Jack Bragen
Saturday August 25, 2018 - 12:01:00 PM

There are numerous things that society, people, and the mental health treatment systems expect from mentally ill people, and these expectations are often unreasonable.

When a person with a psychiatric disability is facing expectations from others that such person could not possibly fulfill, sometimes he or she experiences an overload, or a "does not compute" which can result in breaking down. Society is set up intentionally to make mentally ill people fail. That is the only conclusion I can draw, when I look at my entire history, which is riddled with me being sabotaged and attacked. Also, if I look at the outcome of so many other people with my problem, their lives almost always end in tragedy. This tragedy could be an early death, or it could mean being permanently incarcerated or institutionalized. Society and people are set up to prove that they were right about us. They then create circumstances that are unsolvable.

Many people may feel this way. What can you do in a situation that is clearly impossible to resolve? You must learn to accept the unacceptable. This idea did not come from me, it came from a spiritual teacher who was teaching a form of Buddhism. 

Regardless of your religious affiliation, and any automatic dismissal of a religious practice other than yours, you need to acknowledge that if you are in the path of a speeding bus, you have to get out of the way. A Buddhist might say, "If you don't get out of the way of the bus, you will die. If you get out of the way of the bus, you will die of something else." 

It will not help you to accuse the bus of being a bad bus, to accuse the driver of bad driving, or to feel sorry for yourself over your premature death. The laws of physics do not care about right or wrong or about your lamenting. You can not bribe the bus, reason with it, or play mind games with it or with yourself over it; the bus is headed your way. 

Acceptance can allow people to do better. Part of acceptance is the simple acknowledgment of facts. If you do not acknowledge facts because they are too painful, then you go into a system of denial. If this denial happens too much, an incorrect neural route is established that leads to becoming sick. This is part of what goes wrong in the minds of psychotic people. 

I have schizophrenia, paranoid-type. Yet, people expect me to function as they believe they would function--in a "normal" way. I'm sorry, but I am not normal. If people can not make an allowance for my problems, it seems that I am the one who suffers. When I do not act in a way that people can understand, they decide that I am the devil. I am not the devil; I am disabled. This affects how I act and think and speak. 

I am in the process of solving my circumstances without blaming anyone. Many who work in the mental health treatment system are good intentioned, and many have helped me a lot. Treatment practitioners want to see respect and cooperation. They want to see that we are making an effort to do the right thing. Some may have ulterior motives. However, it is probably paranoid of me to believe that "they are out to get me." 

Part of the role of treatment practitioners is to protect society. If they believe that a person they are treating is a threat, they will act. The only way of us getting through is to participate. 

I do not know to what extent I am being naive. 

However, acceptance is very important for us. We must first acknowledge facts, and then if we can tolerate the discomfort of facing facts, we can head in the right direction. 

Fact: I suffer from paranoia. I am resolving this situation by seeking additional treatment. I will continue writing this column. If you see me absent for a week, don't worry.