Today I want to talk about choices. Everything we do from the moment we wake up is a choice. We choose whether to make breakfast or not eat. We make a choice whether or not to brush our teeth (I suggest you do), put on underarm deodorant (please), and to get dressed (might want to to that before you go outside and get the morning paper). We have choices about going to work, cleaning house, or whatever your responsibilities may be. Now, some people say that going to work is not a choice, but that simply isn't true. Will you loose money or possibly get fired if you do not show up? Yes, you might but it is your choice to go. I am not saying that there isn't dire consequences if you do not do your responsibilities, I am simply saying it is a choice to do them.
I read a story the other day that in rural Bali There is a issue with mental illness. Not really a surprise because there is an issue with mental illness everywhere. What I am talking about is the fact that many families take the mentally ill person and chain them. Literally, chain them and place them in shacks. Dirty, disheveled, scared and living in their own waste. Many of these families believe that mental illness is a curse and demons of the soul.
It saddens me that the monetary flow is so low that this is the way that many mentally ill are treated. It sickens me to know that any one of us could be in that position. These families have no idea how to care for mental illness nor do they have the ability to afford such care. The doctor in this article is a hero. She is doing all she can with the limited resources that she has. On behalf of the mental illness community I would like to thank Dr. Luh Ketut Suryani and all those that strive to make our lives easier and our quality of life better.
How does my earlier comment about choices tie in with the story of being chained in Bali? Simply put, we as the mentally ill are all chained in one fashion or another. Whether our chains are made of steel or made up of words and beliefs. We not only are chained by others but in many cases we chain ourselves. We do not allow ourselves to dream or hope. We are often times negative about what we think we can accomplish. We choose to accept the lies that we have been spoon fed for so long. That we are incapable of being what we would like to be or incapable of doing what we would like to do. We accept that we are what others perceive us to be and that is unacceptable. We have a better care system for the mentally ill and yet we are fairing no better than the poor souls in this article.We are allowing ourselves to be chained by a belief that we can not be accepted and are not important. It makes no difference if the chains are invisible to the naked eye, they are there and they hold us back. The difference between us and those chained in Bali is that we can choose to break our chains. We can break the chains that bind us. We can choose not to accept the notion that we are unworthy. We can choose to not accept stigma and snide comments. We can choose to believe that we are more than we thought we could be. Because we are more than we thought we could be. We can choose to dream and hope.
I am not sure how we can help those in Bali. I am not even sure how to help the overwhelming issues that are flung at the mental illness community. What I am sure of is that by standing up and being open and honest a tiny piece of stigma will fall away. I am sure that every time we are faced with adversity and discrimination and we stand up for ourselves more stigma falls to the way side. We will not convince everyone but we will convince ourselves and as we do so, we will chip at the stigma piece by piece until nothing is left. By standing up for ourselves we are standing up for those like the mentally ill in Bali. We can change the world but we have to make a choice to do so. [tweet this].
We have to choose. Do we choose to defy stigma today as we get ready to go to lunch? Do we choose to to chip away at stigma tomorrow as we sit at the dinner table with friends? Do we choose to break away the chains that bind us as we hear negative comments about the mentally ill? I don't know about you but I choose to stand up. I choose to fight not just for myself but also those that are not in the position to do so. I choose to break the chains that have held me down and held me back for so long. I choose to be free. I choose to have dreams and hope and I hope that you will choose to do the same.