The Human Side

Collage art

In the aftermath of the Aurora shootings, it will be important for those of us with mental illness to use the teachable moments that are bound to come our way.  News reports and media coverage have debated endlessly over Holmes’ state of mind.  Is he a sociopath?  Was he on a manic spree?  Did he suffer a psychotic break?  Is he faking?  We can help answer those questions.

Those of us who are “in the closet” about out illnesses will want to burrow deeper behind the winter coats.  Do what you need to feel safe and keep your loved ones protected.  Those of us who are public can help the people we encounter understand a little better.  Be willing to engage in the conversation.  Be gentle.  Don’t take their ignorance or anger personally.  Help people see that this type of behavior is uncommon and certainly can’t be faked.

Once again, mental illness will be demonized and feared.  Anything that looks this scary and can become so deadly is terrifying.  All we can do is show folks the human side of mental illness.  No one person stands for all—not in the general public, and certainly not in the insane.

Bless you all for your courage.

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. pegoleg
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 09:47:41

    It never even occurred to me that when somebody mentally ill does something heinous it would reflect poorly on all. There are so many varieties, shades and degrees of mental illness I don’t see how anybody could ever lump them together.

    Have you experienced this kind of “you’re all alike” thinking?


    • Sandy Sue
      Jul 26, 2012 @ 17:16:18

      I have had people say to me, “You can’t have a mental illness because you don’t…” then list homicidal maniac traits. I remember one time I laughed and said, “No, I never killed and dissected puppies, but I did teach one to read and write. We had lovely conversations one summer.”


  2. ManicMuses
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 12:01:06

    Well said, Sandy!


  3. littlesundog
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 17:08:28

    This is an important post. It speaks to me of understanding and compassion. I especially love the last line about courage. Indeed… this journey requires much courage. Bless you, my friend, for being such an inspiration!


  4. Kathryn McCullough
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 22:07:24

    Thanks so much for writing this, Sandy. I had considered doing something myself, but just haven’t gotten around to it. Well said, my friend!


  5. rachelmiller1511
    Jul 26, 2012 @ 08:40:13

    In my mind I see a huge difference between having a mental illness and being a psychopath. In my mind they guy was possessed- literally. That to me is a very different story. I don’t think it will change how I feel about my Bipolar or being open with others, but I certainly see how it would be so for others. Very good point!


  6. Liz
    Aug 01, 2012 @ 18:24:55

    I came to your site via Illustration Friday, and am very impressed with both your art and your insights into your illness, and the world around you. I have a very smart creative child, who suffers from both ADHD and depression (an illness on both sides of his family), and so while I am fortunate to have missed that gene, I have lived with people so burdened my whole life. I congratulate you on your positive actions, and will continue to follow your blog. Thank you.


  7. Nisha Roady
    Aug 10, 2012 @ 10:44:03

    The web is a funny thing… I found your page by looking for samples of drawn faces for my 11 year old boy to help him with an art assignment. I am so glad to “meet” you. God Bless!


  8. Trackback: Ministry & the Mentally Ill, Once More | Broken Believers ♥

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