Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mental Health Awareness

The post yesterday written under distress of no time to devote to this topic. I wanted to bring attention to Mental Health. Maybe that spoke more than volumes of words. Katie thought it read like the world's shortest sad story.
Depression has long roots in my family. Is it the Scot, Irish or German? The Irish are noted for depression. Great Grandpa Seth Thompson suffered from melancholia. His daughter possessed a sad streak at times with bitterness about life sneaking out. My mom could spend days in bed. I believe they all were untreated most of the time. In later life, Mom took antidepressants that lifted her mood, giving a contentment in her later years that she struggled to have in earlier years.
We visited my cousin at the mental hospital while I was in high school. She underwent shock treatments. What always amazed me, how when major events happened, she rallied with no signs of depression. As the Bible says, it's the little foxes that ruin the vine.
I have raged against the reputation of depression and other mental illnesses. It is truly a physical ailment, but doesn't have the badge of respectability of say, kidney failure or cancer. If you mention that someone has a sickness that just comes on one without a cause, it is acceptable. But stigma accompanies mental illness. A  response often is that person is not strong, or just needs to "get over it."
Family of ill ones sense the pointing fingers of guilt at times. Relatives suffer with the affected one. A shroud of shame tries to suffocate all involved. It has improved, but a full acceptance remains lagging.
More and more open up about this disease. I wonder, though, how many hold back from treatment, thinking somehow this is something to get over. It is hard to mention this at the organ recital at prayer meetings, maybe because to see improvement is uneasily measured. No MRI or CT-scan show a healing. Treatments vary as with most maladies. As each person is an individual, so may treatment and his response have different paths.
We need more awareness and I gladly embrace this. Mental health issues are as life threatening as cancer at times. The worst thing, you may not look ill. Yet, I have seen the hollowness of depression in eyes of the afflicted.  I can't look away, even if that is my first reaction. I hope you, too, can delve into encouragement to those who need it. Being a listening ear, suggesting treatment and loving a person are methods to respond. Be aware of those around you, withhold judgment and pray.
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