No one ever chooses mental illness of any kind and healing usually doesn’t happen, except perhaps over decades. The darkness the afflicted go in and out of on a regular basis is torture for the victims and extremely stressful for those family members who must care for them. It is misleading and gives false hope to expect them to be fully healed in this life.
Medications are extremely valuable and generally essential in managing mental illness. Sufferers are then able to function reasonably well in society, at least on a limited basis. However, many are often among the disabled who cannot handle the normal annoyances of daily life, let alone the greed and “gotta get there firstest with the mostest,” which is the current attitude in too many cultures in our business and medical worlds. I am thinking of specific employees who slam through their assignments or their lab tests to be first on the team for productivity. They tend to create havoc for those they are supposed to be serving, as well as those of us who clean up after them. The attitude of Get More Done begins at the top of the command chain, as always.
What Causes Mental Illness
There are over 200 forms of mental illness, ranging from mild or moderate depression to anxiety disorders and severe illnesses such as dementia, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Obviously then, no simple answers exist as to what causes mental illness. Many conditions are genetic and can run in families, being already half-expected to show up somewhere in a given generation. Still others have physical causes such as plaques in the brain. Chemical imbalances in the brain and environmental stressors are very common causes. At other times mental illness seems to strike from nowhere, with the family member the first to be diagnosed.
Most families are not prepared to cope with this kind of illness, and support from family or friends is often sparse or non-existent. This is something we can all do something about! Be there for your friends who are dealing with this crisis. Let them talk to you about what they’re going through. Even if we’re not qualified or educated enough to offer actual advice, they need us as a sounding board. Even as genuinely ill as mental illness patients are, they can be exasperating to deal with, do not always take their meds when they should, and can be deceitful and manipulative. However, there is no shame for anyone in being fragile. We are all fragile in at least one area of our lives.
Even when emotional support is there, it is still difficult to afford the horrible price of most medications. Early in the year, some drug companies do offer assistance with the costs through the prescribing physician and a limited fund the drug company maintains. Some HMO plans have quite good coverage for medicine up to a point, but if you’re on Medicare, you will have a coverage gap called the donut hole. When a specific level of drug costs is reached, no matter what is being treated, Medicare pays no more until thousands more dollars have been spent by the patient. On the far side of the donut hole, Medicare will pick up 100% until the new year begins. Then you start over again. This coverage gap is being phased out over the next several years but it remains to be seen what our lackluster Congress will do next.
What Does NOT Cause Mental Illness
Those who do not have a family member suffering from mental illness often have little comprehension of what it means or how it happened. But I will state very bluntly: It is NOT the result of committing sin! Depression is not a sin! And it is NOT a sin to be suffering from the more severe forms of mental illness either. Living in sin and committing other crimes does not result in mental illness. They may well result in self-imposed guilt trips because your conscience knows right from wrong even when you’re busy ignoring it. It is up to each one of us individually to change our direction so that our conscience does not need to nag us.
The mentally ill often lack the ability to reason well and end up making errors in judgement, including committing serious crimes. But…the mental illness came first.
The population of Los Angeles County is 9,818,605. Los Angeles City has more than 4 million residents. The San Fernando Valley has close to 2 million residents and most of the valley is part of Los Angeles City. A high percentage of the homeless population (about 31% in Los Angeles County) suffer from mental illness and have had no access to needed medications for several years since bureaucrats closed the free clinics where they could get their psychiatric drugs. Shortsighted? Cheapskate? Call the decision what you will, it had terrible consequences for human beings. Other free clinics still exist and it is hoped psychiatric meds are soon being made available again.
Remember to Read the Scriptures
One last comment that is extremely important is that all of us benefit from reading holy scriptures on a daily basis. Many will disdain this activity but scripture reading brings a peace that nothing else can. By itself, it does not heal mental illness but when the spirit is calm, the mind and heart are more receptive to help that is being offered. This help can be medicine, appropriate psychotherapy, or counseling from qualified friends and religious leaders. Never overlook the help that God is placing right in front of us.