Compassionate Love:Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2014 Nancy Virden
No one is less interested in the voyeuristic swarm of public gossip surrounding the Gosselin family than I am. Of course, if you have never heard of them, you are probably caring less than I do at the moment. Hear me out, please.
Jon and Kate Plus Eight was a reality show about a family with one set of twins, and sextuplets. They divorced, the show went off the air, and each of the parents has continued to make public statements bashing the other. This past week, Jon Gosselin made news by insisting his ex-wife have a psychiatric evaluation.
I don’t care. However, what does bother me is the headline I read, “Jon Gosselin Calls Kate “Crazy.”
We’ve all said it. “I’m nuts over my boyfriend,” “He went bonkers when he was fired,” “My in-laws are crazy.” We usually mean someone is acting in an extreme manner, or exhibiting behavior we do not understand. Let’s put this in perspective.
Kate said her husband has no relationship with the children. Bad Jon. He said she keeps the children from him. Bad Kate. Being from a twice-divorced family, I know the kids are affected by these arguments, a parent’s absence, and public scrutiny. One might say both Jon and Kate are foolish.
There’s a world of difference between experiencing mental illness and acting the fool. Some of us in our worst of times do not lash out at our families or the world. Our emotions may be extreme but we have the wisdom not to punctuate our disability by verbally destroying others in the process.
Although limited in my understanding of psychosis, I know that quietness, isolation, and inactivity often accompany severe depression, at least for me and most people I’ve met in these situations.
Clearly, the headline writer has no diagnostic training as proven by his choice of words. In my opinion it was an insensitive and foolish decision to replace “psychiatric evaluation” with “crazy.” This perpetuates the myth and stigma that people seeking psychiatric help are less-than, or worse, bad in some way.
Because writers, producers, preachers, politicians, teachers, physicians, and others with a public platform continue to downgrade seeking help for one’s emotional health to an unnecessary or even a foolish act, kids are committing suicide as are mothers, fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers, friends, and neighbors.
Statements and ideas like, “I don’t need help,” “Just think positive thoughts,” “I’m not going to spend money on a quack,” are most likely the results of ignorance and stigma. Let’s stop it! Get the word out!
People are dying for us to get it right.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.