Mental illness often interferes with a person's easy and spontaneous participation in a social unit. A therapeutic community heals hurts and teaches new social skills. It takes a community to help a patient. Virgil Stucker has been living with and for the severely mentally ill all his adult life. Perhaps better than anyone, he can tell us what works.
Let's keep talking about behavioral health for everyone. But let's stop talking about recovery for serious mental illness and start celebrating people whose brain disorders cause them to live with health challenges comparable to those experienced by cancer patients. The word we need, in the face of so much loss, is hope. Mental illness is not a choice. But hope is. Even in the face of tragedy, today I choose hope.
After the thousands of hours I've spent in recovery meetings, I can say I'm certain of only a few things. First, despite what many people believe, AA is not a cult. It's just a group of alcoholics trying to figure out how to stay sober by helping the next guy or gal stay sober. Two, no matter how shitty I feel before walking into a meeting, I always feel a little better after it's over.
Last weekend my husband and I went to two dinner dances. We love to dance. In fact, we took three different ballroom dancing classes this year. Since ballroom dancing is one of the top five things you can do to stave off dementia, we figured a thrown hip or knee was a better choice than Alzheimer's.