Happy 2022, Beautiful Humans,

While I am always down to celebrate, and a new year is a good reason as any, I continue to implore folks to put no stock or hope in the changing of an arbitrary number. Remember how many people could not wait for 2020 to be over? Than we got 2021. Please stop the insanity! It was many trips around the sun ago when I realized how ignorant and superstitious it is to put any faith in the year it is. In fact, in 2020 I wrote another whole blog about it, “Why 2020 has Not Sucked”. I link it here again for your consideration.

Speaking of stopping the insanity, something happened in yesterday’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers – New York Jets football game that is all over the sports, news and social media today. You probably have already seen or heard about it. Many older National Football League veterans and observers said they never saw anything like it. Well, they’ll never be able to say that again.

The now former Buccaneers’ oft-troubled and all-pro wide receiver Antonio Brown shed his jersey, shoulder pads, and shirt (which he threw into the stands) during yesterday’s game. In doing so, he abandoned his team.

As ineffective as this one was, some of Antonio’s past misdeeds are much more disturbing than this one. His story is widely available if you’re interested in searching it. Retelling or diagnosing his checkered life is not the point of this piece. We’re just using it as a jumping-off point for a larger lesson.

Antonio Brown is clearly suffering from mental illness. One of the telltale signs of somebody who is really suffering mentally is when it costs them significantly their wallet. Brown potentially left millions of dollars on the table when he left the game.

The general response of the public to what he did once again demonstrates our society has a long way to go when it comes to understanding and dealing with people who are significantly mentally ill. “What a jerk” could be heard and read throughout the nation.   

We are all apt to be ill mentally from time to time. In reality, we all are like Antonio Brown. It is just a matter of degree. Some, the “clinical cases”, are just more prone to it. It is more apparent in their lives.

Certain people get colds or the flu (or suffer while dealing with COVID) more than others. Everybody gets a cold once in a while. However, only a certain percentage of the public is “sick all the time”. Same thing with illnesses of the brain—our most vital organ.

Obviously, the manifestations of illness below the chin are much different than the ones between the ears. We need to stop stigmatizing people with diseases of the brain. We don’t call people who are coughing or hacking up a lung because they have an upper-respiratory issue “a jerk”, do we? We feel compassion for people who are suffering. But often we do not extend our compassion to the mentally ill. Why? Because mental illness looks a whole helluva lot different than other sickness. If Antonio Brown suffered a career ending knee injury yesterday, the sports world would be articulating compassion for him today.

Admittedly, mentally ill people can and do endanger and hurt those around them all too frequently. So, how can we both deal with those who have a serious brain disease with much more compassion, effectiveness and understanding all the while protecting ourselves from damage? Here are the ABC’s:

  1. ACKNOWLEDGE – Acknowledge mental illness is no different than any other illness of the body. When someone dies due to cancer, do we say they committed cancer? Of course not. But when somebody dies of suicide due to mental illness, we say they “committed suicide”. This must change! Dr. Steve Arkin’s phraseology “they succumbed to suicide” is much more accurate and compassionate.
  2. BE CONSCIOUS – Be conscious and aware if keeping your distance from someone in your life who is mentally ill is advisable for you. It may be necessary for your own protection. However, if a family member of yours vomited on you while undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer, would you be mad at them? Of course, not! But the next time you were around them, if they were getting all  ”green around the gills”, you would back the fuck off of them, wouldn’t you? Why? Because you wouldn’t want to get puked on again, that’s why! Sometimes with folks suffering mental illness you have to do the same sort of thing or you’re going to get puked on, so-to-speak. Nobody likes to get puked on.
  3. COMMUNICATE – Communicate with your friend or loved one why you’re backing away. There is a new media campaign for mental health awareness. You may have seen the ads. It called seizetheawkward.org. Yes, it can be awkward to speak with someone who is acting all crazy and shit. But if you love them (and yourself), fuck the awkwardness and talk!

Yesterday when the Buccaneers released Antonio Brown they were saying, “We can’t be puked on anymore, AB”.

Let us wish Antonio (and all people suffering any illness), nothing but love and light in their journey toward healthfulness and that they get the help they need. For those directly in our lives, let us all practice the ABC’s.

Feel free to reach out to me anytime if you or somebody your care about is struggling. My cell is 813-363-9545.    

Categories: LIfe Coaching

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