Lobotomies. The pick behind the eye. Prefrontal lobe. Severing a nerve, or nerves.
Hydrotherapy. Water works. Chained to a wall crucifixion style. Blasted with a fire hose. Wrapped in ice cold towels and only released to go to the bathroom.
Insulin-Coma Therapy. Injected with large doses of insulin. Daily, for a week.
Chemically Induced Seizures. Shot up. Side effects – fractured bones and memory loss.
The mentally ill have endured all of these torturous treatments in the past.
I would say life is good now, so many drugs to try and alleviate the symptoms, but why then do most city streets have people talking to the voices only their minds can hear? Why are our prisons full of people who need treatment instead of bars? Why since the nineteen eighties are state hospitals abandoned and decaying all across the country, when at the very same time, you can’t find an open bed for a person experiencing delusions or suicidal ideation?
My bed is soft. My shower is warm. My food is fresh. My clothes are clean. My medication is paid for.
I should be silent, and count my blessings. I’m not locked up. I’m not on the street. I’m not being treated by painful and scary methods. I’m among the middle class. I have a condo and a car.
But my heart and mind cry out to people who ride in one of the same boats as me. The name of that boat is schizophrenia, and we sail across mighty waves. We are rocked by turbulent storms. We take in water. We pan it out with a ladle meant for soup.
Soup? My husband makes soup for the homeless every Friday morning. Some of them are on that boat, and don’t deserve to be. If it were cancer, the name of their boat, someone would step in. They would get some form of treatment. A church might rally, a Kickstarter campaign may go up. Someone would do something.
But damn those pesky people who see things that aren’t there. Who have conversations with the spirit world, or who yell and wave their arms frantically warding off some form of danger only they are aware of.
But it is dangerous to treat the vulnerable so badly. Not to give them a bed in a hospital. Not to provide them with a clean robe, or a shower. Because today it is them, and tomorrow it is you. Dehumanization spreads like a disease that kills sympathy, and when sympathy dies my friend, your safety along with everyone else’s goes with it.
Care now, or pay later. It becomes personal when you are the vulnerable and society looks away. Get in the boat and paddle those who need it to shore. Throw them a lifejacket. Prepare a place for them to call home.
Our survival depends upon it.