Monday, January 10, 2022

Open Letter to Mental Illness

 


Excerpt from And No One Saw It Coming by Marci Glidden Savage

TO: MENTAL ILLNESS

You are a formidable and treasonous opponent. You hide in plain sight because you are a master at disguises. That’s your Ace in the hole— your secret weapon of war.

Shhh, don’t tell. Your power depends on silence.

You are politically correct, and you don’t discriminate. You’re not gender-specific. You’re not racist. You don’t lean left or right; you are independent. Age is not relevant to you; anyone at any age will do. You don’t care about social or economic status or religious affiliation. You’re an equal opportunity disease.

Shhh, don’t tell. Your power depends on silence.

You quietly hide behind the usual and customary outward behaviors. You cohabitate simultaneously with laughter, love, success, compassion, faith, commitment, trust, sincerity, honesty, and intelligence. Thus, making your identity that much harder to see.

Shhh, don’t tell. Your power depends on silence.

Your bag of tricks is endless. You amassed a multiple-symptom arsenal, so vast and so varied that most of your symptoms can be associated with other diseases. Like cancer, heart disease, ALS, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, diabetes, and the like, your peers also have multiple symptoms and can be undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. And sometimes death precedes a diagnosis, just like you.

Shhh, don’t tell. Your power depends on silence.

You are content to watch our efforts to eradicate and eliminate your peers silently. Funds easily raised, and research applauded for “real” dis- eases. Pharmaceutical companies are encouraged to produce new and experimental drugs and provide clinical trials for even the slightest chance of a cure. Treatment centers built. Slogans adapted with words like Hope and Cure and Fight. Runners garner donations for 5K and 10Ks, while crowds march. Celebrities host telethons, and musicians produce world concerts. Contributions garnered for “real diseases,” and T-shirts are worn. And those in the battle with these opponents are brave-courageous-survivors, as they should be!

Shhh, don’t tell. Your power depends on silence.

You willingly attach your name to words like crazy, deranged, insane, lunatic, and madness. Your knowledge of how cultures, societies, and the world views unusual, different, odd, or “crazy” behavior in people has given you an edge. In your game of deception, you want the world to only recognize you in “those” behaviors...in “those people”...in “those” actions.

Shhh, don’t tell. Your power depends on silence.

Day after day and night after night, you convince your victim that they must keep you a secret. You whisper, “No one will understand.” “They will think you are crazy or weak.” “You need to nut-up.”

Shhh, don’t tell. Your power depends on silence.

You disrupt sleep patterns, and you silence communication. You isolate, produce anxiety, and distort the truth. You applaud depression. You celebrate chronic worry, feelings of fear, and the “coup de grace”—hopelessness.

Shhh, don’t tell. Your power depends on silence.

You change your modus operandi often to stay at the top of your game. Patiently you lie in wait, hiding in the shadows and stealthily fly- ing under the radar. You emphasize perceived failures. You systematically slam shut every door of hope. You ebb and flow over days, weeks, months, and years.

Shhh, don’t tell. Your power depends on silence.

And when all your lies, deceitfulness, trickery, and deviousness have obliterated any hope, you release your final weapon—PAIN. Pain so severe and powerful that only agony, torment, and despair remain. Pain so intense that the love of family, friends, and life itself can’t be felt or seen. Just the pain. Only Pain. And with your final assassin’s whisper, “There is only one way to end the pain”...they’re gone. Forever.

Game over and game on. I will tell.
I won’t stop.
You can count on it.

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