While I’ve continued to recover from a back injury and put TTC on hold, I’ve been able to focus a bit more attention on another topic that is very meaningful to my family and me. My sister writes a blog, “Out of A Great Need” which shares her compassionate journey as a care taker for a loved one living with a mental illness. While this journey can be filled with so much despair, fear and darkness, my sister’s approach is full of light, hope, education, advocacy, breaking down stigma, support, art, creativity, devotion, mindfulness, love and a “never give up” attitude. Instead of succumbing to negativity or lack of knowledge that has crossed her path, or our society’s slowly evolving view of mental illness, she routinely rises above and educates others to have a greater understanding of these diseases of the brain.
With Halloween approaching, she recently became aware of several costumes on many, many Halloween and costume websites that sell the following:
Children’s Gone Mental Costume (Some websites have changed the name due to feedback, Spirit Halloween has removed it from inventory due to feedback!)
Adult’s Cell Block Psycho Costume
This is an example of how far behind we are as a society to break down the stigma of mental illness. These costumes make light of a disease. These costumes hurt and discourage those suffering and those who care for them.
Today, she wrote a heartfelt post titled, “Why…Why this?” about why she’s talking to all of these companies to remove these costumes from inventory. I encourage you to read her post here and below is a quote from today’s post:
When I stumbled across the Gone Mental children’s costume, I was deeply saddened. This costume (and adult costumes like it) dishonors the dedication of those who provide professional care for our loved ones, it dishonors our families, our friends, it dishonors our children’s suffering and recovery. It dishonors our children’s lives lost along the way. It encourages fear, isolation and hopelessness. It discourages our children from seeking the help they so deserve.
My sister started an effort with these Halloween costumes to make a difference and to break down stigma. She started an effort to fight for those suffering and to honor those lost along the way. And it’s working. Spirit Halloween removed the Gone Mental costume from inventory. I’ve joined in this effort by writing letters to all the companies she has listed in her blog posts and writing on each company’s Facebook pages. I’ve also posted reviews of these costumes directly on some of their websites. Many mental health advocacy groups have joined her. Other bloggers have joined her. Friends and family have joined her. The author of the book, “The Noonday Demon”, Andrew Solomon is showing his support of her efforts through Facebook and has shared her recent blog post.
She is working hard to educate others to bring awareness to these illnesses and I was touched by her words on another recent blog post, titled, “And Now you Know“:
The more we speak from our hearts…in letters…emails…product reviews…the more we share our truth…the less likely we’ll have to tackle issues such as these mental patient costumes in the future.
Contacting these companies is simply a key to unlocking that “something greater”…not just for ourselves…but for generations to come.
Hopefully, by speaking from our hearts, people will start to listen. When they shop for Halloween costumes, they might pause…remember…and choose another costume that does not cause such suffering.
And maybe…just maybe…they will also remember our voices when they hear a cruel joke or witness alienation or bullying and say, “That’s enough. We know better now.”
If this topic peaks your interest, I ask for your continued awareness on this topic. Halloween costumes are one piece of negative stigma toward mental illness. Be aware of these costumes, be aware of people making comments that show lack of understanding or compassion towards those suffering. Be compassionate towards those suffering. If you are struggling, please don’t be afraid to ask for help.
For more information on my sister’s efforts, you can visit this blog post,
Photo by CJE