ajdonwntherabbithole is about one person’s life with mental illness. It is my wish, my hope, that in writing about my experiences, I might educate people who are unaffected by it and help others who struggle with it heal and feel not so alone. There is a stigma and pervading myth surrounding mental illnesses, and many times those who suffer live in isolation, in the darkness, and with terrible secrets. It is my desire that in speaking my truth, I will shine some light into that dark place.
Mental illnesses are diseases, just like diabetes, and living with them requires acceptance, understanding, patience and resilience – for both the consumers and those who love them. I was and am one of the lucky ones. The people in my life who are close to me accept me as I am, are eagre to be educated, and love me not in spite of everything, but because of everything. I realize all too well that many – unfortunately too many – have to deal with familial ignorance and rejection, loss of friends, poverty, and lack of medical care, and often end up drug addicted and living on the streets. It is a sad commentary on our culture that there isn’t more education available to the public about mental illness and a greater desire to learn. Ignorance breeds mistreatment and sufferers live very marginalized lives, ostracized from the main current of society, viewed sideways and handled with malice and contempt.
After years as an actor and the subsequent years of darkness, when I was finally able to work again I went into the mental health field and cared for and worked with these people who were not as blessed as I. I have seen first-hand their complete and total impoverishment of body, mind and spirit – the end result of an unrealized life. I have known suicides, seen many, many hospitalizations, and spoken at length and often with folks who were wholly bereft, receiving life’s very basic needs doled out by the state in crumbs and pennies. None of them were getting the kind of help or treatment that could be life-altering or transforming, but all of them deserved it. I eventually left that world as I was not in a position to facilitate change in a broken system and it all got to be too much for me.
I hope that ajdowntherabbithole makes a difference for those who are misunderstood and shunned, and gets some much needed information out there. I write in the first person because mental illness is a part of my life too and I can speak from personal experience. My illness is not all of who I am, nor is it for anyone else who struggles. I want to make that perfectly clear. Look at me and others who are mentally ill hard before you judge us. We are you.