of untreated mentally ill make headlines after committing horrific acts. Then there are those claiming to be mentally ill who are not but want to escape harsh criminal consequences. When someone bites a dog, that’s news – not v. versa. There’s a huge number of mentally ill who are stabilized by treatment. Some might work beside you. Others might be your neighbors.