Damaged People are Dangerous, They Know They Can Survive.

Firstly, thanks for your comments once again. The number of them seems to be going down, but I don't take that as any measure of my popularity. I'm just glad that some of you are taking the time to read my blog. And maybe I just have to write more interesting ones!
Anyway, having worked some time now (voluntarily) for MAGMH, I would just like to comment on some of the outlandish opinions one comes into contact with when having to deal with the prejudice that surrounds mental ill health.
Most recently we have been writing letters in response to the building of a new psychiatric hospital in Cobridge. In the end, I had to write a letter about the residents' responses to this, simply because they were so prejudiced and ignorant.
To use a few examples, one resident said, "I'm not happy. It would be a dumping ground. People would be wandering the streets." Another said, "I think it's a good idea to put it (the building) to use, but if its people with menatl health problems, that's different. Then I would be against it." And another, "What concerns me is what problems these people have. It sounds horrible but I have to think about my children".
Needless to say I had to write a letter to combat these outlandish views, stating that why should those who suffer from mental ill health be so derided and feared. Indeed, I had to point out that there was no link between mental health problems such as depression and schizophrenia and sex offending. Because, just think about it, why else would residents feel their children would need to be protected against psychiatric patients?
This war against prejudice, therefore, seems to be an uphill battle. Just as you are innnocently sitting down, watching TV and eating your tea, something seems to come along which is so far removed from the reality of mental ill health that it is mind blowing.
And then, it seemed to happen again. I had stated in my letter that those who suffer from mental distress could be "valuable and productive members of the community". So, from out of left field, another letter was written suggesting that "to return people to society...is really very cruel- until society can change". I have written a letter in response to this to try to point out the sophistry of this argument.
And then I got to thinking. Far from being such victims, perhaps we have been through things and experiences which have made us strong. When you've been to the nadir, there seems to be only one way to go. Wasn't it Richard Nixon, strangely enough, who said that only when you've been to the lowest valley can you know how wonderful it is to be at the highest peak. Indeed, I believe that anyone who has had a mental health problem and lived to survive the tale is a strong person. Just like the heroin addict who gives up, or the beaten housewife who leaves, we are strong people. And as the Friedrich Nietszche maxim goes, "whatever doesn't kill you makes you strong". Indeed, we might even seem too strong for some people, no longer bothered by the ephemera or trivialities of what makes up so much of life. Maybe this is what truly scares people.
So, perhaps, the public have got this all wrong. We are not victims. We are not dangerous because we are a threat to children or the elderly. We are not dangerous because of an increased propensity towards violence. Rather,to quote from a famous film and book,and hopefully without offence- damaged people are dangerous because they know they can survive.

Comments

Domenica said…
Dear David,

I agree wholeheartedly with what you have said in your most recent post.
I also saw the letter you refered to, and came to a similar conclusion,i.e. that it portrays those of us who have experienced mental ill-health as victims, I have very strong feelings with regard to this, because of course we are not victims, on the contrary, precisely because of our experiences we have become very strong and resilient indeed!(a case of sink or swim!)
And a great number of us chose to swim!
We have acquired an inner-strength that is to be admired not feared!

In answer to "until society can change" we all make up our society, and so it is up to us to be the change that we wish to see!
We cannot change society, but we can change ourselves, which would eventually manifest itself into a 'changed society'
Thankyou for writing this post David, you write with passion and eloquence,long may you continue doing so. My very best wishes to you.....D Xx
Domenica said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
purkul said…
hya dave,

sorry i ain't been on 4 so long, i've been so busy of late i havn't hardly been on the computer at all!

i so feel your love 4 johnny cash! his version of hurt is so so moving!

your so right in what you've spoken about in your latest post. & i also agree with what domenica has said 2, we have got to be the change we want to see! then hopefully we can then lead by example, which you certainly are dave! top stuff!

hope your doing well.

take care

nat
x
Radioman said…
Hi David,

Good to see your comments and your contributions to the Sentinel.

We sadly live in a world of mixed messages, a scandal-hungry media and, sadly with a lot of people, passed-on ignorance and preconceptions.

Hopefully our blogs help break down barriers and enable people to realise what mental health really is.

If people speak to me about it with an air of negativity, I just say the little words "one in four" - then they suddenly realise they too know someone who has or is suffering with their mental health - and ends the conversation or breaks the ice.

Leigh....
Jack said…
Hello David, we are strong. We have all come through bad experiences. It is true what does not kill you makes you strong. The people opposing the new home should realise that the patients who will be their at the hospital will just be trying to rebuld there lives. We wish them well.
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