Some Awarenesses We’d Do Better To Live Without

A local mental health, oops, wrong word. A local “mental illness” system advocacy group, the Mental Health Coalition of North Central Florida, is going to have their own little NAMIfied shindig. They are holding this event for what they call “Mental Illness Awareness Day”. My immediate response on hearing the announcement is found in the following question. Wouldn’t it be better to hold a “Mental Illness Unawareness Day”? When it comes to awareness, “mental illness” awareness is just not the kind of awareness I find particularly helpful. I kind of have this feeling, you know, screwed up enlightenment isn’t really enlightenment.

This group. the MHCNCF, has even given the event a name. It’s called Gainesville Day of Understanding For Mental Illness Recovery. Again, I’ve got an issue with the name. Why the heck would anybody want to recover a “mental illness”? And if this or that person had a “mental illness”, and managed to lose it, would that really be such a bad thing? I suppose some people are really sentimental about their problems, but those problems are probably not such good things to hang onto. They’re not answers anyway. What sort of understanding should anybody have then of this “mental illness” a person has recovered? Now tell me that isn’t a bad choice of words.

Another possibility would be to throw a Mental Health or Mental Wellness Awareness Day shindig, and to talk about understanding the recovery of complete mental well being, but I imagine the thought is beyond the capacity of this little group of mostly scoundrels to comprehend. Where is this little shindig going to be? In a community senior recreation center? Already I’m seeing a few young heads, look both ways, and then walk off in the opposite direction. I don’t know. Yes, yes, old age and feeble minds might go together, but let’s not cut to the hearse chase if we can help from doing so. I don’t want to sound too critical, but a senior recreation center sounds less neutral to me than another location that might be less apt to scare off the few ingenues among them.

This leads me to the agenda for this event. #1. Proclamation of Mental Illness Awareness Week. Yikes! Didn’t I just deal with this subject, and they want a week of it. Again, I would suggest a “Mental Illness” Unawareness Week. It makes more sense to me; I’d think it should make more sense to them, too. #2. Path of Understanding. Path of Understanding “mental illness” recovery I presume. Geez, just think…There are other paths, and some of them are even challenging. #3. Celebrity Walk of Fame. Uh, because celebrities make “mental illness” cool I imagine. #4. Resource Station. Yep, I believe that’s a sign taped over the word “police”. #5. Candle lighting service. I know, this is going to be about people believed to be destroyed by “mental illness”, and not about people believed destroyed by the mental health system. The horses are calm so long as they have their blinders on. #6. Moment of silence. Any longer and the gig would be up. Everybody would know this little event is a farce.

I get it. Really. Take your drugs, and enjoy the farce without ever attaining consciousness that it is a farce. Do so, as well as you can, anyway, despite the “side effects” from the drugs you are on. Consciousness, after all, is what people given diagnostic labels are presumed to be lacking in. If you are dosed sufficiently, then you shouldn’t be able to attain consciousness anyway. Perhaps your understanding will be limited to understanding “mental illness” recovery. The fact that some people really do recover from the upsets of a crisis period, and go on to live full and eventful lives, is not the kind of message these folks want to give. This event isn’t really about living an independent self-reliant and emotionally satisfying life anyway. It’s about holding out that little tin cup, and crying, “Nickels for your pity.” They’re hoping, beyond hope, that maybe the government is listening.

If I was in government, I could do better than support people in their “mental illnesses”. For one thing, I could get further more economically if I were supporting people in their “mental well-nesses”. Treatment can be darned expensive, and a burden on the entire nation. An expanding “mental illness” system, what these people are after, means an even bigger expense and an even bigger burden. Accountability, responsibility, for people who work in mental health services should entail helping people get out of the system entirely rather than encouraging them  to accept the dependency role of what amounts to a ward of the state. The system here has a whole lot of rethinking to do before it gets back on track. All I can do is  chuckle my amusement as I’m certain that that rethinking, in the long run, is inevitable. Let me tell you, it certainly represents an improvement over the current stupidity.

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