Monday, May 14, 2018

May is Mental health month; "The Silly Bus"

Image result for mental health awareness
Source

Lift your chin. Square your shoulders.  Pull it together.  Nothing is wrong with you.  Work harder. Get over it. Go to church. Or, at least, keep it to yourself.

A community like mine was where there were no secrets and lots of gossip.  Whatever one said or did was under scrutiny, where it merited truth or concern or not.  It was the Midwest, after all, where values and commitment mattered more than any personal failure or need. 

What about those who could not lift a chin? Square shoulders? Pull it together?

I will tell you, since I know. 

Those people were given a fair amount of criticism and reprimands. Everyone has problems, everyone has suffered losses, but they deal with it in the Midwest way. The stigma of a mental illness reflects on the family, after all.  

I remember the very day when I was visiting home, we all were sharing a breakfast and a scheduled bus went up the road to the county seat.  Dad smirked, "There goes the silly bus."

Silly bus? These were people who had developmental problems which required extra services.  These were people who suffered mental problems and couldn't deal with life in general.

When questioned, Dad said, "In my day, they didn't need all that. They were taken care of at home. Those others, well, they should just get out there and work. Just work it out. Don't need help."

Didn't he know? Didn't he see me?  Didn't he see himself?

I have struggled through chronic depression all my life.  My "sadness" was deep. It has taken years of therapy, assisted by anti-depressants, to reach a steadiness. God gave me what I needed and put me in a place where I could reach it.

Dad? His father died when Dad was 9 years old and suicide was always on his horizon.  World War 11 pushed that into PTSD and opened a floodgate of his own depression. When he went into a spiral, we all felt its effects, God help us.

One day, many years after sitting at breakfast, my sister was home. Dad mentioned the silly bus, and my sister replied, "Dad, my son (with autism) would be on that bus." He never said that again.

But then again, autism and many others in the realm of developmental issues was not dealt with in Dad's era. My parents asked me (a teacher) if this couldn't just be whipped/beat/spanked out of him. I spent the next hours explaining exactly what children and adults experience with autism and what is known or theorized about it.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  May 11-17 has been selected as Mental Health Awareness week. Never before has mental health been recognized as so important, impacting society in ways never imagined. 

October is Depression Awareness Month. The first full week of October is Depression Awareness week. Never before has Depression been recognized and diagnosed as a silent struggle so many experience and suffer. 

April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day. 


Lift your chin. Square your shoulders.  Pull it all together.  Nothing is wrong with you.  Work harder. Get over it. Go to church. Or, at least, keep it to yourself.

This post is dedicated to those who relate or can relate to what is written here.








33 comments:

  1. If only every month, and every day, was devoted to improving mental health services.
    If someone has a broken leg, or a chronic illness no-one says 'hop to it'.
    Not only do I wrestle with depression myself, I live with someone who suffers badly. And my voluntary work on the crisis line brings me in contact with many more. Small steps in the right direction are being made. Giant strides are needed.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm one of those who cannot relate, being a happy person in general, but I do understand or at least try to and I am tolerant, I hope. I went through a few months of depression last year when my cat Angel was stolen from my front yard; it was hard and I feel very sorry for those who live with that all the time. I know there is help available, but not everyone gets that help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is that sense "I can handle this" or I can hide this.

      Delete
  3. The good thing is that mental health is being talked about today and is not the stigma that it once was. Depression is not a weakness but an illness that can be treated. I have dealt with the bear and do my best to not go down that road again. It is not easy, especially in this phase of my life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dealt with the bear...not go down that road again.

      I can see how this phase of my own life makes the boat rock.

      Delete
  4. Some people, as with anything, are fakers, looking for attention and such, and ruin it for those that really need help. That helps create the stigma or less awareness. But yeah, it's surely not going to be "fixed" or what have you with square shoulders. Seen it first hand, a spiralling it can go when dealt with that way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pride is part of this. Stiff upper lip sort of thing.

      Delete
  5. I think it's grown worse over the years, which is why we need to recognize it and deal with it. Help those who need it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Societal problems, broken families, drugs and alcohol abuse (self medicating)--so many factors.

      Delete
  6. I have a sneaking suspicion that all of us struggle at one time or another...I know I have..I can't imagine how hideous it must be to struggle on a daily basis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Imagine how it is to wake up every day and feel that darkness come over you. That is how it is.

      Delete
  7. Dear Susan, thank you for your honesty. We can, I believe, all be grateful that our culture/society is finally moving forward in its recognition that all of us at some time in our lives may need help with issues that overwhelm us. Some children are born with these issues; others of us experience them as life deals with us in harsh ways. But all of us need to be One in the graciousness of our response to others and to ourselves. thank you again. Peace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You wrote this so well, esp. "...as life deals with us in harsh ways".

      Delete
  8. Hi Susan - thanks for this ... this is why I like blogging - we learn so much. I'm lucky I don't suffer, but can get down at times - yet see members of my family and friends, who suffered or do suffer, struggle - despite the help they might have had, or did have, or do have ... I empathise when I can and know that I need to be there for friends and family ... we never know what is going on behind the face we see - cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "we never know what is going on behind the face we see" Oh this is the absolute message. Some people have the worst or the best poker faces. Being present, recognize suffering , and then to assist when needed is a gift.

      Delete
  9. It's easy to dismiss that which you do not experience. Having been in the classes serviced by the "silly bus", I've seen these people first hand. Empathy and understanding are what they need. What we all need.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very well said, Liz. I can see their faces even now, some 30 years later.

      Delete
  10. Extend a hand to those in need which is why I'm fundraising for the National Rehabilitation hospital. Sooner or later everyone ends up with a disability.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As more people can and are diagnosed, the more proactive society can be.

      Delete
  11. Sadly, you are right, Susan. This was definitely the way many from our parents' generation, especially if they resided in the Midwest, responded.
    Hugs

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now my generation have learned how this can change. Our children and theirs can see future changes.

      Delete
  12. I am Susan's sister. That attitude was reflective of the times and the area. Dad called me a week later. He was sobbing and he appologized for what he had said. He never meant to hurt. I held no grudge and loved him for his courage to call me. My son is now a wonderful adult and few people would know that he has disabilities.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't know that he had responded with such tenderness. This took real courage indeed.

      My nephew has a college degree, is respected in his job. My sister is amazing.

      Delete
  13. Hi Susan,
    Hope your weekend is productive and filled with sunshine and joy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Photos of our new gr-son with his parents makes this wkend super.

      Delete
  14. From one who rides proudly on the silly bus, thank you for this heartfelt, thought provoking post. Awareness is the first step to destroying the stigma surrounding mental illness forever. Seeing the world through eyes that see life in a different way than most people see it, has been both a frustrating uphill battle mixed with moments of exhilarating freedom and perfect clarity. From where I sit and from what I’ve experienced, being normal is highly overrated and often times bears the stigma of being judgmental and narrow minded.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. God bless you and keep you! Life is never on a straight easy road.

      Delete
  15. Quite interesting and nice topic chosen for the post Nice Post keep it up.Excellent post.I want to thank you for this informative post.I really appreciate sharing this great post. Keep up your work.Thanks for sharing this great article.Great information thanks a lot for the detailed article.
    mental health month

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So thrilled you enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  16. It's so easy to be dismissive of things we don't personally experience, or don't want to acknowledge that we struggle with. Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Very nice post really ! I apperciate your blog Thanks for sharing,keep sharing more blogs.

    ดูหนังออนไลน์

    ReplyDelete

Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!