I get calls from David. Complaining about this or that. Today he was refusing to go to school. After explaining why he didn’t want to go to school, I let David know that he can’t hide from whatever or whomever he thinks is bothering him. And that he should go to school. I figured that was the end of it. About 6 hours later, I received a call from a staff member. David had a rough day. He struggled with being in school because “dad told me I didn’t have to go to school today.” Now, if David is known to lie, why would they believe him? It would have been a simple matter to get me on the phone and ask me if I had told him that. Quick and easy verification. I talked to his Care Coordinator who doesn’t work in the facility where David lives, and touched
Dear Uncle. I went to visit you in hospice center yesterday. It isn’t the first time I have been there. Each time, I wonder how I will find you. Will you be awake? Will you still be there? You look so small laying there, not like the farmer I knew who would tackle any job no matter how large. When I first arrived, as I quietly entered your room, I discovered that your roommate was out. You were laying there, and my first thought was that you had passed. Then I heard you inhale. You were just asleep. On one hand, I am relieved that you are still with us. On the other hand, I wish that your pain was over. As I went to sit in a chair, I figured you would wake eventually, and then we could visit. A nurse came in, making a ruckus and waking you.
While it may seem easy for me to say something like “we should not stigmatize the mentally ill for the mental illnesses that they have”, because in reality, the mentally ill have no more control over their illness than someone with a neuropathy, or cancer. David, for example, didn’t ask to have mental illnesses. He didn’t ask to be born addicted to drugs. He was born this way. Now, it should be clear, it is important to note that we should not make excuses for behaviors. Though behaviors are often a manifestation of the underlying condition, the behaviors can not be excused. Accountability can be held for those who are mentally ill and the behaviors that they exhibit. To move forward in care, we need to embrace the diagnosis. We need to ensure that we are not scapegoating these people. They should not be hidden away from society. We need