ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Avoid Being Too Disturbed by World Events

Jack Bragen
Friday April 15, 2016 - 03:14:00 PM

Trump's and Cruz's quests for power are frightening to vulnerable people, such as poor people, seniors, and disabled people. Trump is frightening to anyone who has a shred of sensitivity and/or sensibility. If Trump or Cruz becomes President, it promises to bring the U.S. back into the 1950's, or worse, in terms of racism and other social injustices.  

Yet, this billionaire celebrity turned tyrannical politician, and Cruz, who appears creepy and who would be almost as bad as Trump, are not solely responsible for the frightening of vulnerable people. World events are upsetting.  

A massive amount of warfare is taking place across the globe, and this has been worsening since the attack on the World Trade Centers in 2001. Teens who were born at about that time have been brought up in an environment in which the mass media portrays massive violence, whether you're talking about news media sources, movies, or video games. This will affect the next generation and future generations.  

For persons with mental illness, it is a harder job today than it ever was to distinguish between fact, fantasy, or psychotic delusions. Ideations that twenty or thirty years ago would have been considered paranoid delusional have become part of mainstream thinking. How, then, are we to distinguish between someone with paranoid delusions versus a Joe off the street without any psychiatric problem?  

The only remaining way to distinguish between someone who is mentally ill and having symptoms, versus someone who is normal and absorbing mass media and social content, is through "unusual" behavior. Someone who isn't doing and saying the same things as the vast majority of people, or perhaps someone who has lost survival skills, or who cannot coexist among others, is the person considered mentally ill, at the present time.  

We're doing battle against ISIS in the Middle East, yet, apparently, Russia is supporting our opponents. Russian leadership believes we are in another "Cold War." North Korea is threatening to bomb us with nuclear missiles.  

Who are the actual crazy people?  

From all of the above, I conclude that insane behavior isn't a yardstick of mental illness. Mental illness is just illness and it is mostly a separate issue from real insanity.  

However, if a person has a mental illness, we are more sensitive to world events. It is difficult to watch television or internet news without becoming deeply disturbed. And, when we tune into the news, we see that many of the Republicans would like to eliminate our Social Security benefits, yet another source of anxiety for vulnerable people. 

Some of those with a psychiatric condition who are subject to outpatient institutionalization just live out their restricted lives, oblivious to what is happening in the news. Yet these events affect them too. Having less benefits could mean less care and more restrictions. Or it could mean homelessness, or even incarceration. Not that institutionalized mentally ill have it good now, but it will get worse under Trump or another Republican.  

If jobs existed that we could realistically obtain and maintain, I am sure we would all get jobs like we are supposed to according to the Republicans. But, you and I know, this isn't realistic--it is just as crazy as the head of North Korea who believes he is getting something good for himself by threatening to nuke Washington D.C.  

My advice to stressed mentally ill people is to focus as much as possible on your own life, on getting daily responsibilities dealt with, on getting enough rest, and sometimes, having a little fun. If the news or something in the mass media is too disturbing, shut off the television or computer.  

The stress created by world events, and the stress of having our benefits slashed, is bad for the condition of persons with mental illness. Some would say we just ought to get an extra shot of Haldol and we'll be fine. Yet we're human beings too, we have feelings, and we are quite capable of suffering. If you don't care about that you may as well join the followers of Trump--who may well be a Pied Piper who is going to lead you and the rest of his followers off a cliff.  

If you are interested in some good reading material, such as my science fiction collection, "Revised Short Science Fiction Collection of Jack Bragen," if you would like to read my new memoir, "schizophrenia: my 35-year battle," or perhaps my very popular self-help manual, "instructions for dealing with schizophrenia, a self-help manual," then please do visit the Jack Bragen page on Amazon by clicking here.