12 October 2016

Sell it and they will come. . .



So many books!

I should really write a book.

This blog is intended someday to become a memoir. If it doesn’t, I’m OK with that. The writing is more therapy than anything. But the more I look for books on bipolar/depression, the more I am convinced that many of them are written so the writer can gain fame and fortune.

I won’t name names. Just google search bipolar and dig a little into some of the author sites and you’ll see what I mean.

Kids are a growing market in bipolar
I get it though. Book deals and speaking tours are great if you can’t work a conventional job. I have this fantasy that I’ll just go around the country doing TED talks and other seminars where I can add a whole lot of psychobabble bullshit to my personal experiences.

But I can’t do that. There’s enough of that already.

The problem is America doesn’t really want to face up to the reality of mental illness. They want to read stories of overcoming, of triumph. They want a happy ending, believing everything has a fix if we only work/read/meditate/pray enough. The books reinforce that perception.

Bullshit!
The whole idea of suicide prevention in this county is to keep people alive. That’s admirable, of course, but in many instances, that’s it. Great, you’ve rescued them from killing themselves – now are you going to provide affordable and compassionate mental health services in the community so they won’t do it again?

Of course you won’t. There’s so much more that needs to be spent on weapons and subsidies to corporations. Besides, if you can’t afford the services, it’s because you’ve failed, and why should I have to pay for someone else’s treatment?

Unfortunately that is who we are.

BUT, we have lots of cheap cures in the form of books and tapes and, my, oh, my, drugs (some of the most widely used are generic and therefore, by comparison, cheap) that you can have, but geez, having the taxpayers furnish luxury hotels with compassionate, well-trained staff is a bit much, don’t you think? 

The problem is that too many people watch ‘reality’ shows like ‘Intervention’ and think everyone gets to go to the Mental Health Club Med where the kind director meets you at the door and starts scheduling your horseback riding therapy classes in the morning.
So. . . who ordered the wine? Dinner at six!

These places are anywhere from $15-30,000 a month and even if you have insurance, forget it.
An attack at the Arizona state mental hospital
The real reality is that you are taken by force, usually by the police (they don’t usually send men in white coats anymore) to some kind of county facility which resembles something out of Dickens’ time, where staff that get $9 an hour throw you in with people who may or may not cause you physical harm. If you’re lucky, you get to see a real, live therapist for 30 minutes a week or every other day. Your insurance, if you have any, may pay for 30 days of inpatient treatment. Then, ‘cured’ or not, it’s out on the street you go. Good luck!

If we are going to keep people alive, we, as a society, have to ask ourselves: why?

If it’s just a ‘feel good’ exercise, for the love of God, stop it. Let these people have their eternal relief. Yes, I know, many mentally ill people (usually with means and an already existing support system) get ‘cured’ and never try it again. But I can almost guarantee you; they think about it the rest of their lives. 

And then there are the people who get out of our medieval mental health facilities and, faced at some point with the prospect of having to go back, and unable to afford therapy, quietly hang themselves in a closet. Where are all the self-congratulators then?

He. . . is. . . .serious. I got nothing.
What I’m getting at is there is nothing sexy, trendy or hip about having a mental illness regardless of what you see on TV or read in these books. I can speak to bipolar, depression and anxiety. Believe me, there is nothing glamourous about it. The reality is, for most of us, there is no cure but a gritty, grinding, awful existence that is punctuated occasionally by brief periods of relief.

It is a hard life and for the vast majority of people suffering, there is no cure; it is something they have to deal with all of their lives. 

The cruel thing is not only the stigma we face – it’s all the quackery sold to us by the books, the seminars, the yoga teachers, the sweat lodge shamans, the homeo- and naturopaths – all more affordable than decent therapy and medications and all promising something they can’t deliver.
And if you fail, it’s because you ‘didn’t try hard enough.’

Yeah, eat your way to sanity. Woo!
There is not one physical ailment in this country that someone isn’t hustling a quack cure. ‘Buyer beware’ has never been more relevant than with the mental illness community.

I have a son with autism. I remember going to some of the Autism Society seminars and, looking around at the booths and companies offering this and that. I felt the atmosphere the same as a sales convention – because that’s exactly what it was. 
Step right up! Can I get a witness!?

So my message today is that if you suffer from these maladies, don’t buy into anyone’s quick fix – it’s a long hard road and beware those who say they have been ‘cured’ by any one method: often they have an investment in that method.
This one I recommend

For society, please understand that we as a community are always keeping the wolf from the door. If we could snap our fingers and ‘snap out of it,’ we would. Don’t push the Dr. Oz snake oil on us and then blame us for our own lack of effort. Believe me, you wouldn’t want to feel like this and we are doing all we can. 

There’s nothing to sell here except blood, sweat, toil and tears. Every day we rise again, it is our own little triumph. Understand that. 

I could write a book about it. But I don’t think it would ever get published.