Every so often a tornado or other disaster strikes, killing several people, injuring many more. It’s heartbreaking to see images of these people, traumatized, homeless, some having lost loved ones, some having lost everything they had. You can’t see these images without being deeply moved by their pain.
When these disasters strike, there’s an outpouring of compassion from individuals and from the Government. Emergency funding may be provided to help people these get back on their feet, to rebuild their homes, recover from their injuries, help them heal from their losses. We reach out to help them.
Most people don’t know that such disasters are a daily occurrence for the mentally ill. Every day dozens of people are killed or injured by the effects of mental illness – suicide, substance abuse, lack of proper care, abuse. Scores more suffer severe injuries. Some of us, unable to function effectively, lose our jobs. Many of us lose our homes when we can’t pay the mortgage or rent. Many become homeless. Many lose everything. All this happens every single day.
Ours, though, is a silent disaster. We don’t make the news. Our fatalities, our injuries, our homelessness, losing everything – all of this is ignored. It’s as though it never happened.
We’re just as dead or injured as the victims of a tornado; we’re just as homeless. What’s different with us is that there’s no outpouring of compassion. We must try to recover on our own, while fighting the illness that created the disaster. It’s like trying to rebuild without any help, while the tornado is still raging.