First off, I’m not a salesman nor pitchman for therapy.
I don’t do public relations for the American Psychiatric Association – although I could do a great job - nor am I a pharmaceutical sales representative.
In fact, I’ve never been in therapy, although I have had some quite enlightening chats with therapists through my work as a journalist. In this regard, I have indeed been able to ask them some pointed questions regarding “stories” that I’ve covered and I’ve enjoyed the luxury of applying some of their observations, if you will, to my own life.
Here’s an example ...
Many years ago, I hosted an awards ceremony thing for the Buffalo Psychiatric Association or it may have been the Western New York Psychiatric Society. I don’t recall the name of the organization, but it was for mental health professionals. They invited me to host the event, so I went. I’m pretty sure that apart from their spouses, I was the only one there who was not a psychiatrist. Needless to say, I relished the moment.
Anyway, during dinner, one of the doctors at my table asked me …
“So Mike, What’s going on in the news world today?”
Knowing full well that this was my moment to perhaps get some free insight into a personal practice I’d adopted, I responded by only half-jokingly saying …
“You know, when I’m on my days off, I really don’t watch the news or pay much attention to it. I do it for my mental health!”
Immediately after saying that, all of the psychiatrists at my table silently responded by affirmatively nodding their heads.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Little did they know, they’d given me my own personal session, we got it done in like 30 seconds and it was free of charge.
Okay … now that we’ve established that, let’s move on to the issue at hand …
It feels like something questionable is either in the air we’re breathing or the water we’ve been drinking. Perhaps it’s the fact that we’re continuing to identify and name so many ailments that seem to come complete with medications to treat them. Notice I said, “treat,” but not cure them.
Shouldn’t we be aiming to cure rather than merely treat problems? Of course, but I’ll save that one for another day.
Here’s the deal …
Is it me or is it practically impossible to make it through the week without hearing about someone doing something so wacky and off the wall that you question not only their sanity, but the mental stability of the people around them? You know, the people who you would think would help them, but instead, they stand around and watch … as if they’re enjoying a reality show.
I mean, who’s the real sick party here? Cases in point ...
How many school shootings do we have to have that involve young male culprits who so clearly have mental health issues? Young men in this country desperately need counseling and role models.
How many airplane security breaches do we have to have that involve mentally-anguished passengers who are running up and down the aisles demanding things and acting crazy while the plane is in midflight?
How many road rage cases do we have to have that involve drivers leaping out of their cars at intersections and literally getting into fist fights about God knows what with complete strangers?
How many more hit reality TV shows do we have to have until we realize that our love of these pathetic programs says more about who WE ARE and less about the mud-slinging people on these shows?
I could go on and on, but you catch my drift.
What is going on?
People are at their wit’s end these days. Everybody’s emotions seem to be just one degree below the boiling point. It’s as if people are just looking for any excuse whatsoever to just let someone or anyone HAVE IT!
You know these people when you see them. They are very much controlled by their emotions, flesh and impulses. They’re dying to pull down their pants and moon anyone at a moment’s notice.
They feel that they don’t have much control over what’s happening in their own lives and therefore, they don’t have much to lose. In short, they’ll be damned if they’re going to take … CRAP FROM YOU.
And much of the time, it’s not even crap from you. It’s their perception that you’re giving them a hard time. All you did was ask them a polite question and they’re jumping down your throat.
You know, I was just thinking …
The whole “fight or flight” stress response thing is right on the money. When people are feeling stressed or ignored or disrespected or angry or whatever, they go into fight mode or fear mode and they get jittery and do weird things.
Adrenalin takes over and people just start acting out and lashing out without even thinking, let alone considering the consequences. That moment of lashing out is usually the final straw. This emotion has been building for quite some time and now is the moment when they …
Problem is, lots of innocent people often get hurt. People were going about their own business, dealing with their own challenges and problems and trying to figure out how to keep their own heads together and little did they know, they’re suddenly victims in some violent attack.
In short, the world needs therapy. That means everyone.
It seems to me that we need to start having some tough and long conversations about mental health. We definitely need to get our individual and collective emotional houses in order. We have got to start admitting that we’ve got a big problem here.
PEOPLE ARE LOSING THEIR MINDS.
Our mental health community is overworked, overstressed and way underpaid. Our police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians are also overworked, overstressed and underpaid. With all due respect, many of them can also use therapy for always being on the frontlines and witnessing the often ugly underbelly of humanity.
Our social workers, court-appointed attorneys and court system itself are overworked, overstressed and underpaid. They need help.
Therapists themselves could use some therapy. How on earth can you bring your best self to anyone when you’re feeling crushed beneath a non-ending caseload of pathology?
Not too long ago, I was among a group of people who were listening to an address given by a great therapist. I’m withholding the therapist’s name for privacy sake, but here’s what the professional asked us …
“Wanna know how I can save you $250.00 an hour in therapy bills?”
Our ears perked up as the therapist quickly added … and I quote …
“CUT THE BULLSHIT!”
I wanted to fall out of my chair laughing. There’s nothing like a good dose of the truth delivered like a tablespoon full of cod liver oil to put everyone on red alert.
Like never before, we’re living during a time when it seems everyone is bringing their emotional baggage into the public domain.
In a way, this is a good thing because it’s better to air things out rather than let them simmer. However, the problem is we’re not dealing with our “bullshit” in appropriate ways. We’re leaving it at the door for someone else to clean up.
We’re even seeing this on the world stage now. Look at how some of the leaders of nations are now talking to one another. They’re actually talking AT one another, pointing fingers and hurling insults.
What ever happened to diplomacy?
Doesn’t it feel like fight or flight is moving us thisclose to another military conflict somewhere in the world?
Of course, it would be ridiculously easy to single out a particular leader. However, everybody has their fingers in this stewpot. No one has clean hands.
Not too long ago, I was chatting with a colleague who suffers from bipolar disorder. She told me that she takes medication to help treat her manic highs and depressive lows. I actually felt quite honored as I listened to her share her daily struggles.
She spoke without a trace of shame or reservation about her illness. Fantastic. We need more honest dialogue. But the part that really struck me was when she mentioned her kids and how she thinks her son may eventually be diagnosed.
She said she’s seeing some disturbing signs and she’s worried because he just hit school age and she’s not sure how things will work. She added that she’s very concerned for her kids because, as she put it …
“The world is only getting worse.”
And there you have it. This world, with all of its glorious moments and wonders, is a sick bird.
This world fell a long time ago and it can’t get up.
Things have gotten so political and we’ve drifted so far away from what God originally intended for us that we’re literally losing our minds … and we’re wondering why.
Anguish is everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you go. It’s inescapable and it’s the state of man … white, black, brown, tan, yellow or red. It seems mental anguish is the great equalizer.
Do you think the world is getting worse? Even if you don’t, surely you would agree that after all is said and done …
This world could sure use some therapy.