Rant on Mental Illness

I was talking to a friend today and she said, “The fact that you have a degree in Counseling Psych and have worked in the field of mental health, is pretty funny.” Sure is. Irony must be my middle name.

This past week there as another shooting at Fort Hood and I was angry when the media started to bill the shooter as someone with mental illness, possibly PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). So? That kind of diagnosis doesn’t make someone a murderer. It doesn’t even mean that individual will hurt someone. What the media has done though is send those with mental illness back into a shadow of shame.

Mental illness does not deserve censure. It deserves compassion. As much as someone with diabetes or an autoimmune disease or perhaps suffering with recurring migraines. We have compassion for those people, even if we can’t “see” their illness. It’s not like a broken bone that can heal. The mind of some people (not all) with mental illness is fast paced and can resemble a runaway train. The only problem is the engineer can’t put on the brakes. sherlock - whats it like in your funny little brains

The brilliance of the show, Sherlock (BBC), is that they show to a certain degree the workings of this genius’ mind. He calls himself a high functioning sociopath. In reality this is a subcategory of the Anti-social personality disorder. In many ways, this self-diagnosis is correct and he makes good use of his almost savant capabilities. In essence, Sherlock Holmes is mentally ill. Not all people have minds like Sherlock’s, but many have thoughts that race, or emotions that flux out of control. Unless one has experienced this first-hand, it’s hard to understand or grasp.

The point I’m trying to make though is that we need to be less judgemental and more compassionate towards those that struggle with any kind of mental illness. Having said that, we also need to understand that some can be highly annoying and without the grace of God, socially devastating in a person’s ability to function in the world of work and relationships.

Sherlock lives for the excitement of the chase because he mind is racing all the time. He has pent-up energy thrumming through is body. I doubt that ASPD is his only diagnosis if we were honest. He has found a way to make use of his skills, but as Inspector Lastraud says in Season 1, Epsiode 1, when asked why he puts up with Sherlock: “Because I think he’s a great man and someday, he might even be a good one.” The show is not so much about saving lives and solving murders, but is more about his growth as a human being as he interacts with Dr. John Watson who becomes, over time, his one and only friend.

On a side note: Dr. John Watson is apparently a PTSD sufferer. Fascinating that his therapist encourages him to blog about what happens his life as part of his recovery. I loved his pre-Sherlock response to that. “Nothing every happens to me.” Ha!

So you have two mentally ill people saving London . . . and perhapse the world. Maybe we’re not all so bad anyway? Maybe we are even useful?

So please, let’s just realize we all have something wrong with us. It’s called sin. And sin causes people to put labels on others and judge them without truly understanding. Sin leads to blanket assumptions, like the one about PTSD. And please, for the sake of the men and women who have served, let’s give them the honor and grace to heal without bearing the shame of mental illness too. They would have died for you and your right to be free in this country. They volunteered for that when they joined. They have seen things God never intended for man to have to experience.

Honor. Duty. Respect. It’s a hard world out there for all of us and we all face a battle every day, some of use face it inside, some face it on the outside and for some the two feed off each other.

And for the rest of us, those who struggle in battles unseen, I pray we have compassion and grace for ourselves. Peace, friends.

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2 thoughts on “Rant on Mental Illness

  1. Your passion and compassion are inspiring! I know NOTHING about this, but is PTSD in the same category as most other disorders? It seems more like a brain’s response to situations and sights that are overwhelming. And sometimes the victim lashes out, hurting himself and/or others? i want to be careful and sensitive here. It just seems as though the military and medical fields need to know and understand this more. Because it is a real problem and people are really are getting hurt.

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    • PTSD is a unique because it is environmentally induced. It is not only the result of war however, many physical and sexual abuse survivors struggle with this as well. Any trauma can trigger a deep reaction that makes a person hypersensitive to external stimuli. It does not make a person dangerous however, the emotion associated with it is usually fear from what I understand. There are other catagories of mental illness though that can have a similar onset/cause. The drive to murder though is still a sin issue at it’s core. PTSD is one of those that has some unique and effective therapies available to help with recovery. The human mind is so vast and complex and there is still so little understood about it . We have an infinitely complex, creative and divine Creator.

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