Another community fund raiser for a poor soul stricken with a horrific illness. Spaghetti suppers are planned, raffles, prizes, trips to Disneyworld. No doubt it’s for a worthy cause, but where are the helping hands for persons with mental illnesses or their families trying desperately to hold on? Where’s the offer of a ride to the doctor or a neighbor bringing dinner so you can get a break? At best you’ll get an “I’m sorry” and at worst avoidance with someone crossing the street to dodge that strange looking person who happens to be your loved one. Where I live there is even a suit before the State Supreme Court to keep a clubhouse for persons with MI out of a particular neighborhood.
Then there are the obituaries reading Mr. or Ms. X died after a “long courageous battle” with cancer or whatever. Well, what if Mr. X committed suicide due to depression? You won’t find those three quoted words in the newspaper, even though the illness may have been lengthy, fought tooth and nail, and was … well, deadly.
It’s a fact that not everyone will survive cancer. Similarly, not everyone will survive mental illness. Yet, these afflictions are looked upon so differently–in life as well as death–even with both being common human disorders. Family members who lost a loved one due to cancer get sympathy; those who lost one to suicide get hushed tones and in some instances shame.
Another article in today’s newspaper features a young man in a vegetative coma due to an accident. A fund is being set up for his care with readers asked to contribute. It’s sad. No doubt about it. Still, I’d like to see just one fund set up for an individual living with a serious mental illness. I won’t hold my breath.