An entire family of doctors, some of them psychiatrists, with 2 young men in the family who live with a mental illness, all get together every year and talk about everything except the illness. They often speak on the phone to each other about all kinds of things but never about the illness. There just isn’t the space for that specific topic. This happens with ‘educated’ families.
A highly qualified mental health professional who specialises in children and adolescents is someone I have known for years and is very close to our family. When Saagar was ill, I wrote an e-mail asking for help but there wasn’t as much as a phone-call to find out what the problem was. In this age of Facetime, Skype, Viber, Whatsapp and what not, the means of communication couldn’t have been a barrier.
What are the barriers? Is mere talking about it too uncomfortable? Is it too much responsibility to take on? Is it too difficult to accept that the problem exists in such close proxomity? Is it too scary? Is it shameful?
I just googled ‘Stigma’ and this came up on top:
- a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.
“the stigma of mental disorder”
synonyms: shame, disgrace, dishonour; More
- (in Christian tradition) marks corresponding to those left on Christ’s body by the Crucifixion, said to have been impressed by divine favour on the bodies of St Francis of Assisi and others.”
This is the society we live in. It is ours to keep or change. EP, my 81 years old friend is also a doctor. She lost her son to a mental illness in 1993 and has been working tirelessly for the last 23 years on the medical community to address this problem of stigma. She doesn’t use the internet but her beautifully hand written letter says:
“Not to give up is the first task. To support each other is the next priority.”