Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I don't know if the Owen Wilson incident has shaken me up. Or even made me sad. I guess if anything I can relate. It was about two years ago to the date that I started losing it. It's easy to remember because August 26 was Hurricane Katrina (it hit FLA on 25th and was getting read to dump near the Gulf of Mexico), and when you are a person who is depressed but doesn't think you are depressed, your mind becomes your enemy. And it plays tricks on you, like how could I be suffering when I levee broke and millions of people are heading out with only the stuff on their backs?
At 24 I had a break down. I always knew through family genes that I was susceptible to mental health issues. Bi-polar, manic, depression, alcoholism, all part of the Iron Range family tree. But when you are an outgoing person who can role with the punches all of your life, you think "hey, maybe I'm the lucky one. Maybe it missed me, or I won't be affected." Regrettably, those thoughts did creep into my mind. If I made it to adulthood, through all forms of school and everyone else had been diagnosed at an early age, then I must not have it. I can't have it. I've made it this far, there is nothing traumatic in my life to cause depression, I should know the signs, the rest of my family has suffered.
You get the drift.
I won't compare myself to Owen. I don't think we really have anything in common. Never meeting the man, I'm not sure what his issues where that brought him to the hospital. But I can tell you there are prolly similarities that exist between Owen, me and the millions of other people that suffer from a mental illness, whether temporary or life-long. We think we have it together. We have had successes and failures and have coped. And then it's like a switch one morning -- your brain starts questions things -- things you had always taken for granted. And it snowballs and it consumes you, even though you think you are smart enough and are not being consumed.
I was lucky. And so is Owen Wilson. We both have families that intervened. I ended up on the 7th Floor at Southdale, adamant that "I am not a crazy person." And there are two things that make mental health really troublesome.
1. You can't see.
It's not like a broken bone or a bruise. To everyone it is invisible, unless they are smart enough to see some of the signs. But for the most part you can hide it, and you can hide it well and easily.
2. When you are admitted to a "psych floor" because of how mental health is categorized and if you are uninsured they put everyone together. I was/am considered temporarily depressed. My roommate at Southdale was a life-long schitzo who heard voices and would scream and had to have her wrists tied down in the middle of the night.
But because of mental health we were all herded together like the abandoned cattle that aren't good enough to be t-bones, but could make an ok leather belt or baseball glove eventually.
Our healthcare system, because of how it is set up with a profit-first then help people, won't give people with mental illness the attention and help they need, especially if they are uninsured, unless something irrational happens or a person attempts suicide.
Maybe it's because I enjoy Owen Wilson's work or maybe it's because of the timing. Sunday, would have been the beginning of 13 day stretch that I would lose control of myself, my thoughts and would end up on the 7th floor at Southdale, by actions of my own choice and concerns of my family.
People are strange. We become parts of packs and tribes that we want to be part of and ones that we aren't proud of. Owen, I and millions of others are part of a tribe, it just sad that people (those suffering, healthcare system and society) don't take notice until you try to take your life.