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Sestina on Mental Illness

Updated on June 10, 2010

Mental illness is not a well understood condition

Its symptoms and victims are surrounded by stigma

Mentally ill people make us uncomfortable

They make us uncomfortable because they do things that are not socially acceptable

They sometimes put the people they love in danger

But mentally ill people can also use their madness to create art


Treating mental illness correctly is an art

And every treatment option has to be perfectly adjusted to a patient’s condition

An imperfectly prescribed medication can put the patient in danger

People who need drugs for their mind are crazy, or at least that’s the stigma

A doctor prescribing the wrong medication is never acceptable

Many mentally ill do not take medication because it makes them uncomfortable


When I see crazy homeless men on the promenade, they make me feel uncomfortable

I often see them, singing, collecting cans, or making art

Nobody ever stops to look, but just walks by, because that’s more acceptable

Sometimes when I pass by, I think if there’s anything I can do to improve their condition

These homeless are usually labeled “lazy” by the average passersby, but that’s just stigma

Although you may want to help, approaching one of them might put you in danger


Mentally ill people can sometimes be angry and violent, and therein lies the danger

An even though walking past is easier; it sometimes makes a conscience uncomfortable

Many mentally ill people are shunned by society because of stigma

Walking the line between being cautious and compassionate is definitely an art

It can also be difficult to separate the person from the condition

You should always try to first find the parts of that person that are most acceptable


Even the most debilitating mental disorders can be managed to a level that’s acceptable

And help the families of a victim stop living with such danger

There is hope for even the most out of control patient that he can control his condition

If you have ever been in a mental hospital you know that treatment can be uncomfortable

There is only one word for the struggle that victims go through: art

And despite drawbacks, mentally ill people can get jobs and beat the stigma


The biggest job of a mental illness advocacy group is to fight the stigma

Their loudest message is that discrimination is never acceptable

Sometimes advocates will show achievements by the mentally ill, such as writing and art

They always have to make sure not to offend anyone, there always exists that danger

Sometimes even hearing patients interviewed is uncomfortable

But it’s always interesting to see the way a person deals with their condition


The art of speaking about mentally ill people without stigma is an art

Hopefully someday every mental condition will seem more socially acceptable

And mentally ill people will pose no danger or make us uncomfortable

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