Sunday, November 16, 2008

Theft of the Spirit: The Scourge of Mental Illness

It is much easier to write about the virtues of a godless existence, the latest in the political scene, or a recently viewed movie, but the truth is my blog also serves as something of a personal journal from time to time. When I write about the personal, I see my challenge as doing it in such a way so as not to simply avoid making my readers feel uncomfortable but to pique their interest with introspection and good humor.

From time to time, I grapple with the sensitive subject of my personal experiences with mental illness. As someone who has had to manage his own affliction with mental illness for a number of years, I have cultivated a sensitivity to similar afflictions in others, most notably my aging mother.

I was recently moved to a sadness I had never known after a conversation with my mother in which her voice became possessed of a virulent hostility and sadistic sarcasm. When I told her I was not sensing any love in her words, she proceeded to make the unmistakable insinuation that the quality and nature of my love was inferior because it did not emanate from her god. This was an obscenity a healthy mind simply could not conjure. Like a master thief, the scourge of mental illness had stolen away her gentle spirit and loving nature.

So for now, I will continue to fend off repeated invocations of Reinhold Niebuhr's tiresome cliché, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change . . ." blah blah blah. What is sorely lacking here is courage - not the least of which, my own.

My Blogger friend Tara B. dug up this terrific quotation and posted it on her site: • The Worst Thing You Can Do • Reinhold Niebuhr has nothing on Theodore Roosevelt.


  1. Mental illness is such an interesting topic, and the mentally ill are still discrimminated against in many subtle ways.

    We are all a little bit insecure about our own mental health. At the age of 49, I know I don't have perfect mental health, but I believe that there are many instances where we judge each other incorrectly using the paranoid label, depressed label, and so on and so forth.

    My father sometimes infers that I am engaging in paranoid thinking and then is careful not to label me as paranoid. He also used this against my late Uncle Charlie somewhat unfairly I think.

  2. Mental illness is a terrible thing for those who live with it, and can become a nightmare for those loved ones who feel helpless when their loved ones suffer and often refuse help or even to aknowledge they need help. It is a horrible situation for all involved.

    Unfortuneatly, even though there has been increased awareness of mental illness there is still a stigma about it which only worsens the problem, especially in the older generation.

  3. I also think people become defensive when they are in the wrong or feel someone is pointing out thee obvious that they do now want to see.

    My daughter has on more than one occasion wrangled me and pointed out things that I knew I was doing, but did not want to hear them at that time. Once I calmed down from her blatant attempt to tell me flaws, I admitted to myself and eventually to her, that I am glad she told me these things and to keep on doing it no matter how offended I may appear.

    I wish I had felt that confident to tell my mother what a nasty wretch she is, but no, none of us told her and now she is a woman none of us wants to be around.

    So Bill, you keep on telling your mother and whoever else you feel is wronging you who you feel and be done with it.

    I'm off in a huff now.