Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What to do if you know someone like this


Mental illness is so misunderstood, so hard to pin down, so scary, people tend to try to ignore it even in their families--or especially in their families.

The Tucson tragedy is a case in point.

You may not know your legally adult child is posting things on the internet about how he could eat a dead body whole.

Or plotting for years to kill a member of Congress who had sort of brushed him off.

Someone you know may be withdrawn, in tears all day, saying irrational things, hearing things, seeing things you don’t see, or holding ideas that are not mainstream or which do not make “sense.” That person may also be taking drugs to make this stop.

Mental illness is from imbalances in the brain, made worse by stress. It’s like someone put tainted oil in a car—it won’t run correctly. The commonest types are depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders.

Someone in your family may be acting threateningly or strangely. At least see what you are looking at. Go to: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/information/get-info/mi-and-the-family/recognizing-warning-signs-and-how-to-cope.

It’s a start. You may have heard you cannot commit someone to treatment as easily as before a lot of programs were cancelled a few years ago and the hospitals emptied out into the streets. Or you may think your insurance won’t pay or you can’t pay.

This may all be true—but you know if you need to do something. And today’s the day. You do not ever want to go through what those Saturday morning shoppers did in Tucson—and you can’t want to be the family saying you are so sorry, but you just can’t think of any words that will help.

There aren't any words that can help. Only actions--and now.

Call (800) 273-TALK.

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