“All I want right now is what could be described as the macaroni and cheese. And it’ll probably only get worse as I age. My parents have hardly any critical filter at all anymore. Everything feels like a fastball right down the middlebrow plate to them. Almost every movie is good. They go nuts over almost every meal they eat. Pretty much every glass of wine is amazing to them now—they’re not worried that Pinot Noir is played out. And you know what they suffer as a result? Unrelenting happiness and satisfaction. You can say it’s a critical lobotomy, and maybe you’re right. I’ll grant you that it’s important to challenge yourself at times. Read some Beckett. Go lowbrow and eat some Twinkies. Wear some asymmetrical nipple-revealing shirt from a Japanese designer who may or may not be a eunuch. But just admit that when you go home at night, you’d rather be watching Friday Night Lights.”
“But the ad’s insinuation aside, it’s also possible the young woman is “just shy,” or introverted — traits our society disfavors. One way we manifest this bias is by encouraging perfectly healthy shy people to see themselves as ill. This does us all a grave disservice, because shyness and introversion — or more precisely, the careful, sensitive temperament from which both often spring — are not just normal. They are valuable. And they may be essential to the survival of our species.”—
“I just want to make sure that we’ve got compelling stories, that we publish them when they’re ready to be published and that we’re not holding all of them back because editors are trying to game when it has the best shot of getting on the front page. That’s a culture I’d like to break down.”—
No one knows how many people with severe mental illness live what appear to be normal, successful lives, because such people are not in the habit of announcing themselves. They are too busy juggling responsibilities, paying the bills, studying, raising families — all while weathering gusts of dark emotions or delusions that would quickly overwhelm almost anyone else.
Now, an increasing number of them are risking exposure of their secret, saying that the time is right. The nation’s mental health system is a shambles, they say, criminalizing many patients and warehousing some of the most severe in nursing and group homes where they receive care from workers with minimal qualifications.
Moreover, the enduring stigma of mental illness teaches people with such a diagnosis to think of themselves as victims, snuffing out the one thing that can motivate them to find treatment: hope.