Walls of Shame and Silence: Mental Illness in loved ones

This article was published in the local newspaper in Cobb County, The Bright Side’s February 18th issue. )

This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him.

-Mark 5:3-4

Mental Illness is the leading cause of disability in the nation today. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, on in five adults with have an episode of a major mental illness in their lifetime. This means that all of us will have an experience with Mental Illness directly or with someone we know. And yet, Mental Illness is still misunderstood and shunned.

Mental Illness is misunderstood at a character defect in a way unlike most physical illnesses. Even behavior related illnesses, such as cancer from smoking, receive less scorn, than the person disabled through major depression, or the shame after an out of control episode of mania. Added to the shame, people with mental illness often have behaviors which exhaust their family members. Burnt out and ashamed, families struggle to help their loved ones, feeling they are alone with the problem. The very group most critical for recovery are the most burdened and most at risk of burn out.

If we go back to our statistics, one in five adults are affected over their lifetimes. This means families touched by mental illness are not alone, they are disconnected from others in the same situation. Families are left with no energy to breach the walls of shame and silence. If you know someone struggling with mental illness, chances are their loved ones are as well. I encourage you to help support these individuals and let them know they are not alone.

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) is an organization of people suffering from mental illness and family members. It is a great resource for support.

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Vanessa Trump taken to hospital as precaution after suspicious letter sent to her home


President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law was taken to a Manhattan hospital as a precaution on Monday after a suspicious letter containing an unidentified substance was sent to her apartment, senior law enforcement and city officials told NBC News.

The letter was addressed to Vanessa Trump’s husband, Donald Trump Jr., the eldest child of the president and his ex-wife Ivana.

And so it begins?

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TOTD 01-17-2018: How Finding People Just Like Me Online is Killing Our Discourse Through a new Tribalism.

I don’t like chocolate. I have not since I was a child. As today is my birthday, this is topical. See, people cannot believe I don’t like it. I get to say things like:

  • “Am I allergic? No, I don’t like the taste”.
  • “Yes, I know you cannot believe it”.
  • “Yah, I get how much you love it”.
  • “Yes, it is pretty weird”.

I am very much forced onto the defensive. And for what? Because the tiny part of my brain that controls tastes does not like it. Now that is a food item, and I get weird looks. Imagine when someone does not agree with your tastes in art, movies, or even political figures.

Actually, sticking with eating for a moment, food is a pretty big deal to tribal societies. Dietary restrictions are a big way to show your tribe is different from the heathens next door. So, food is a big way to signal acceptance. What you can eat is a way to show your wealth, and thus membership in the right tribe. In fact, much of what we eat reflects tastes we grew up with, not just our genetics.

I have come to the conclusion that we live in an age when it is too easy to find people who agree with us. Thanks to the modern communications network, not only can I find fellow travelers, I can find people who agree with me about almost everything. In fact, it becomes easy to build a personal tribe of faith, where anyone not checking all the boxes is an outsider and to be shunned. This natural tribalism is what I believe is driving the “If-you-don’t-like-it-then-you-are-a-bad-person” phenomenon. Star Wars is a great example. Lots of people liked the movie; lots of people hated it. If you did not like it, you are a sexist and a racist. If you did like it, you are stupid or a SJW (but I repeat myself). Neither of these are true.

Anti-Trumpism is all about taste. The anti-Tumpies, in their hearts cannot believe that someone can hold their nose and vote Trump (as much as I cannot understand 97.5% cacao dark chocolate being sold). So, since people did vote Trump, there must be something wrong with them to vote for a man of such poor character. Of course, if I were starving, I’d eat the chocolate. And I voted for Trump because it seemed (and still does) that dire. The Anti-Trumpies don’t metaphorically see they are starving. Of course, try to point out to them that difference, like the Ricochet “Cold Civil War” thread, and they not only reject it, they clearly think if you or I feel that way, well, we are just bad people.

See how easy this all is? Left and Right, my Tribe is right and holy, because we eat the right food and think the right thoughts. Everyone else is less than human. It has taken the 21st Century to allow tribes to reform in this way in Western Civilization. I wonder if it will undo us.

Of course, that is, if the alien’s chocolate mind-control plot does not take the world out first. Then the rest chocolate haters of us will have to save you. All three of us.

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Ban Best Friends?



Should adults “ban” Best Friends for our kids in the interest of being socially inclusive? I think this is a horrible idea, asked in this US News, Should Schools Ban Kids From Having Best Friends? Adults deciding who kids get to be friends with? That will not only breed resentment, it will reduce engagement in school. I have seen children without a best friend at school (in 6th grade I was one), and it hurt my performance in school. In 12th grade, when my then best friends and I broke up, I made it a point to find a new best friend, one whom I am still best friends with, so take that social do-gooders. Think of all the friends I “excluded” by having this one.

To look at it another way, having someone force the kids in 6th grade who did not like me to be my “friend” would have made things 100 times worse. I was already being bullied. Having teachers force apart cliques to include me would have breed resentment on their part, and guess who would have born the brunt of their ire?

Gallup has shown that having a best friend at work is one of the factors of workers being engaged at work. This question on their Q12, while the most controversial, has held up. People how have a best friend at work are more engaged with their jobs, and happier at work. It stands to reason, less emotionally mature children have at least as much need, if not more, as adults for a best friend.

Instead of trying to guide our kids number of friends or size of their social circles to fit some outcome of research on circle size, my suggestion is to let children find their way with relationships that fits their personalities and traits. Some people naturally have a limited number of deep relationships, and some people a broad circle. Trying to fit everyone into a middle of the road “best” option is working against human nature.

To quote a popular song from my youth, “Leave those kids alone!”

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