An Open Letter….On Mental Illness

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You’d have to be living under a rock to not know what happened in Tuscon, Arizona, over the weekend. As the news poured in of the shooting, my heart seemed to sink deeper into my soul. I am ashamed to say I had never heard of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords before the shooting, and didn’t know any of the victims. All my positive energy and well-wishes go out to Giffords, her family and friends, along with all the victims of this tragic event.

I am not here to point fingers, choose sides get political or start trouble. I have my own opinions on the matter and my friends know what that is and we will just leave it at that.

What I am here for is a topic, a theme as of late if you will, which keeps coming up when something like this happens.

It is reported that the Arizona shooter – Jared Loughner had five “outbursts” at his community college in which the authorities had to be called. His friends said he had drastically changed over the last six months to a year, and even his parents – his parents who lived in the same home with Loughner – said that they knew something was wrong with their son, but did nothing about it.

It is clear that Jared Loughner had mental issues and no one, not even his friends or family, did anything to help him.

I am not defending Loughner in the least – he is a cold-blooded murderer, plain and simple. What I am getting at is mental health in America.  Coverage by insurance companies has been cut 51% in the last three years because insurance companies feel it will bankrupt them…seriously?

Again, it is all about money.

I’ve never said this publicly, at least not in a forum like this, but I suffer from depression and anxiety – a form of mental illiness, some might call it. I am lucky – I knew I needed help or I probably I wouldn’t be here right now typing this. Yes, I was suicidal.

It all started in my 20s when a lot of bad things happened and surfaced all at once.I thought I was going insane. I tried and tried to act like it was no big deal – you know, being a man and all. Men don’t have “mental illiness,” men are strong, otherwise you are weak etc., etc….that whole mentality. But it got to be all too much and it went too far. I scared not only myself, but my family.

I sought help and luckily, after a few therapists, I found one that really helped me and refered me to a doctor who would put me on antidepressants. Thankfully I got better. I still struggle from time to time with depression, but never as bad as I once did. I never want to be like that again. It scares me to even think about slipping back into those bad habits. I think that’s why I try to keep busy at all times.

What I don’t understand is why we, as a nation, look down on mental illness. Why we see people as weak because they aren’t mentally balanced, why the crooks at the health insurance companies act like this is not an issue. I am not a doctor, but to my knowledge the brain is an organ, a very vital organ in the human body. So if you needed help with your heart, lungs, and kideys – all major organs just like the brain – you would have no probem or shame in getting to the doctor and getting them checked out. And if you are lucky, your insurance company would cover you. So why is the brain any different?

Ted (Unabomber) Kaczynski, Oklahoma City Federal building bombing, Columbine shooting, Virgina Tech shooting and so many more – what do all these tragedies have in common? All the people who were involved in these massacres were reported to have mental problems. So why do we continue to look away from the elephant in the room? Why isn’t mental illiness a more serious topic in our lives? Why are so many people scared to talk about it?

Personally, I don’t care anymore. Yes, I get really depressed, and yes, I was really fucked up for the majority of my 20s, and I don’t care if you think I am weak for it. I worked my ass off to get better. Isn’t it logical if we all get better, the country would be a better place? Maybe that is too much to grasp right now.

If you or someone you know is suffering from mental illness, HELP THEM! It is obvious the insurance companies won’t. There is nothing wrong with speaking up if you need help. Tell your friends, tell your family, tell the doctor, just don’t sit and do nothing or we could all be sitting here asking why or pointing fingers blaming others when another tragedy happens.

Keep pushing forward to make this a better place, to make yourself a better person because we have to make this a better place to live.

Thank you for reading
Troy