There are almost no news stories, absolutely zilch, coming from the mass media about people who have recovered from serious mental illnesses. Instead you get stories about people who are ‘in recovery’, taking ‘the road to recovery’, or using a treatment program with the word ‘recovery’ in the title, or something of the sort.
People can and do recover from serious mental illnesses. People completely recover from mental illnesses, and they get on with the process of living their lives. This is not top secret privileged information. Some people have managed to get beyond whatever it was that was holding them back, and some of those people have even gone on to accomplish some fantastic things.
I don’t want to minimize the problems people have encountered in overcoming the challenges associated with their psychiatric diagnoses. Often those obstacles and difficulties stem more from the experience of institutionalization itself than they do from the mentally ill tag received.
Hospitalization can take a person’s house, a person’s job, a person’s family and friends, a person’s self-respect, a person’s time, and even a person’s basic identity away from him or her. The individual’s struggle then becomes one of how to achieve some sort of a decent life once the life they’d known has been taken away from them.
People learn. Actors and actresses are aware that they can slip out of one role and into another at the drop of a hat. Gays and lesbians, doing military service, are aware that they may not want to let their sexual preference leak out if they want to continue at their term of duty. Former mental patients are aware that they must be discrete with the amount of information they let get into the public domain regarding their pasts.
I’d like to see this situation change. The more people there are that are able to come out of the mad closet, the better. When people are able to admit that any mental disturbance they had in the past is history, we all benefit. Story after story in the news today indicates some major failure of the mental health system. Well, it’s not all failure. Some people have managed to find the doorknob, and some of those people have actually gotten past the label of serious mental illness thereby.