I know two individuals who were in the hospital. Both were nice, extremely likeable people who did not want to be ill. Both knew many of the same people, both had come close to death a few times and had about the same chance of survival according to doctors. The one patient had an overwhelming number of visitors that were leaders from their church, friends and family. The other had a few visitors, mostly the same two or three people. The difference was the patient with many visitors had a physical illness threatening their life, the other had a mental illness that was threatening theirs.
No one with a mental illness wants to have it, while they may seem to make choices that are contrary to recovery- that can be part of the illness or from feeling alone and with a lack of support. People who eat unhealthy and never exercise til they have a heart attack still get support from family and friends. They are not judged or blamed for their illness. People don’t stop talking to them or become “too busy” to show support. Someone who was driving carelessly or while they are over tired is given an outpouring of support after an accident that threatens their life yet a person who almost dies because of a mental illness is left to recover on their own.
Emergency Room staff don’t get annoyed with someone who is there for a heart attack or car accident that happened because of human choices, but someone with a mental illness who hasn’t found the strength to recover is often treated as a “waste of their valuable time” where they could be treating the man who ate his way to the emergency room.
Where is the compassion? Why does the word “Mental” suddenly make “Illness” have less meaning to society? If someone is suffering or in need of support is it not our duty as human beings to be….human. Compassion should reach to everyone no matter what their illness or what their need.