I was told that all people suffering from a mental illness are violent which is not true as the vast majority of people with a mental condition are no more violent than anyone else. You might even know someone who has this condition without being aware of it. Mental illnesses are surprisingly common and unlike us, they do not discriminate. They can actually affect anyone. Nearly every family has a neighbor, a friend or an acquaintance who suffers from some kind of mental illness or another.
I remember an instance when my son was in a psychiatric hospital and I felt that some of the staff members were not only guilty of discrimination but had no idea of the meaning of the word empathy. My son was very ill, suffering from paranoid schizophrenia which is a serious illness, and I felt that the professional psychiatric workers should have been more understanding. On one occasion when David’s doctor was particularly hurtful, I turned around to him and said;
“Doctor, I have done a lot of reading on the subject of mental illness and wish I had studied it. But there is one thing that I found in every book or article on the subject; people in every single walk of life can be affected by a mental illness, irrespective of color, profession or social standing and one day, it might even strike your family.”
I didn’t feel good saying this but you must realize how very upset I had been. The psychiatrist had been anything but empathetic.
I wonder whether psychiatric professionals learn at medical school to keep their distance from the patient’s family. Maybe they have their hearts removed to stop them feeling like the rest of us. I would like to suggest that when dealing with a young man as sick as David was, that they remember how they might feel if this happened to them. A kind word can only be of help to all concerned.