Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Price of Pet Companionship

Researchers warn against allowing pets to give you kisses and sleep in your bed.

Well, I have systemic lupus and cancer. Both of these severely weaken one's immune system. I also have two cats who sleep in our beds and I have NEVER caught anything from them. I'm glad that they are in my life, because having pets will ensure that you don't spend the entire day in bed. Even when I was in acute pain from my chest surgeries and the last thing I wanted to do was move any part of my body, I still got up and made sure the cats got fed and the litter box was cleaned. When I was almost completely bed-bound, they would jump up on the bed and just hang out with me for the majority of the day. I can't even explain how much their companionship helped me, once my partner had to go back to work and my daughter was at school.

Even if I did catch something from them, I'd consider it a small price to pay for all that they have added to my life.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Arizona Shooting From A Schizophrenic's Perspective

As someone who lives with schizophrenia, it's quite apparent to me that Jared Loughner also has it. I've been keeping my mouth shut about this whole affair, but I must admit that I do feel a great deal of sympathy for him when I think about the fact that this whole thing might have been avoided if we had better health care resources in this country and this young man could have received the sort of help that he obviously needed. I'm really, really blessed to have an excellent and loving support system that helps to keep me grounded during those times when I need it. I've never hurt anyone, even when my condition was at its worst (my symptoms are generally only brought on by certain medication­s), but I can't help thinking,

"There but for the grace of God, go I."

I have no illusions about what's going to happen to Loughner. In all likelihood, his mental state will not be considered when his sentence is handed down--and make no mistake about it, this guy will be found guilty. It's a shame though, because locking him up or even executing him will do nothing to prevent incidents like this from happening again.

Most people with schizophrenia don't hurt anyone. We often end up being a danger to ourselves, but few ever go out and harm others. However, the recent Arizona shooting shows that this doesn't really matter to most people.

When we are dirty, homeless, and mentally declining, we are laughed at and avoided or ignored and despised. When we are found dead on the streets or in some god-forsaken shelter, we are usually pitied and then forgotten. But, when our mental state abrades the orderly functions of (neuro-typical) society, suddenly there is outrage. People become indignant about the fact that folks like us are allowed to walk the streets. Well, whose fault is it that so many schizophrenics are to be found walking the streets? Are all of us out there because we want to be? Are all of us dealing with untreated symptoms by choice?

Do you want to know why the Arizona shooting occurred? It's because we are living in a society where people refuse to take responsibility for the well-being of their fellow citizens. Lately, there have been a lot of folks who seem to think that having a society where we all just take care of our own needs sounds like a pretty nifty idea. Okay, fine. However, you really can't complain when someone who you think is "not quite sane" starts believing that what they need is to blow something up or fire their gun, sending a spray of bullets across a room full of people. That's the price of not giving a damn about anyone but yourself.