Thursday 19 September 2013

Let's not play the mental health card

After the most recent massacre in the US, I have heard a line over and over again that does nothing but irk me.

It goes something like "Let's not play the PTSD card" or "Let's not play the mental health card" or some such card playing statement.

If you stop and really really think about it then you will easily come to the conclusion that a sane person does not go out there and shoot people. Not for any reason. Not outside a war zone or under some perceived threat.

Mental illness seems to be dismissed quite regularly as some kind of excuse.

My theory is that this comes from temporary insanity as a line of defence against murder charges and its overuse in American TV shows with unimaginative writers. It may also come from the idea that being locked up in a mental institution for treatment is some easier form of punishment than the rock breaking labour of real prison.

Either way, those are valid ways of dealing with people in those situations. They are not excuses or made up plot lines constructed to allow bad people to escape consequences.

Mental illness is real. It is not an excuse. It can sometimes be a reason but it is never an excuse.

I mean to take nothing from the people or the families of those who are harmed in such horrible events but I also will not let mental illness and people doing things because they are ill be treated like an escape clause.

Mental illness is real. You may not have suffered it but that doesn't make it a holiday on the beach with cocktails in coconut shells.

Mental illness is not reasonable. You may not understand what it is like for your mind to tell you something that isn't real but it does happen.

Mental illness is not a escape clause. In fact, there is a shadow that hangs over you forever that is accompanied by a pain that you will always dread.  It will go away and you will be well, if you are lucky. It will not dictate who you are always. It will however give you some empathy for the idea that sometimes people are just crazy and sometimes crazy is just people.

Your inability to comprehend something does not mean it does not exist.

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