Still Talking but Not Walking?
By: Beth McHugh 2006
Remember Ann and her “friend” Julie from Do you Talk the Talk but not Walk the Walk? Julie had upset Ann terribly because she had promised to take Ann, who suffered from an anxiety disorder, to the doctors. Although Ann had given Julie seven weeks notice, Julie reneged on her promise just days before and left Ann not only in the lurch, but extremely upset.
But I have some good news about Ann. She was determined that she wouldn’t allow Julie to prevent her from getting to the doctor’s, even though initially she had no idea who she could get to accompany her at such short notice. Luckily, she mentioned what had happened to her to a casual acquaintance who immediately offered to help Ann out in any way she could.
Ann had to explain to this acquaintance why she found traveling in heavy traffic so difficult, what a panic attack felt like and how best to deal with one. This lovely lady was understanding and caring, and to make a long story short, Ann had a successful trip to the doctor’s with minimal anxiety.
This story shows how just a little love and caring can make a world of difference in the life of a mentally ill person. It also demonstrates how acts of ignorance and uncaring can increase the level of pain and distress that someone like Ann and millions of others experience on a daily basis.
It is sadly not unusual for sufferers of mental illness to report that the treatment they receive off family and friends, and often the medical fraternity itself, is worse than their illness or the trauma that caused their illness in the first place.
This is a very powerful statement and a sad indictment on society’s treatment of the mentally ill. This phenomenon goes right across the board and is reported by people suffering from relatively minor (yet painful) “nervous breakdowns” right through to those suffering more serious conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Are we a genuinely uncaring society or are we fearful that we will somehow succumb to these illnesses ourselves? Ignorance about mental health shows a lack of caring by both individuals and government. Yet, the very act of caring fosters recovery. What Julie did to Ann caused additional and needless pain and suffering, accompanied by an increased lack of self worth. No person needs this in their lives, especially a person who is struggling on a daily basis just to get through the day and accomplish those activities that most of us take for granted.
But there is some good news about Ann: see just how she dealt with the problem of Julie.