Prior to reading Rosie Perez’s book, “Handbook For An Unpredictable Life,” I had heard about Mental Illness and had even been in the presence of many who have faced it but were undiagnosed or were in a state of pure denial about their condition. It seems to be that many don’t want that sort of classification because they are scared of being judged and I totally understand that. Sometimes it may even be a cultural thing! It’s important for us to know that when we are feeling a certain way (maybe not feeling like our normal selves), we need to seek help. I am not a doctor but this is what I have seen in the past: for those who do not seek help, the issues just become bigger problems in their lives.
This book by Rosie made me realize that we all have our own demons, difficulties, struggles and problems in life. How we deal with things varies from person to person because all people handle things differently. As I read the Rosie book, I couldn’t believe how her mother treated her differently from the rest of her siblings but I could relate. I couldn’t believe how she continued to have children and place them into an orphanage (group home) and it just didn’t phase her. Some people are okay with that way of raising children and some are like myself, I wouldn’t leave my children with just anyone.
Before break I posted a Facebook status about a mom leaving her son for the holidays. The post sparked a huge amount of comments and the views and opinions of many who I respect. I never meant to pass judgment on this mom, I just wanted my readers, friends and family members to read and to kind of get an idea of some of the challenges that we are faced with as teachers. These are difficult issues (a boy upset about his mother taking a vacation over Christmas) that we as teachers deal with head on every day. Many people responded with their own full out truth of the type of mom that they ASSUMED she was.
When that took place, I in no way judged this mother. I actually thought, “What could be so hard in her life at this moment that she needs to leave him during the holidays?” I also said to myself, “If I even feel myself slipping in that way I would ask for help because I wouldn’t want to have to wait until a holiday to leave my child” and then I said, “Thank goodness she’s taking time for herself…she knows she needs it.” I know it may not be that easy and there are several cases of mental illness that just don’t play out that way. I also believe that we all deal with things in our own way and we all have a breaking point. I repeat: “We ALL have a breaking point.” The catch is, we often don’t know when that breaking point will be and how we will deal with it until it happens.
What I can say from this classroom episode and reading this book by Rosie Perez is that no one deserves to be judged! Reading this book gave me an even greater perspective of mental illness. I am NOT a doctor as I have stated prior, and I have only come in contact with individuals who have mental illness by chance but I couldn’t even tell you what illness they may have had. Often, I can just sense when something isn’t right or they need help. Many times, in my experience, these people don’t even realize they need help and that’s where good people like ourselves come in. We can’t judge them, we can only lend a helping ear and hand and propose help for them. The next time we notice someone needs help for their mental health, instead of judging, let’s reach out and offer help…. we never know what battle they are facing!