Living in Portland, Oregon, rain is a daily part of spring life. (This year has been freakishly dry, but we are not saying anything so that we don’t jinx it… Does blogging it count? Huh.). The rain is seen more as a nuisance. Similar to little bugs darting back and forth in front of you, something that you just try to ignore. Because it is part of our daily life, we just go on about our business as if it is not happening. The common NW joke is that you can spot a tourist by their raised umbrella.
As I was sitting in my car waiting for the rain to let up a bit, I looked in the pocket of the door and there sat a small umbrella. I thought to myself “I can’t” as my eyes darted around the street watching umbrella-less people running down the sidewalk looking miserable and bikers trudging bravely along the street.
Then I thought “I’m smarter than this… Why am I not automatically reaching for my umbrella?” Why on Earth do I not reach for that umbrella and raise it with pride knowing that I will be the ONLY Portlander to arrive at their office door dry? Pride? Wanting to make sure that everyone knew that I belonged?
Over the past week, the pilot that crashed the plane into the mountain has been constant in the news. The biggest problem with the 24 hours news stations is that they must fill the time – so they have commentator after commentator give their opinoins on the story. Unfortunatly, the current story is that the “pilot committed suicide” and “people around him knew that he had past depression issues” rather than “THE PILOT HAD EVIL MURDEROUS INTENTIONS THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE DEPRESSION OR SUICIDAL THOUGHTS.”
As with every tradgedy, people want to be able to point to something and say “there is the issue, let’s fix it and blame something. That way we all feel safe again”. The path we are heading down after this week is a very dangerous one. Blaming people who are depressed, talking about blocking applications of those who have anti-depressant medications on their medical history is reckless and very short sighted.
Mental Health issues are real and, according to the World Health Organization, effects 1 our of 4 Americans. Depression is common. Some people can move through it by engaging in talk therapy while others have a chemical imbalance that requires some medication. With early intervention, people can learn how to handle life’s challenges. What we need is encouragement. What we need is to make it more acceptable to seek help.
What we need is for the constant news channels to understand and look at the bigger picture. Encourage mental health advocacy, not stigmatize and demonize those who are reaching out for help.
Oh- I did grab the umbrella-,it was broken from years of being shoved aside in the car door… But it helped.