Monday, April 10, 2006

Regarding mental illness

Mental illness is probably one of the diseases we understand the very least. Lots of people on death row are mentally ill -- either they got their way because of death row conditions or, more commonly, it was a form of mental illness that caused them to commit their crimes to begin with.

That's why the following letter to the editor, published in the Dallas Morning News today, caught my eye:

'You can't see mental illness'----I can't imagine world without my daughter
Re: "Unlike tumor, you can't see mental illness, but it's there," by SteveBlow, Wednesday Metro.

My heartfelt thanks to Mr. Blow for his comments on our culture's double standard about mental illness. As the parent of a mentally ill daughter, I have experienced the lack of understanding and support.

If you met her, you would have no idea of the pain, despair, search for services and long list of medications. I ache for the times she reads of the mistreatment of mentally ill people blamed for acts out of their control.

At the worst times, I have wished she had a visible illness so compassion, understanding and treatment would be available. Then I think about who she is, how much she has accomplished, how courageous she is when she has to explain her limitations to a stranger or ask for medical help.

I think of how sensitive she is to the needs of others and how much fun she can be. I think of the dreams she has realistically let go and the wonderful life she has built. I cannot imagine the world without her, justa s she is.

Elizabeth Francis, Richardson

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