….and I haven’t even finished writing my book….
Okay, I’ll admit it, saying that the New York Times likes me, when all they did was “like” my comment about the horrific way we treat mental illness in this country, is a bit of a stretch. But when you’ve lived under the stigma of mental illness for over 40 years, I’ll take all the kudos I can get. 🙂
Here is a link to the article on which I left my comment: http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/08/when-we-house-mentally-ill-people-in-prisons/?_php=true&_type=blogs&comments&_r=0#permid=12294378
I believe that a definitive measure of our capacity for loving kindness is found in the way we treat the mentally ill.
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Since it’s so difficult to read my NYT post in the photo, I have pasted it below:
USA 21 July 2014
When I was a traumatized 14 year old, I had a “nervous breakdown.” The year was 1967, more than a decade before Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was a diagnostic label. At that time, society’s answer to mental illness was to lock you in a human warehouse and throw away the key.
The massive, Gothic-looking asylum where I spent the longest 2 years of my life was closed and torn down in the 1990s. Built in the 1800s, it was the largest building in the state, more than a mile in circumference. The wards were filled to overflowing during my incarceration there.
My husband and I visited that area recently. The field where the institution used to be looked like a park, with freshly mowed grass and shady trees. I stood on the spot where I had been locked up as a young girl and thought: “Where did all the people go?”
I am very grateful that I was released in 1969, which allowed me to marry, have children and grandchildren, and enjoy a career ~ but my heart aches for all the people who were nowhere close to being well enough to live on their own.
There has to be an answer between the two extremes of locking the mentally ill in a prison-like facility, and turning them out on the streets to fend for themselves. I don’t know what that answer is. But after a lifetime of living with the hateful STIGMA of my psychiatric history, I know that the answer needs to begin with a major change in attitude. We need to learn to CARE: with Compassion, Acceptance, Respect, and Encouragement.
(End of my NYT post.)
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