Two poems on the theme of madness, one silly the other, less so.
I'm sad to say I've gone insane,
completely up the spout.
My furpit's all a wollytog!
I think that I'm a sprout!
I'm mad I know! I've lost it all,
it's gone and run away!
Me marbles and me common sense,
I know not what to say...
The man who loudly thus declares "I'm sane!"most clearly, lies.
Look a little closer there, you'll see it in his eyes.
The crazy's just behind the door and creeping ever nearer.
It's not something to laugh about, let's just make that the clearer.
If you see someone is cracking, twitching, losing touch...
It's best you help them out a bit, before it gets too much.
One has to say now after all, that 'fore it came to this,
they were once like you and me, in ignorance and bliss.
On a truly serious note
Now that I have your undivided attention - I just thought I might use these two silly rhymes as stimulus for some real thought on the subject of mental health. Though those silly rhyming words may have caused mild amusement... I will actually be happier if they caused you to feel outrage - because that would probably be a more appropriate response. It is a sad indictment of modern society that there is still so much stigma attached to the topic of mental health. It is for this very same reason that so many people who could be helped through their difficulties with relative ease end up going to breaking point before somebody steps in to help them. People whose quality of life could be dramatically improved with a simple early diagnosis from a mental health professional, but who don't find out for years what help is available because they are afraid to ask. Afraid of what people will think of them if they find out that they have 'mental health issues'.
The light-hearted example of that first poem and the picture accompanying it is actually all too close to what many people think of when they think of insanity, or mental health disorders. There are a number of socio-cultural stereo-types that are still disturbingly prevalent in the modern conception of madness. The "harmless" madman is the first (though the order is irrelevant) stereotype - like the mad hatter this creation rambles incoherently, talks amusing nonsense and dresses strangely. The second stereotype is the villainous character of the Psychopath made popular by Hollywood. This character, whose illness is one of the rarer types of mental dysfunction, is one of the main reasons for a large amount of hostility from ignorant people towards those who actually deserve their support. We then have the "sexual deviant" who forms obsessive sexual attachment to unusual things, or strange relationships that "normal" people find hard to understand. Then there is the truly awful stereotype of the "burdensome" or "pitiable" madman who is incapable and needy and represented as being barely human at all. In turn each of these God-awful stereotypes has landed the mentally ill with responses, from their own so-called "tolerant" societies, that are pre-conditioned with hate, fear, misunderstanding, disgust and pity.
Those five attitudinal responses are the very worst anyone could fear to have directed at them. Is it any wonder then that people who need help, have trouble summoning the courage to find it? Is it any wonder that so many suffer in silence without proper care?
The truth of the matter is, that while our medical understanding of mental health has come on in leaps and bounds - our cultural understanding has not and it is time for that to change. I will be writing a series of hubs over the next few months exploring some of the history of how mental health has been viewed and treated in our society and covering breakthroughs in current understanding and treatments. I will also try to dispel some of the myths surrounding mental illness and share contact information of organizations who have made it their business to be there for people in need of support with their mental health. I hope you will join me in helping to spread awareness of these issues.
Thanks for reading. Peace :)
- Mental Health Foundation
The Mental Health Foundation cite their aim to be: reducing the suffering caused by mental ill health and to help everyone lead mentally healthier lives. Check out there website to see how they intend to do this, and how you could help with donations
- Mental health conditions | Carers Trust | The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care ar
Information for carers of people affected by mental health issues
- Rethink Mental Illness - Rethink Mental Illness: Young People
Mental health info, advice and support for young people from Rethink Mental Illness