It strikes me, Christiane, especially these days with all the talk around the “mentally ill” and gun use, that it’s so incredibly easy to use a broad brush stroke to paint anyone and everyone rather than to do the (hard) empathetic work to understand- explore- look for a root cause. Sometimes I have to wonder if what people call mental illness in so many cases isn’t simply someone’s having reached the end of their emotional rope or resources. I’ve no idea. I guess what troubles me about the most is that it’s just ever so much easier to lay a label on someone and write them off as sick. Is a woman mentally ill when she has severe anxiety attacks after having been raped? Is a young man mentally ill because he has severe anxiety attacks after having been beaten and brutalized by an abusive father? In the vast experience and expression of all our humanity, how people cope with a deeply stressful world, especially with how our lives have changed lately, with all the additional stresses of poor and overly expensive healthcare, the cost of living, an evil political environment and a thousand thousand other factors, is likely to look more and more as though we are ALL mentally ill. For my part- and I have to wonder about this- whoever writes the questionnaire that you have to fill out which determines if you have bipolar disorder has a great deal to gain if the answer is yes- especially if they are in any way tied to treatment. My BF has a friend in the pharma industry; a company that makes a massive amount of money selling anti-depressants. He told my BF the company’s strategy and it’s been working: one of four women (and growing) diagnosed with bipolar in America. I have a very, very hard time accepting the validity of that kind of percentage. It sells pills. But it doesn’t cure the problem. I think the problem has more to do with our feeling lonely and isolated, unloved, unwanted, in the way, devalued, and not worthy. It’s far harder, yet far more rewarding, to do what you say: ask. Discover. Understand. Give validity to someone’s experience. There is vastly more stress associated with not being heard, not being seen, not being considered worthy- of course people develop anti-social behaviors. I don’t think that makes them “mentally ill” so much as it probably makes them hugely lonely. But that’s just me. I’ve no clue if I’m right. Just thinking out loud here .

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Horizon Huntress, prize-winning author, adventure traveler, boundary-pusher, wilder, veteran, aging vibrantly. I own my sh*t. Let’s play!

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