Blaming the mentally ill

I was sleeping when the explosions at the Boston Marathon went off, so when I woke up to the carnage that was filling my page on Facebook, I was definitely in shock. A simple Google search for “Boston Marathon” turns up pages and pages of up-to-the-minute coverage with carnage pictures, like some sort of vile pornography that we simply can’t get enough of. I was reading one article that had an overhead shot of one of the bomb sites and wanted to vomit. People DIED there. Have some respect!

Several people have posted the beautiful quote from Mr. Rogers, where he said “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing there are still so many helpers.” There are still so many caring people in this world, even without dear Mr. Rogers in it.

Of course, whenever a disaster like this is perpetrated, usually by someone who is very disturbed, it’s very easy to cast blame on ALL mentally ill people, despite the vast majority of mentally ill individuals being far more of a risk to themselves than anyone else. This is stigma, pure and simple, and already I’m seeing prejudice against the mentally ill alongside of America’s other favorite scapegoats, Muslim people. Neither of these groups deserve this sort of abuse, as the vast majority aren’t a danger to anyone.

What really triggered this post from me was the following commentary on a friend’s Facebook page:

prejudice

(In case it isn’t obvious, I am C. Click the image to make it bigger and more legible.)

My blood is STILL boiling. Yesterday? I might’ve actually taken that literally and actually hurt myself in response, because my mental state has been so shaky to begin with. I was suicidal most of the weekend and today wasn’t much better. I was fortunate I had just woken up, and was feeling a bit more like myself.

Comments like that are not just ignorant, they are extremely harmful. I know one of the talking head idiots with a radio show has already called for Muslims to be killed, despite nobody knowing as of right now who even did this atrocious act. I’m seeing people calling for the mentally ill to be locked away.

We did that. For centuries. Then this little thing called deinstitutionalization happened, and while I have some complaints about it (there are some people where that really is their least restrictive environment) I definitely am not arguing with the fact that I was not committed back when I was 21 and desperate, nor at any of the other ER visits where I was reassured that I am in fact OK, and meds were adjusted and my psychiatrist was called and I was sent home to rest. At any one of those not too long ago I could’ve been thrown in an institution forever. In my life I’ve only been in the hospital for my illness for a grand total of three days, and that’s thanks to deinstitutionalization.

I know we’re easy scapegoats, just like Muslims are easy scapegoats, because there is SO MUCH prejudice and stigma out there, but please, think a little before pointing fingers. The only person who is to blame for this atrocity, and every other atrocity, is the person pulling the trigger or pushing the button. They, and only they, are to blame. The rest of us are innocent. Please leave us alone.

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Filed under Civil Rights, Mental Health Rights, Now

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