If you have had even one experience being a patient in a mental ward you will know exactly what I am about to say. No one comes to see you. If you have a baby people come to see you. If you have gallbladder surgery people come to see you. But if you go a little crazy your friends and sometimes family just don’t bother to visit.
This has hurt my feelings in the past. Emotionally I have been a wreck and not having any friends to call or visit has been, well just plain sad. The paradox is that the very time you need as much social support as possible you don’t’ get it. The hospital is a pretty lonely place.
It seems pretty cold of people to abandon you in your time of need. Then I remembered people I knew that had cancer. I didn’t go visit them because I just didn’t know what to say. Maybe that is the same reason people don’t show up during visitor’s hours. Plus they know you are not at your best.
So, if you or someone you know will be in an unlocked or locked facility soon, the ones you love may or may not visit you. But you have to imagine yourself in their shoes. Mental health issues are still somewhat taboo to talk about. Last year I was talking to an older lady about my anxiety experience and she tilted her head and whispered in my ear, “I was in the hospital for depression at your age.” It was like this great secret that no-one should know about. I know she meant well but I felt like she was talking more about leprosy than mental health. We are in the 21st century and hopefully the bias will get better slowly. Maybe one day we can talk in our regular voice about our mental problems just like someone talks about their back problems out loud.
Another thing that bothers me about mental illness is that people say, “you don’t look anxious.” I had those words said to me in a mental ward. Really? What am I supposed to look like? Am I supposed to be biting all my fingernails off? Am I supposed to be shaking from head to toe? Having mental illness is like a double edged sword. You usually can’t tell if something is wrong with someone. So people treat you the same as anyone else. You are also seen as qualified for a job just like anyone else. It is the hidden epidemic. Depression and anxiety aren’t always obvious in someone, just the symptoms and only if someone is very observant. For example, Mary usually dresses in clean clothes and brushes her hair every day before work. Then one day she looks all discombobulated. She has bed head and her clothes are dirty and wrinkled. Some people in her office might notice the change but chalk it up to, “Oh she must have got wasted last night.” When she is really suffering from depression. If someone else is angry most of the time they just give her the label of being a bitch.
The brain is connected to the thought which is connected to the feeling which is connected to behavior. Most people take that for granted. I think most don’t even see the brain as an organ that could become sick. Maybe they will one day. Maybe.