|What keeps me going? Methylphenidate.|
Pope Francis has admitted taking something for his nerves. (What, a benzo or Jack Daniels? Probably something that disinhibits speech.) Yet he shows a remarkable insensitivity to people who struggle with mental illness. As if they didn't have enough to feel bad about, Pope Francis confirms what they all secretly fear. It's their fault. They should just try harder. Their medication is just a crutch or a hoax. If they were better people they would feel good.
Pope Francis on Mental Illness
Friday, the Oracle of Santa Marta, said a Christian does not anesthetize or numb pain. "Pain is pain but if lived through with joy and hope, it will open the door for you of the joy of a new being." So flush those meds, all you "unstable," and "neurotic" people out there. Suck it up and just be happy, dammit.
The Bear shall be charitable and once again play the tired old game of figuring out what the poorest public communicator in human history really meant.
Obviously, he is speaking only of the ordinary, if profound, pain of daily living. Clearly, he would never apply this to people diagnosed with a mental health issue. Still less would any responsible person advocate such people going off their meds.
The problem is, that's just the Bear's guess at what the man means. For all the Bear knows, he is one of those big-pharma haters who believes patients are being turned into zombies. Actually, that does not seem far-fetched. Drug companies are really rich. So what else has he said that might clear things up?
"Don't give in to depression. Hope!" November 27, 2014. Okay, thanks for that. Perhaps he means sadness. But depression is kind of a no-choice disease. It's not a matter of weaklings "giving in." This might not be an important distinction for many, but people who suffer from depression are going to be hurt and discouraged when they hear this.
"You will have days you will feel down, but don't be afraid, everything passes." Pope writing to clinically depressed Argentine prisoner who was on inpatient status in a behavioral medicine clinic. The former rock singer was convicted of incinerating 194 young people in a club fire.
Yes, your depression will pass. Then, if you happen to be bipolar, everyone will have fun when you cycle to your manic phase and set fire to some more people. Especially if you've flushed your lithium.
Here Pope Francis warns about keeping "unbalanced people" out of the religious life. April 15, 2015.
All the people who know the human personality -- may they be psychologists, spiritual fathers, spiritual mothers -- tell us that young people who unconsciously feel they have something unbalanced or some problem of mental imbalance or deviation unconsciously seek strong structures that protect them, to protect themselves.
While the Bear appreciates the sentiment, "unbalanced" is the kind of imprecise terminology like "crazy" that isn't exactly helpful, can be harmful, and is always impolite. (Unless a crazy person uses it.)
And here is something right out of the worst days of the Soviet Union: if you don't agree with me, you must be crazy. November 20, 2015.
I will tell you sincerely, I’m scared of rigid priests. I keep away from them. They bite!... If you are sick, if you are neurotic, go and see a doctor, spiritual or physical. The doctor will give you pills. But, please, don’t let the faithful pay for neurotic priests... There are often young men who are psychologically unstable without knowing it, and who look for strong structures to support them... For some it is the police or the army but for others it is the clergy... When a youngster is too rigid, too fundamentalist, I don’t feel confident [about him]. Behind it there is something he himself does not understand. Keep your eyes open!
"Sick" and "neurotic" men should get some pills from a doctor, but shouldn't become fundamentalist priests. Oh, and by the way, if you do have some mental health issue, you are not fit to be a priest, even if it is controlled with medication. In fact, all you sickos are probably not fit to be anything.
Oh, by the way, the Bear's two sons, who happen to have served in the U.S. Army (as did the Bear, for that matter) were gratified to learn of your opinion of veterans. And on Memorial Day. How special.
Or maybe that only applies to "fundamentalists."
Yep, Pope Francis really did accuse priests and religious who do not agree with him of being mentally ill. They're bad. Bad and crazy, see? How sensitive and merciful. A Pope, on the other hand, can be on undisclosed psychotropic medication and that's fine.
The Bear believes the faithful have a right to know what mental conditions the Pope is being treated for, and what psychotropic medication he is on. Seriously. This is a request. A dare. You show the Bear yours and he'll show you his. But, you know, if you have a mental illness and you're getting the proper treatment and know your limits, the Bear will not hold that against you. Because crazy people can, with the right treatment and a little luck, be anything they want. A Pope. A Bear. A man who thinks he's a Bear. Whatever.
The Pope does not seem to care much about behavioral medicine issues, unless he's tarring a segment of clergy with his crazy brush. Oddly, one runs across a lot of articles titled things like "Pope Francis and Mental Health," but they are written by people praising his general "openness," like Francis Mercy has been put in the water supply like Soma.
Pope Francis on Joy
As usual, this is overlong, and there are people waiting to use this terminal in the internet cafe the Bear is posting from, so he will wrap things up. (You'd think they'd never seen a talking Bear before in Damascus.)
On numerous occasions, Pope Francis has preached joy as the sine qua non of Christianity. The Bear has not heard an exception made for people whose neurotransmitters are half a quart low. Some Christians don't do joy. Yes, Pope Francis, I know. Your pastoral advice to them is: "You suck."
Well, your comments relating to mental health suck, too. But the Bear is hear to help.
- Stop using "unbalanced" and similar slang because those words are meaningless and hurtful.
- Stop using "sick" and "neurotic" as synonyms for "bad people who don't agree with me," i.e "fundamentalists." Not everyone agrees with you. They're fine. Get freaking over it.
- Don't psychologize beliefs. Stop pretending to diagnose huge swathes of the Church for your self-serving purposes. It doesn't work that way.
- Don't talk nonsense about "anesthetizing" or "numbing" pain. Some may do so illegitimately (the Bear is not in a position to judge) but many people do exactly that under their doctor's care in order to be functional despite their, um, "nervous problems."
- Learn some basic psychological vocabulary. You don't feel "down" a bit with depression. The fastest way to make someone who is depressed turn you off is to say things like, "we all get blue sometimes, it will pass." That is just BS whether it comes from a co-worker or the Pope.
- Don't say ignorant crap like, "a Christian is always joyful." It is never true all the time, and not true at all for some. We are not some kind of blissed-out love cult. You tie heavy burdens on the backs of the people, Holy Father. St. Corbinian's Bear knows something about that.
It is no exaggeration to say that this is a matter of life and death. Your words carry weight. They are heard by hundreds of millions. It is impossible to predict how some clinically depressed person, somewhere, may understand them. Please listen to a very plainspoken old Bear and have mercy. People with mental illness may not make as good of a photo op as refugees, but just learn a little, and choose your words carefully, please.
Someone kills themselves every 40 seconds. Imagine your words are the last thing the next suicide read. Think, for God's sake.