Sunday, February 15, 2015

It's Hard Taking Care of a Baby Even When You're Not Mentally Ill

I have complicated and controversial opinions about the concept of mental illness.

I tend to disagree that it's the same as something like Leukemia, the flu, or Multiple Sclerosis.

I think most cases of emotional problems are not about the person being abnormal and sick but more about them having a normal and somewhat expected reaction to a difficult situation.  Because of this, I appreciated the episode of Rush I saw this morning.

In the episode, Dom's wife is experiencing post-natal depression. She's tired, worn down, desperate, and it comes to the point that she's almost catatonic. Dom and his police mates find her walking down the street in a trance like state. They beg her to tell them where the baby is, and she won't/can't answer.

Is she sick? Is there something inherently wrong with her that prevents her from being a good mother?


I doubt it, though.

She's dealing with a baby who cries a lot. She's doing it on her own for the most part. Her husband is usually away, either doing his police work or having his affair with a young barmaid.

After a panicked search, Dom finds the baby at a local shop. He finally realizes he's going to need to step in and help a bit more. He sends his wife to her mother's to get some rest. He assures his coworkers that he'll get his wife to see a doctor.

He's left to babysit. And in a short time, he becomes very stressed by the baby's constant crying. He calls a coworker to come help him. She's nice enough to do so, and even brings him some dinner. What would become of him, though, if the coworker was too busy to visit? And what if he was stuck taking care of the baby full time with hardly any breaks?  Maybe he'd end up almost catatonic like his wife.

Yeah. I don't agree with the campaign to make mental illness equal to cancer. I'd rather it not be seen as an illness and instead be seen as a normal common thing that's going to happen to most of us to some degree at some point in our lives.  If life treats us like shit, we're going to feel like shit.

That being said....I do think there are SOME cases where something is inherently wrong with a person. Sometimes it IS a chemical-physical problem that causes the breakdown.  And then in those cases, maybe it's best to equate it to cancer. Though I'm not exactly sure that cancer is stigma-free.

For the most part, though, I think we should spend less time medicalizing people's turmoil, and more time trying to make the world an easier and better place.

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