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About mental illness

The failing of America

Symptoms should not be ignored. If 15% of your cells are ill, you could be seriously ill. A UK charity set up to help young people struggling with mental illness reads:

Every day people across the world get up, get dressed and go about their daily lives, completely undetected to be struggling. From the outside they look as if everything is normal…

…High-functioning mental illness is a term to describe those living with an ailment that most people don’t detect. It covers a broad spectrum; they might have a job, be studying, dress well, or even have the ‘perfect’ family lifestyle.

An article from the Canadian Mental Health Association reads,

Psychosis is often described as a “loss of reality” or a “break from reality” because it makes you experience or believe things that aren’t real. In a psychotic episode, a person loses touch with reality as other people see it. They might hear voices, see or feel things that aren’t there, feel paranoid or believe things that don’t rationally make sense.


Intense stress can cause psychosis. In this particular cause, there may be no other conditions or diseases involved. Stress can also trigger symptoms in people who are particularly at risk for psychotic disorders.

15% is how many people in America believe in something called QAnon, an outlandish and ever-evolving conspiracy theory, according to results of a poll published by the New York Times in May.

How many of those people are under intense stress derived from finances, job, health, and or family and have lost a sense of control and pride in their lives?

I’ve had to deal with members of my own family who have had psychotic episodes (unrelated to QAnon).

Once an episode has erupted, you are able to see them differently (ok, they are ill), with more compassion.

But it is very difficult to deal with them while they seem functional. The very term “episode” implies it is a passing thing, right? But even before the first one, they may have felt persecuted or believed in things that aren’t real for a long time.

You may try to deal with them logically, while a complex situation has evolved: they are affecting your life, like an elephant in a china shop, but others around them are in denial of what is going on. They feel the person is the victim and deserves every consideration, that he is causing no harm. And this may be happening while yet others are exploiting their condition.

One helpful breakthrough in my understanding was when I could glimpse that this behavior was the product of intense suffering, which in turn causes an inability to cope with reality.

When someone has decreased capacities of some sort, and is picked on constantly, when they feel diminished and that they can’t prove their worth no matter how hard they try, they may resort to paranoid delusions.

They create an alternate world where things make sense to them. It gives them a sense of control and exempts them from responsibility. To you they may seem like reckless bullies, but they feel they are simply reacting. In this case, to being an unrecognized genius.

This can happen in a family and, it seems, a country.

Quiet desperation, and deep disappointment, with their life in America or elsewhere, may lead some people to embrace a belief that their country is being run by a cabal of cannibal pedophiles, or that vaccines magnetize people and are nothing but a plot, hatched in secret to control them—or, for that matter, that drunken driving or breathing into your face with a virus is their right.

The problem with saying that these people are crazy is that it sounds intolerant. Where do you draw the line between your freedom not to like Joe Biden, or to suspect that big Pharma doesn’t have your back (I happen to believe it doesn’t)—and something crazy?

But not being able to draw the line is crazy in itself.

One need not loose compassion, but what may be lost in this debate is that America has lost its way. It has lost the leadership it had during the so called American Century, because it has lost sufficient cohesiveness within itself—and this is because the leader, at least up until recently, of the Western world, is ill.

The UK and France are doing better eliciting cooperation from the public to fight the current pandemic. There’s simply not the same degree of cohesiveness within the US. That in itself is worrisome. And in a post Trump presidency, the US is embroiled in bitter and open disputes with international allies as well—such as with France, which says the US jumped the gun and formed an alliance with Australia against China. 

China and Russia must be enjoying the spectacle.

All this while climate change, a problem that has to be tackled on a global level, is a real and present danger—and a looming disaster. Joe Biden will make one last attempt for America to lead in this regard. But will he succeed?

In a hundred years, the world may be very different and America may have been relegated to a minor role within it.

It hurts me to see that. I wish it wasn’t the case. Because I’ve enjoyed the freedoms of democracy—they created an environment where I was able to follow my heart and a guru, without being burned at the stake (although I’ve felt the heat). I appreciate a society where there are gay and other minority rights.

But at this point, something other than runaway exploitation of the environment has to emerge as the underlying principle in the world—and quickly. Capitalism and individualism, championed as something good by America once, and embraced by billions, has gotten out of hand.

I have many friends who believe the necessary healing and transformation can still happen quietly, from within society, without much more upheaval than what we’re witnessing already—and I do hope they are right!

My belief, like theirs, is that a higher consciousness is ultimately the answer—and that it is evolving and will evolve inevitably.

It may sound to some that by consciousness, I mean compassionate awareness of others—but it is deeper than that; and a topic for another time.

Mine is an optimistic view, however. Notice I mention a world in a hundred years!

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