I wish the Golden Rule could be made a law. Or at least that it was focused on more in society. “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. No matter what their position in life, no matter what their history or what their affliction.
It is estimated that 1.2 million children and youth in Canada are affected by mental illness each year. I was one of those youth. I suffered from depression and developed a serious eating disorder in my teens. Both conditions threatened my life, I did not want to have either condition. I sought help though found little acceptance or understanding and often found the label had a negative impact on parts of my life. I hesitate to tell people because there seems to be judgment when a person says they’ve suffered from a mental illness. Many friends have found the same thing when afflicted with other silent illnesses like Fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, PTSD, and many others.
When I speak on “Compassion and Care” I try to help others take a moment to imagine life from the patients perspective. When we can identify or empathize with their experience then we find more compassion for that person. I use Velcro patches to show sensitive skin, goggles for impaired eyesight, bright lights, ear plugs or ear muffs or have given part of my workshop in a different language to show what some patients face when seeking care. Hospitals can be frightening when suffering a medical condition, whether it is physical or mental illness.
Imagine a situation in your life that invoked fear. I read one time that more people are afraid of public speaking than are afraid of dying. Think about that moment when you had to stand up to a microphone or to the front of the room and speak. Or maybe you are afraid of the dentist, or flying. Think of how you feel when you are faced with that task. Someone with an anxiety disorder, depression or other conditions can feel that way every time they think of walking out the door or talking on the phone. The mere thought of having to talk to or face another human being can bring them complete terror. They do not want to feel this way, any more than a person having a heart attack wants the symptoms they have.
The medical community also judges patients for the symptoms or illness they have. No one would tell a person who had a broken leg to get over it and walk it off. They would not be snickered at or commented about. Yet with mental illness or conditions where tests don’t show the injury, sufferers are looked down on, treated like a bother or given less respect. Like a mental illness takes away from their right for compassion or even basic respect. Patients with mental illness can end up feeling degraded by medical staff which worsens feelings that brought them in for medical attention to begin with.
We spend billions of dollars trying to keep our bodies healthy or treating illnesses and conditions that occur, but we ignore the most important aspect of a human being, the mind. People are chastised or discriminated against if they seek help and society becomes uncomfortable or awkward if the subject is brought up.
If you want to be able to hear a pin drop in a room full of people just have someone announce they have a mental illness. The individual that made the announcement is often automatically looked at differently and judged by that fact alone. Yet 1 in 5 will suffer from a mental illness at some point in life.
You, someone in your family, a friend, or co-workers have a debilitating mental illness and needs support. In fact with 1 in 5 you probably know and care about more than one person who has or will have a mental illness. When someone I love needs help, no matter what the problem is I hope and pray they will always find compassion and support.
No matter why a loved one needs help, or what they need help with…we always want them to be in a compassionate and understanding environment. No one wants to have a mental illness…If we could only see each person as just that “A Person” who deserves respect, love and understanding…no other factor need be considered. In fact if we stopped looking at any other factor the world would be a more loving and understanding place because everyone would be respected as an Equal, a Person. They are a person, same as me, just with their own journey.