What the President was talking about, I believe, is what we are doing to each other as a People! Hate; discrimination; road-rage; ageism; child/senior abuse; teasing among school kids; DWI; drug abuse; domestic violence; divorce; shootings in schools; racism; gossip; put-down of others; resentment, etc.
I think the tragedy of Virginia Tech, is a warning to all of us, that we'd better take mental health issues more seriously in the future. None of us are getting any younger, and like it or not, we're all going to have to deal with the issues of depression; dementia; and Alzheimer's disease,etc.
'Sanity remains defined simply by the ability to cope with insane conditions." Ana Castillo
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I've been in the humor business over 50 years, so when I built my website, I knew there would be plenty of humor. But, I wanted more than that. I wanted to address other important issues in all of our lives, such as the environment; encouraging young people to stay in school, and good health care...both physical and mental health care, etc.
Starting out with my idea on the Funny Farm, I had two problems: We still live in a country filled with people of hate; discrimination, racism and bigotry! That's the sad part of it all...but true nontheless. Age discrimination goes on all the time in this country all the time, and discrimination against people with mental illness goes on all the time, too. The name-calling; job discrimination; the put-down of others, which is a shame for this country!
Frankly, because of all this, I was reluctant to open the Funny Farm, because of my fear of getting flamed...hate mail...discriminated against or even losing my job! Isn't that a shame when a person has to feel this way, when dealing with a topic that is so important such as mental illness? So, I had to proceed carefully.
Going back to the Stone Age of 2003, as I contemplated all of this, I did so for about six weeks, and I went back and forth with the idea, as to whether I should go forward with the decision on the matter. The second problem I had, was how could I blend humor with mental illness, and do it in a respectful, dignified way. Experts tell us, that having the ability to laugh at ourselves, at all the "crazy" and "insane" things we all do, is good for our health...it's therapeatic! I didn't know at the time, if I had the courage to attempt something like this or not.
After a few weeks, I decided to open the Funny Farm, but I would do it in a serious manner, and I would leave out any humor, because I frankly didn't know what to do or how to handle it. Weeks went by, and everything went well...as I didn't get flamed or recieve any hate mail, etc. The opposite happened, as my website got four awards in 2004, which nourished my soul and I was very happy about! I was relieved that I could go forward with such an important project.
One day, I was surfing around in the Homestead (host) clip-art library, working on an article, when I stumbled onto the cutest little straight-jackets I've ever seen! I knew right away, I was going to have to bring in these little straight-jackets and put them to work. This is how the humor in the Funny Farm came into being, and I opened the Funny Farm Gift Shop, and called them my little designer straight-jackets in many different colors, etc.
Humor has its place, and a person can find themselves in trouble very quickly with the mis-use of humor. When I was down because of hardship and heart-failure (2005), I was in a psychiatric ward for over three months. It gave me great joy, when I put a smile on one of the other patient's faces, which brought joy into their life, even if it was just for a few seconds. So, now I would try to place humor in the Funny Farm, always remembering to do it with a respectful and dignified way.
I decided NOT to throw a bunch of jokes in the Funny Farm, for that would be tacky, cheesey and dis-respectful. I decided to talk about the positive and healing power of humor instead, and what clean humor means to all of us, etc. This turned out to be my starting point, in blending the healing power of humor and mental illness.
In May 2007, my website received the World Wide Web Award, (no hate mail)and I cannot tell the reader, how much it means to me to continue with this project, of trying to keep the public informed (in a small way)of on-going mental health issues.
I read a newspaper article recently, whereby stress and depression in the work place are at an all-time high. It's no wonder...as we live in such a greedy society, as many people can barely make ends meet and many are living from paycheck to paycheck, and can't save for the future. This is putting a lot of stress on families of all sizes.
The stigma concerning mental illness must be removed in our society.
Stigma: (definintion) Shame or social disgrace.
"Mental health is nothing to be ashamed of...but stigma and bias shame us all." Bill Clinton
And, maybe the senior President Bush was right...we do need a kinder, gentler nation! I encourage everyone to get the health care they need...both physical and mental health care...there's nothing to be ashamed about.
"Health is not valued until sickness comes." Dr. Thomas Fuller
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