Tuesday, July 31, 2007


If your leg were broke, you would not just ignore it. You would seek proper medical attention. Not to see a doctor would be “stupid”. It could cause you to possibly lose your leg or even die.
If you have measles, you would not ignore it. You would seek proper medical treatment. Not to see a doctor would be “stupid.” Not to be treated would not only endanger you but the lives of others around you.
The human mind is like any other part of your body. Your mind can get sick or be injured. Not to seek help from a doctor is “stupid.” Not to seek proper medical help could cause the injury or illness to get worse and might even destroy your life. Mental illness and injury can be treated, controlled and even cured.
We are not ashamed of a broken leg. We are not ashamed of having the measles. But for some illogical reason nobody wants to admit they might have a “mind” that has been injured or is sick. There is an ugly fear, even stigma, of being diagnosed as mentally injured or mentally ill.
The usual response to aberrant behavior is to ignore it until it gets so bad you can ignore it no longer. You hide your “crazy” aunt in the back room. You tolerate your nutty uncle’s bad behavior and just avoid him. The shame of this is their illness may just be a chemical imbalance that could be cured with medication. They could possibly live “normal’ loving productive lives if someone cared enough to help them get proper treatment.
The Philippines has an excellent Mental Health Association. The local chapter is compassionately managed by Mrs. Aurora Caluscusin-Flores. The office is staffed by equally compassionate and highly professional people. The new patient is given a series of psychological tests and their condition is expertly diagnosed. With proper treatment many patients fully recover and lead normal lives.
How do I know all this? I am one of their patients. I suffer what is called “Anxiety Disorder; acerbated by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”. I suffered a dysfunctional childhood and then was further traumatized by my military service. I take medication and undergo therapy sessions. Despite what my critics say I am not really “crazy”. My illness manifests itself in hypersensitivity and rages both of which I have been successful in controlling. Most people do not even know I have a medical problem. The shame is not in having a mental injury; the shame is not seeking proper treatment.
Substance addiction, beyond damaging the body, can also be an indication of possible mental problems. If your “loved one” is drunk every night, that is not normal. A friend of mine has a teenage son who pulled a knife on the maid and he is constantly physically abusing his little brother. He has serious separation anxiety and rage issues. He needs professional help before he kills someone. If you have a friend or relative who is subject to uncontrolled rage or anti-social behavior get them to the Philippine Mental Health Association and seek professional help. Mrs. Caluscusin-Flores and her staff are my Everyday Heroes for this week. Keep up the good work.

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