Mental Illness. - The illness of denial?
As I have repeatedly stated, I support and welcome guest blog posts. I am pleased to announce that next week, 8/22/22, I will have a guest blog post by Cody Mcbride on the topic; Making Your Mark as an Influencer: Questions You Should Ask Yourself. Thank you Cody for your submission.
Greetings. This week's post is an expansion of last week's video post as a result of many emails I have received asking me to discuss this topic further. However, before we begin, there are a couple of reading ground rules. Is there such a thing? The first is that mental illness is a topic that everyone hears about and knows about but does not want to deal with the reality of its existence. Therefore, here are the ground rules.
1. READ THIS ENTIRE POST.
2. These are medical facts, not my opinion. Any personal experiences I relate to are based on medical facts and the facts of the events. Not opinion.
Some of the questions I will be addressing in this post are:
- Sources of mental illness.
- Where and when does it start.
- How to recognize it.
- How to deal with it.
- Awareness/Parental denial.
Keep in mind this is a blog post, not a book. Each one of these topics can get into greater length. There is sufficient information available on the internet if you want to know more about a particular topic. As we begin, I would like you to keep the following two things in mind.
Being a parent is a lifetime job.
A parent's job never ends.
LET'S ADDRESS ALL THESE POINTS:
There is numerous diagnosis of mental illnesses. Only a professional in that field can diagnose and choose the proper treatment method for a particular type of mental illness. Mental illness comes in many forms and for many reasons. It can be as simple as depression, anxiety, or other forms of illness. Not all types of mental illness present a danger to society, people, and those suffering from them. However, identifying the source is where the challenge begins.
For example, for many people that are affected by some form of mental illness, the source can be traced back to their childhood. Yes, I know. You have heard that millions of times. However, it is a proven fact. We must keep in mind how a child learns. A child learns by example, association, their surroundings, and the people they are surrounded by. Keeping that in mind, we must also know that at younger ages, a child does not understand or have the ability to rationalize what they see. However, they are old enough for it to affect their emotions and leave a lasting impact.
This is paramount in cases of child abuse or neglect. I made two statements above. Being a parent is a lifetime job, and a parent's job never ends. Both are true. Bringing a child into the world is a tremendous responsibility. One which most takes seriously. Sadly, there are many that do not. Many children come from drug-addicted parents who leave them alone for hours, even days.
As a paramedic, I once responded to a call for a baby that would not stop crying. After many hours, someone in the same building called 911. Upon arrival and gaining access into the apartment, I found many items of drug paraphernalia lying around and two babies still in diapers. They were eating the feces in their diaper. As it turned out, the mother had an addiction problem and was known for leaving her children alone for long periods. Of course, we took all the necessary steps to report this and care for the children. Subsequently, the mother was found, arrested, and the children taken away from her and placed in foster care.
The question is this. If the mother was known for this, why did she even have custody of these children? That answer is simple. NO ONE WANTS TO GET INVOLVED. No one previously reported it. To some extent, I can understand it, even though I do not agree with those choices. People are afraid for their safety. However, if no one ever gets involved, children could die, and things will never change. I have been on these types of calls for children of all ages. I've been called to check out 6, 7, and 8-year-olds found walking the streets at night with no clothes on.
Do you think that does not have an effect on these children that could follow them into their teenage years and older? If you don't, you are greatly mistaken. This can lead to these kids growing up on the streets and learning how to survive. They don't go to school, skip school, get a poor, at best, education, and often turn to a life of crime. A young adult is very impressed when the local drug dealer pulls out a roll of money and doesn't have to go to work at a regular job to earn it. Younger children and teenagers are the easiest targets for these drug dealers.
Not only is this a source that can lead to mental illness, but it is also a time in their life where it starts. They learn anger and violence. In their eyes, that is normal. A way of life. Another source is broken homes and neglect. I am NOT saying that two people should live together if they can't get along only for the children's sake. In reality, that is even worse. It's worse because the children do not experience a normal, loving, and sharing family environment. With that said, many couples stay together because neither can survive on their own financially. However, that is no excuse for neglecting your children or using them as a tool against one another, and that happens quite often. This oftentimes leads to child abuse. Mentally, verbally, and physically.
That does not have to be the case. Unfortunately, there are deadbeat fathers and mothers as well. I raised three children. I was divorced when they were in their pre-teenage years. However, my wife and I were instrumental in their lives through and after the process. To this very day, my children have grown into wonderful adults. Own their own homes, and have their families. I still speak to them regularly to see how things are going or if they need to talk about anything. Remember I said you are a parent for life, and it's a lifelong job. My children were NEVER exposed to any disagreements my wife at the time ever had. We split up, agreed on what was best for the children, and followed through. Both of us were instrumental parts of their lives. Our family stayed close because she and I acted like adults.
I have responded to calls for a sick child to find a babysitter there. I was often told, "Oh, I'm here every other weekend when their father has the kids so he could go out." Is that the right thing to do as a parent? Raising a child is no easy task. It takes a great deal of understanding and patience. What this leads to is a child or children thinking their parents do not care about them. They feel rejected. Without proper guidance, they will find who will accept them, which can lead to many emotional problems.
Some mental illnesses are genetic, meaning they can be passed down to the children from a parent who suffers from the same illness. One example might be bipolar disease. Often the parents are n a state of denial when they see what they think is abnormal behavior from a child. They do not want to think their child isn't normal or have passed on their illness to their child. Well, get over yourself and get the child some help. Many mental illnesses can be successfully treated with a combination of medication and counseling, and the children grow up to lead normal and fruitful lives. The key is not to run from it.
I often had to respond to check out a high school or pre-high school child because they acted out in a classroom and became violent. Of course, they are taken to the hospital for a physiological exam. Sometimes a child just gets mad for some reason, and sometimes, there is a deeper problem. However, the one common phrase I always hear when speaking to parents is, "MY SON/DAUGHTER WOULD NEVER DO THAT." Well, wake-up call, guess what? They did. Parents, as they should be, are naturally protective of their children. However, when that protection turns into ignorance and denial, you water the seed that will not produce the best plant.
The one thing most parents know is their children. All children will act out from time to time. If you don't let them get that toy they want in the store, or you have to ground them for some reason. There is a normal degree of acting out, and then there is an abnormal degree of acting out. Acting out for no reason or out of nowhere is not normal. That is a red flag that something is bothering them. As a parent, you should never ignore what is not normal for your child. If you can't get to the bottom of it, get them to someone who can.
Often children will not tell their parents what is bothering them. They will tell a friend or parents of a friend first. Someone who does not represent the authority that their parents do. In the recent mass shootings done by youthful offenders, most times, there were Facebook posts or something that their friends or someone saw or was told. Imagine how many lives could have been saved if someone got involved and said something. There is an honor among young people that they won't "rat" out their friends. Or, they simply don't care or want to get involved.
But it all starts at home. Parents need to be AWARE of their children. Sudden changes in their behavior, the music they listen to, the way they dress, or the friends they hang out with. How they act or respond changes. Prevention is the key to finding a solution. Parental denial is the biggest culprit. The family doesn't want their friends or people in the neighborhood to know something is wrong. They are embarrassed and ashamed. Therefore, they ignore it. Well, one day, when your child makes the news, you can't ignore it then. You tell me what is worse.
There are many types of mental disorders that are caused during the development of the child. It is not genetic; it is not a family issue but a medical one. A chemical imbalance in their brain or deeper medical problems. These occur during fetal development and may not be noticed immediately. They often manifest as the child begins to grow.
Others may manifest later in life. Regardless of what or why, awareness is key, and seeking help is paramount. There are some conditions that worsen to the point that some individuals cannot live in society. They live in a home where they can be medicated, monitored properly, and cared for. However, without honesty and removing the parental denial portion of the equation, these folks usually do not get help until they have already caused harm to themselves or others.
A normal child will not tell their family he or she will kill them all. That's a red flag. There are cases of families who fear their child so much they just give in to their every demand not to cause a problem. The fact is, they are causing a larger problem. The Fourth of July rooftop shooting in Highland Park is a perfect example of parental neglect. A few years back, this individual told his family he wanted to kill them all, tried to commit suicide, and his father sponsored him to get a gun. What is wrong with that picture?
In my opinion, his father is equally responsible as the shooter himself. Not to mention that the system over the years failed. For years the system has been overwhelmed with troubled children. Whenever any system is overloaded, things will slip through the cracks. It is a shame that it comes down to dollars and cents. What a city can afford to do and what it can not afford to do.
Over my career, I have taken thousands of alcoholics and drug-addicted individuals for 30, 60, or 90 programs to beat their habits. When they are released, they are clean. Where do they go? RIGHT BACK TO THE ENVIRONMENT THAT PUT THEM THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE. Now, if that isn't a recipe for failure, nothing is. There are not enough post-rehab programs available for those that are released. Then we wonder why they go back to drinking to doing drugs?
This brings us to one last topic I mentioned. How do we deal with it?
TO FIX ANY PROBLEM YOU HAVE TO FIX IT AT THE SOURCE
In today's society, all we do is put bandaids on things. That DOES NOT fix the problem. I am sure many of you can remember back when you were growing up, in high school, or in college, active shooter events did not happen WHY? Clearly, something went wrong along the way. At times we need to get back to basics. Times were different then. The pressures of living and servicing financially were not as great as they are today. Parents had more time to spend with their children. Stores were closed on Sundays and holidays. Now on Thanksgiving, many rush dinner to be done and get out by six PM to get to the store for the early Black Friday specials. In the average family, parents are working 1 1/2 jobs per household. Laws were tougher on drug dealers and other offenders. That changed when so many were sent to prison. Synthetic drugs such as Fentanyl and others are pouring into this country like water through our now open borders.
Yes, we never had a wall back then, but we didn't need it because if someone was caught, the consequences were high. Now we let over two million unvetted people into our country and ship them all over the states. We have no idea who they are, and only very few terrorists or gang members are caught as compared to what is probably slipping by. Not to mention other things like illegal firearms and such. It is apparent to me that the society that we have become is NOT working. It is a failure on a grand scale.
Is ripping it all down, starting from scratch, and returning to days of ole' a reality or even a possibility? Of course, not. However, Strengthen the border. Do it right. Come into the country properly. Start prosecuting criminals the way they should be prosecuted. Not catch and release or no bail. We lost the; "IF YOU DO THE CRIME, YOU HAVE TO DO THE TIME" mentality. Make the consequences of one's actions, depending on the crime, so severe that someone will think twice before committing a crime.
Educate our parents better and stop making them feel ashamed or that they are doing something wrong if they need help. Fix our broken social service areas to have enough social workers and resources to actually help people. In other words, start investing in our society. It's the only one we have; things are certainly NOT getting better if we don't change how we handle things and are only trending downward and worsening. Remember, every problem can only be fixed by fixing the source. If you do not fix the source, the problem never goes away and only escalates.
Here is a good article to read to see how things have digressed over 20 years. FBI REPORT.
If this post hasn't opened some eyes, nothing will. The purpose of this post was to provide AWARENESS. The key to prevention is AWARENESS. If we are not aware, we cannot prevent it. I know it sounds bleak, but the reality is, that this is a small percentage compared to the number of people, parents, and children in our nation. However, what happens as this percentage grows, and trust me, it will.
I started as a pre-hospital professional in the late 1980s and as a paramedic in the early 90s. I ended my career in pre-hospital medicine in 2016. That is a lot of years serving the public. I have said this many times. In my career, I cared for 76,251 people. That's a large number. I know what I have seen on the streets and how worse it has become over those years. I still have friends that work the streets, and it has gotten even worse over the passed six years since I stopped working the streets. Suicides, drug overdoses, young people dying, shootings, active shooters, terrorist attacks, and more have been rising each year and are continuing to climb.
Ask yourself this. At this rate, many of you, or most of you, will be alive in ten years. What will it be like then? We went from when you didn't have to lock your front door decades back to a time when your home is secured better than Fort Knox. Where are we going, and where is it heading? Our present administration is doing very little, at best, and saying "very little" is giving them more credit than they deserve to fix these problems.
What can we do? In November, we can vote for the people we believe will fix these problems or at least get a good start. As citizens of this country, voting is our only real power. Therefore, this November, get out and vote, and choose wisely.
Stay safe, be happy, and be well,
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