Tag Archives: mental health care

In 10 funny minutes, John Oliver explains all that’s wrong with the U.S. mental health system

Here’s one of the reasons I love John Oliver. He cuts through the bullshit and tells it like it is. Last week, there was yet another mass school shooting in the United States. This led to understandable cries of how absolutely screwed up our gun laws are, as we’ve become a country where practically any Joe Schmoe can amass an army full of weapons pretty easily on his own it he wants to. And as the NRA diabolically continues to oppose even the most common sense gun regulations — like making guns safer — they invariably dodge the issue by blaming mental illness for all the carnage. Mind you, these folks never do anything to make mental health treatment better or more accessible. They just love the idea of conveniently shifting the blame to the mentally ill.

This is so frustrating to me, because the latest mass shooter always becomes the new Face of Mental Illness. Never mind that the vast majority of people who have a mental illness never do anything even remotely close to a mass shooting. The NRA and their ilk seem to relish making scapegoats out of the mentally ill. If you developed a drinking game for every time some NRA foot soldier says “It’s not guns that kill people; it’s lunatics that kill people,” you could get soused pretty quickly.

That’s why I love this segment from John Oliver’s show, Last Week Tonight. Any of us who has experience navigating the U.S. mental health system knows what he’s talking about. The sad truth is that — even with the Affordable Care Act — it’s beyond tough just to get any kind of mental health treatment. Even if you recognize your illness and seek treatment, you often face long waiting lists, a patchwork system of laws and regulations that differ from state to state, and enough red tape to tie all your holiday presents for life. But John has a way of making sad truths hysterically funny.

So, watch this, laugh, then demand a sensible mental health plan to go along with a sensible gun control plan. We desperately need them both.


A great big thank you to all my followers!

When I started this blog a few months ago, I had a goal of attracting 100 followers by the end of the year. Today, I am very happy to report that I have reached this goal, with just over a week and a half left in the year. I set a goal, and I’ve reached it. I must not be the complete failure that my depression tells me I am.

And, just as important, I must not be alone in feeling what I am feeling. Though I try to make this blog as informative and even entertaining as I can, there’s no escaping the fact that I often bring up uneasy, uncomfortable subjects: depression, anxiety, suicide, self-harm, mental illness stigma, and all the crap that we endure, even from the “systems” designed to help us. That’s what I write about. And with topics like these, I’m never going to “break the internet” like Kim Kardashian. I thank my followers not just for following me, but for their willingness to join me on my journey.

I consider this blog as a big part of my recovery process. As a writer, I have kept journals off and on for years. But with a blog, I can’t just close a notebook, shove it in a drawer, and show it to no one. A blog goes “out there.” People see it. To me, there is something bold and exciting about that.

It’s a little frightening, too. The other day, one of my therapists (yes, I have several) asked me, “You ARE aware that people can SEE all this, right?” I answered in the affirmative. And yes, I do think that there’s a possibility that some people who may want to hire me for a job, or who might want to get to know me better, will see this blog and go “Oh boy, I better stay away from this one.”

But I’ve come to a point in my life where I’m willing to take that risk. Even better, I’ve met other bloggers who are taking the same kinds of risks. Through this blog, I have come to realize that the blogosphere really is a big new frontier when it comes to being open about mental illness. Again and again, I am reminded that I am not alone. That WE are not alone.

So again, to all my followers, thank you. I promise to continue blogging well into next year and beyond. Kim Kardashian, eat your heart out!

Surfing your way toward mental health

I heard this inspiring story on NPR this morning, about a program designed for people with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The prime element of the program involves — surfing.

Yes, surfing. Confession: the closest I’ve ever gotten to surfing is when I listen to the Beach Boys. But this innovative program makes sense. Part of it was born out of necessity. This story takes place in South Africa. And like most countries, access to mental health care is very difficult there. This is an innovative way to reach people who really need it.

Listen to the story here.