Skully posted a link to twitter a little bit ago that just about sent me through the roof. It was an article about how those with mental illnesses feel shafted by the medical community that's supposed to be helping them and if you are someone with a mental illness or love someone who has one it will piss you off, too. Doctors and nurses are only human beings (two of my close relatives are nurses and damn fine ones) but when it's YOUR life that's being screwed with their human foibles are just so much bullshit.
Let me give you a little personal history so you can have a better idea of where I'm coming from with this and so you can understand why I'm shaking with rage as I type this. When I was a kid I had epilepsy. The cluster of symptoms that I had pointed to what is now known as Juvenile Absence Epilepsy, which includes both absence seizures (where you stare off into space for a minute but don't lose conciousness) and tonic-clonic seizures (where you do lose conciousness). I was put on a course of phenobarbital (a barbituate) and dilantin (not a barbituate but with other fun side effects) and regularly monitored by EEG (the feeling of cold clay still gives me the willies). I was tapered off the meds in junior high school but experienced heavy duty deja vus and other symptoms of Simple Partial Seizures (which are not detectable on EEGs) until high school. A majority of people who develop epilepsy as children eventually 'grow out of it.' In other words it's a bad time to make a permanent decision about someone else's life.
When I was in third grade (eight years old for those not in the US public school system) my teacher was convinced there was 'something wrong' with me. My pediatrician wrote her a letter explaining the situation and they agreed that maybe I should be psychologically tested. Enter Dr. Frankenstein, the school district psychologist (with apologies to Mary Shelley). He was old school, near retirement. He tested me for an hour (I vaguely remember working a couple of puzzles) and was convinced that I was a highly functioning 'mentally defective' child. He told my grandparents, who were raising me, that I would never go on to college; I might not graduate from high school. The best they could hope for me was a skilled labor job somewhere but what he really recommended was institutionalization. I could get the care I needed and they could get on with their lives. My grandfather refused, mercifully. This was all related to me later by my grandfather, when I was on Christmas break from my sophomore year at college. Suddenly a LOT of little personal mysteries made sense.
Institutionalization was being phased out as a 'solution' for epilepsy in the 70s and as of now it almost never happens. It never should have happened in the first place. People with neurological disorders, mental illnesses, personality disorders are PEOPLE. They're human beings with a RIGHT to be seen as such, not as cases to be managed. It always irritates me when I read about communities for any disorder looking for a 'face' in order to raise awareness because you know what? I have a face and I know what it looks like. Marketing a famous person isn't going to change a bully's mind in the middle of a beatdown but maybe I can. Maybe you can. And the place to start is by treating each other, even when we're exhausted or fed up, like we're all the beautiful, messy creatures we are.