Challenged

Posted: April 9, 2014 in America, mental health, Society
Tags: , , , , ,

My sister, Carmen, is legally blind and has a childlike mentality. When she was 40 days old a babysitter dropped her on her head. Her skull was fractured, thus labeling her for life as disabled and/or handicapped.

Crutches, wheelchairs, red-tipped canes, working dogs and not-quite-normal behavior or appearance is how normal people identify challenged people. That’s the PC term for disabled.

Carmen hates the word handicapped. She prefers to just use the term legally blind. Her mental capacity is never brought up. Occasionally, she will admit to having learning disabilities. For Carmen, calling her mildly retarded is the same as using the ‘N’ word.

Then we have the disabilities that aren’t always readily noticed. Mental illness can be easily dismissed. Odds are if you’re mentally ill you’re IQ is above average. Smart people can’t be sick! You don’t have a real illness.

Even those whole are bipolar, schizophrenic or depressed don’t always feel that they have a real disease. I include myself in that group. These conditions are so ingrained into our personalities that it’s like telling a pregnant woman her baby is a tumor.

So the reluctant patient is convinced that it’s a charming trait. And society says drug, strap and shrink the crazy away. Next! Remember folks. It’s not a real disease. They can still walk, talk and hold down a job. Just take your meds, a shower and dress like a human being.

Tell that to the family who lost a tough-as-nail soldier to suicide. Tell that to family, friends and survivors of mass shootings. And tell that to the parents who have buried their children because they couldn’t cope with being a teenager.

There are no durable medical equipment or neon signs around the necks of those whose who live with mental illness. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to write-off. We write-off it off until it blows up in our face. I know I did. Then sadly, we develop amnesia all over again. Maybe everyone is in a lovely denial.

 

 

 

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