Monday, October 08, 2007

We are Crazy and Most of us don’t even Know it

Traveling down the same road breeds boredom and monotony. In relationships it is bound to cause frustration for the individual who was under the impression the subject that was discussed on the tired-ass road two-three weeks ago was a dead issue: Done with. Addressed. Solved! Of course, we all know that it does not work that way all the time. While I am of the belief that it should, I, more than likely am in the minority. Understanding that I perfectly comprehend that traveling down a more than familiar road does not excite people, it is my prayer you will stay with me for a few minutes – considering what I have typed below has been communicated by me on one occasion before. But, this time I am a tad bit more serious and determined to convince everyone reading that there is a pervasive problem among us that we must begin to identify as Mental Illness.

Mental Illness is real, and black people must begin to acknowledge its presence within our community. We can’t continue to taboo the subject like we have done HIV/AIDS. Insanity is not reserved for those black Vietnam War veterans we pass at highway exits. It is not some random disease that only affects society’s throwaways. No, Extreme Emotional Disturbance (EED) consumes the sista driving around in her silver Mercedes CLS63 AMG. What a hot ride! Mental illness is a part of the brotha’s DNA who appears to have it all together. The dude who has a certain je ne sais quoi that charms everybody. He has a metro-sexual contemporary furnished condo, a fly whip with factory rims, two degrees, a closet full of stylish clothing - and he goes to his $130,000 place of work each and every day as if there is not one problem. This man has it made. He is polished and put together quite well. He has to be. He manages multi-million dollar investments. But, one thing besides his loot and material items separates him from other fellas: He takes a “cuckoo pill” every night. This is the silly descriptive name he has given to his much needed chemical balancing medication. Yeah see, this black man needs something by the REAL name of Lexapro to manage his mood swings; his Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). If he does not take his daily dose, going to that six figure job would be out of the question. His Lazy Boy would surely get all of his attention. Along with the barrage of court television shows. And, on top of this depressing reality, his relationship with the woman who once believed her man was the shit, would be in shambles. Even his sex life would be almost non-existent because without that crazy man’s pill nothing ain’t going to pop-off up in his overpriced Ethan Allen king size bed. If it does, you best believe he is superficially in the sexual moment with his woman. He is somewhere far away dealing with his chemical imbalance that’s causing him to have suicidal thoughts. This man wants to die instead of getting that ass!

If I did not have your attention before I hope I do now because what I am trying to convey is critical.

It was not until Michael Vick was indicted on federal charges that I began to examine mental illness with more scrutiny. At the encouragement of Jay Steele, a lifelong friend and Elite, I actually began to convince myself that Vick’s self-destructive behavior could be linked to a psychological issue and/or disorder. Admitting to myself that Michael Vick’s actions could possibly be a result of a sick mentality appeared to change my opinion of the man I repeatedly referred to as Lamont Sanford (Dummy), but then I said to myself, “This man is stupid." Not crazy.” Nonetheless, isn’t it funny that stupid and crazy are used interchangeably all the time when referring to one’s unusual behavior? On too many occasions we regulate an individual to STUPID. It is easy to do this because it puts the responsibility back on the individual. It should be their act we are speaking of as stupid, not them per say. But, when it comes to crazy we rarely identify the behavior as crazy. We, immediately without caution, will say, ‘that Negro is crazy!’ while never believing it though.

This indicates to me that we are cautiously aware that some of us are mentally ill. However, we as a community fail to really do something about it. In all honesty, we don’t even address mental illness issues. We keep the person in the crazy category while never reaching over or back to provide that ‘in slavery’ type of love that was lost with integration. No, we are too far removed from identifying the obvious. For example, how could family members of Amber Hill, the Ohio mother of two toddlers, not know she was depressed? A deep depression, which apparently stems from domestic violence and the toughness of young motherhood, caused her to allegedly drown her two little girls. I will tell you why. Well, typically, if a brotha goes up to one of his best boys and say, ‘Man, I am depressed.’ The classic response: ‘Quit trippin’ and get over it.’ Or, how about this response that usually comes from a saved woman: ‘It will all be okay. Put it in God’s hands.’ You know I can go somewhere with this last piece of putting it in God’s hands foolishness – but I won’t today. This is how we help each other through mentally exacerbating times. We basically dismiss the issue as silliness, and as God’s help is all one needs. Where was God when Amber was holding her kids under a shallow collection of water in a low income Section 8 apartment bathtub?

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gOhTkOIsQlXZsrrUDiJ9BJ_ibAyQD8S4DJA00

Why? Is the question I would like to leave you with. Why aren’t we flocking into therapy sessions? Why are we the last to sign-up for a talk with the company shrink? Why aren’t we addressing the anger and resentment that sizzles through our pores? Why are we so afraid to admit that we have alarmingly serious psychological issues? Why? Perhaps, we are too ignorant to identify this sickness as mental illness. I doubt that. We are an intelligent race of people who are capable of accomplishing all things. We have been successful on countless fronts – but we are lacking in the win category when it comes to embracing our insanity.

Let’s leave the taboo and hush-hush realm, and do something to truly build each other back up emotionally and psychologically. None of us should feel alone in this world. The village proverb has to be reinforced daily. Just because some of us live in $300,000 homes is not indicative of everything is alright with us collectively. The essence of our stewardship should be caring for each other, and not this isolationist (black church) induced attitude: “helping only those members at OUR church”.

I always say that I am crazy. What if I disclosed to you that I am? Seriously, emotionally disturbed. What would you do as my brotha or sista? I ask again, what would you do? I don’t need to know what you would say. Give me your ‘doing actions’. Remember, I just told you that I am crazy!

Info on bipolar disorder and depression:

http://www.nmha.org/index.cfm?objectId=C7DF8995-1372-4D20-C85ABFB47A928F11

http://www.nmha.org/index.cfm?objectId=C7DF8C45-1372-4D20-C80E7F78C2F27791

Written by Muata. Inspired by the two and four year old girls killed by their mother. Inspired by the fact that Isaiah Thomas regulated these young black girls to a bitch before they even became teenagers.

12 comments:

Ms. G said...

Great timing. Did you know that this is Mental Health Awareness Week (Oct. 7 - 13) and that today is Bipolar Awareness Day (Oct. 11)?

I am extremely happy to see that you are taking time out to address the mental health issues in our community. There are so many of our people suffering from untreated mental illness disorders and we see the consequences everyday: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives. Did you know that the government spends more than 100 billion dollars each year on untreated mental illnesses?

What we don't realize is that mental illness is a biologically based brain disorder that can be treated with proper medical supervision and recovery support. Mental illness does not happen because someone is "crazy" or "mad". In fact, it has absolutely nothing to do with who you are as a person and is certainly not a reflection of poor character or low intelligence. Willpower and prayer alone is not enough to ward off mental illness SO PLEASE DON'T DELAY IN SEEKING HELP or suggesting that your loved one seek treatment.

Folks listen up, with early intervention and with proper support and service, serious mental disorders like bipolar disorder, major depression, and schizophrenia are TREATABLE conditions. Take more time to learn about the issues and/or get involved. Do your part in reducing the stigma and shame of mental illness.

Here are a few more resources you can check out in:

Georgia Crisis and Access to Mental Health Services 24/7 Statewide Helpline 800-715-4225
www.gcal.com

National Alliance on Mental Illness(NAMI) www.nami.org
NAMI helpline 800-950-6264

National Alliance on Mental Illness - Georgia
www.namiga.org
770-234-0855 or 800-728-1052

Georgia Parent Support Network
www.gpsn.org

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Adminstration Center for Mental Health (SAMHSA)
www.mentalhealth.samhsa.gov

Ms. G said...

Correction: The Georgia Crisis & Access to Mental Health Services web address is www.mygcal.com

FREEDOM said...

You raised the question at the end of your piece, what would you do if someone told you that they were crazy not say, but do. I am telling you that I have some issues mostly with making a decision and being consistent, which causes me to be unsure of myself.

I was discussing with my boss that I found some errors in a previous report and that I corrected the errors. He reminded me that I should not alter the previous report because that report had already been sent out, but make comments of the current report of the errors from the previous report because the previous report had already been sent out to the Board and other groups.

This illustration is parallel to my behavior I have sent messages that were incorrect of who I am and now I want to go back and remove the errors so that the corrected me can be seen and not the me that was flawed. My lesson I have learned was it is true that you cannot go back and change what has happened, but you can correct the problem the next time around with a new report. A report containing an explanation for what the error was from the previous encounter and being careful to pay attention to what you’re doing in the future.

I have grown so much as a person from getting to know you as a writer and critical thinker. Along with Christianity, I have been exposed. Exposed for the scared person that I am at times. Now my mission has become saving Freedom Marenda Taylor because I know if I can save her I will be free to live out the purpose that I came to planet earth for. The purpose that I was created for. The purpose that God has given me to do “A Charge I have to Keep A God to Glorify May it ALL my POWER engaged to do my Master’s Will”. Do you know that hymn? I am the master of my soul, of my life. A Charge I Have To KEEP! God has given me the Power. Jesus and other critical thinkers have shown me the way to the path less traveled, but filled with that Mind Peace. A Peace of Mind.

One of my charges is not to stifle my growth. To associate with those who are serious about addressing key issues facing the black community and to start by looking in the mirror to see how my behavior, thoughts, actions, motives, and decisions will impact the black community and myself. I would only be hindering my own progress if I turned my back on you and the other critical thinkers that are collectively debating civilly to bring about change in our communities.

I just realized that I have been bamboozled, hoodwinked and brainwashed to think that it is acceptable to quit, to give up because of my personal weaknesses and insecurities. I have been running away from making the right decisions for myself for far too long. I enjoy each and every writing of yours, and the feedback and debating from everyone. I will not cut off that good and tasty fruit prematurely. No not I. I am going to stay on this black consciousness road to freedom and this subconscious battlefield until the day I die! I will continue to support my fellow writers and contributors to opening up the mind to black consciousness and awareness. Staying alert is vital.

Each and everyday I am becoming a little wiser through the alliances that I forged and through the mistakes that I have made. The cycle ends tonight October 11, 2007. There are certain people that walk into your life that you let walk out and then there are those people that walk into your life and shake you up and you were not used to this and immediately you start seeing life, self, and the world in a completely different light. The light scares you at first because you are used to being subconsciously and mentally ill by tradition and its rules and standards. You are constantly told to put others before yourself, but slowly you lose yourself until you see a Jesus revolutionary figure in the distance. You become frightened because your way of thinking is changing you to thinking outside of the box instead of being inside of the box. This is what you and the others have helped me to see. Thank you all.

Therefore, to answer your question what would I do if someone tells me that they are crazy? I would take a moment and sit down and research the cause behind the craziness for that person and lead them to websites and breaking news reports that shows them deadly signs and results of staying in that place. I would firmly, but loving assist them into finally once and for all dealing with themselves and help them to stop wrecking every relationship that they enter into rather career, personal, or friendship. Thank you!

WITH this piece a friend is the only one that would have taken the time to actually sit down and write a piece that may be offensive and shocking to their friend, but helpful in mirroring the image of one’s behavior to reflect the side that has two faces. Mental Illness is real because this is when the mind is sick. The mind is crying for a pain reliever. The mind is truly the most complex entity in our body. A sick mind breed’s impulsiveness and I for one want to stop this cycle and have a healthy mind.

“God grant me the Serenity to Accept the things that I cannot Change, Courage to Change the things that I Can and Wisdom to KNOW the Difference”!

A Mind at Peace.

Freedom

Muata said...

Reader Responds:

Looks like you didn't get many responses on the mental health blog you put up. Shame really. When we want to talk about relationships and what happened to black love we are front and center. When we want to talk about racism and discrimination and we are ready to beat somebody down. But if you want to clear a room quickly then start talking about mental illness.

We are making strides but there is still a way to go.

-RG

Muata said...

Muata responds to RG:

What I have discovered is that topics related to racism, relationships, and religion receive most of the attention. This is not all bad, but an issue as important as Mental Illness within the Black Community should attract some attention. At least more than 3 responses. However, I am pleased that people are reading. It is my hope and prayer people are receiving my efforts as an attempt to be a mouthpiece that encourages discussion with others.

Black folk have so many issues to face. Most, today, are of our on invention. Yes, slavery has drastically affected us - but when will we address the affects of slavery while taking some responsibility for our own shortcomings that we purport DAILY i.e. all types of foolishness!

I refuse to be limited to writing about racism, relationships, and religion. I just ain't gonna do it. We have too many issues that need our attention e.g. the environment, the impacts of gentrification, crime, the globalization, the digital divide, and our poor performance in education.

I thank you for staying with me! Your response made my day. I needed to know that there are more than 3 people out there concerned about something that's destroying us: Mental Illness Neglect.

-Muata

Muata said...

Reader RG responds to Muata:

You know, I currently work in mental health and spent many years in social service agencies working with foster care systemic issues. There aren't many days out of the week where I don't think about the way we glaze over these issues in our community. I find that topics like depression and neglected kids pull at our heart strings but most times we don't know how to make a difference for crazy uncle Pete or poor little Keisha. And I must admit that it’s kinda uncomfortable to try and help you don't know if your help is welcomed or needed or if you are going to do more harm than good. It’s tough...especially when you are already overwhelmed with your own baggage.

It makes me happy to see you putting the message out there. We need to talk about these things. I just wish there was a way for us to be more proactive and less reactive about the issues. Unfortunately, the system that we live in is highly reactive too. Preparedness and prevention get very little attention....we only shout and scream when it becomes an inconvenient problem.

So thank you for making us feel uncomfortable Brian. lol. (I mean this as a compliment) Now if only you can single handedly help our peeps figure out the "what I want" and the "How to get it" for their lives so we won't get stuck always complaining about what's wrong.

-RG

Muata said...

Muata responds to RG:

My method is to use the power of writing to encourage change. This is the talent I am using as my gift from God. I have worked within our community, and I discovered that it is too difficult and depressing when trying to convince someone that they need help. Especially, when you can offer them assistance. In a way, I have given up on so many of us. Sad, but I am at a place that leaves me with this statement to my people: 'You can do it if you want it.' It is that simple.

I understand situations are different - but in the end if you are capable to do you must do or perish. Slaves beat a destructive system. They survived for us, and yet some of us sit and walk around here with our pants below our ass. Looking like fools!

RG, I am tired. The solutions are right in front of us. Most of us don't want change. They want BET video lives. So, the power of written word is all I am giving at this point in my life. My sanity is more important to me. But, I will sadly say that part of my happiness and part of my peace is connected to black people restoring dignity in our race. This is my DNA. My make-up. I am tied to us doing right while steady trying to run away from us. I might just die unhappy and not at peace.

My passion for black people to rectify the mess runs deep. I am in pain over us.

I teared-up on this one.

God, help me!

-Muata

Muata said...

Reader Response:

This was especially interesting to me since I am a clinical social worker who happens to be a Christian. I often struggle internally when I am doing "therapy" because when it is all said and done (you have study theory, technique, evidence based practice etc.) it is this objective, non-judgemental human connection that helps the person through. Yes, some people need medication coupled with therapy but medication alone is not the answer. I feel that is what GOD wants us to do...make that non-judgemental human connection.

-AP

Muata said...

Muata responds to AP:

I understand. "non-judgmental connection". You are right.
Interesting. The bible states that we should not be judgmental, but there is evidence throughout the bible that specifically indicates that God, Himself, was extremely judgmental. How do we reconcile this biblical truth when in fact God asks us to be, through scripture, non-judgmental?

-Muata

Muata said...

AP responds to Muata:

I agree that GOD is judgemental however he is "The Judge". If you are a believer that he is the only perfect entity then he is the only one that can sit in the judgement sit.

-AP

Muata said...

Muata responds to AP:

How do we come to believe that God is this caring and fair Judge when in fact God, biblically, has an extremely disturbing image. Throughout the Old Testament God was literally a terror. A mean Being. Even in the New Testament (Revelations) God's behavior is off the charts! So, I am always amazed by how we continue to have this level of reverence for a Being that sanctioned murder, misogyny, genocide, and other acts that we call EVIL/WRONG.

-Muata

Muata said...

AP responds Muata:

Please do not be surprised by my reverence for GOD, because like the fact that you went from not being able to write to being an author (and the thought gives you chills) I have been the recipient and have witnessed things that are nothing short of miraculous in my life and that of others. Every perspective has some merit! I agree that God can be angry and vengeful however I believe that his actions ultimately always come from a place of love and a desire for us to live up to our GOD given potential.

I don't claim to speak for GOD, for all Christians (because as we know we don't all agree) I just know that in striving to be more like Jesus I am a better person. I have a long way to go and a lot of questions...let's keep the dialogue going it is quite refreshing.

-AP