It’s important to remember that a person goes to–or is taken to–a hospital when they are not in their right mind.
For me, I feared for my life.
I had a plan to kill myself.
For other people, it could be psychosis or mania that leads to a hospital stay, like my family member is dealing with now.
What’s key is that there is a break.
From the typical meaning that holds it all together.
Going to the hospital for mental illness is not failure.
So why does society see it that way?
I think there are a number of reasons for this.
One, we’re scared of what we don’t understand, and diseases like bipolar and schizophrenia top the list.
It’s easier to say, “Ok, go away over there where I can’t see you,” than, “What’s going on here? What must this person currently believe to be acting this way?”
One of the best questions I ask myself is:
“What would need to be true for this person to act the way he acts and believe in the things he believes?”
This is a question that can apply to all kinds of situations, not just ones related to mental health.
A second big reason society doesn’t like talking about mental health and hospitals is because, deep down, we all know that we could end up that way.
Mental illness and mental health fall on a spectrum.
If you go back to the what-would-need-to-be-true question, couldn’t there be scenarios that cause you to break from reality? That make you question everything you knew and go down a different path?
This is going to be a bit risky to say, but mental health and mental illness are, in many ways, social constructions. They’re a bit made-up.
Of course, we have diagnoses to help doctors and other clinicians identify illnesses, but there were completely bogus diagnoses in these diagnostic books mere decades ago.
There were diagnoses that targeted certain groups of people as ill just because we didn’t understand enough about their lifestyle.
How wrong is that?
If doctors can make the mistake to mislabel and mistreat based on lack of knowledge and fear, what hope is there for the rest of us?
A lot, actually.