Broken bodies are easier to heal than broken minds. For the most part.
There is a point of no return for both. Obviously.
But bodies can be horribly broken, yet still heal. Scars will write the painful story across once torn skin, once broken bones, once mangled ligaments. But pushed too far, ripped too badly, the pieces can’t be knitted back together. Loose too much blood, the heart will have nothing to pump. Lungs will cease to infuse the cells with air. The brain will begin to die without oxygen. Life will end.
Minds can be terribly broken and sometimes heal. Sometimes. But not as often. Bones are programmed to repair. From a molecular level, cells are programmed to rush to the sight of wounds like tiny nano-robots, providing whatever is needed to stop bleeding, fill in burnt and missing skin, seal over gouged, ravaged flesh. Bodies are worth healing. We will go to great expense and take incredible risks to get our bodies back to a functional state. Billions of dollars are spent on researching ways to replace limbs, make people walk again, heal brain injuries, replace organs and create artificial skin.
Broken bodies are nothing to be ashamed of. People may look the other direction because they are afraid if they look too closely, something similar might maim them. They fear being mugged by fate or bad luck. But the person isn’t blamed for their injuries or resulting struggle. It is seen as something that happened to them, something hard to think about, but that certainly isn’t their fault.
But when what is broken isn’t related to the body…it’s a different story.
Broken things. We throw them away. We even get angry with them for letting us down.
We view broken things as being unworthy of repair. Not worth the money. Not worth the energy. If our phone is damaged, we get a new one. If our TV stops working, we head to best Buy or some other electronics store and pick up another. If our computer crashed too many times, we replace it with the latest, greatest model. The only things we fix are those big ticket items. Cars. Houses. And even then, they reach a point when it isn’t worth it to us to shell out the funds to fix the damage.
The only things we try to repair, regardless of the damage, are bodies. If we break a bone, we get it set by a doctor who has spent many years learning how to heal us. If we have cancer, we undergo extensive treatment to destroy the cancerous cells or have an operation to remove the malignant tumor…or both. If we are cut, we tend to the wound, be it a large gaping one that requires massive surgery to patch us back together or a minor cut that only needs to be cleaned and protected with a Band-Aid. We disinfect and tend our wounds to create a healing environment. We take heroic measures to restore badly damaged flesh. Sometimes, we don’t know when to let go.
Like old appliances, we throw emotionally damaged people out with the trash. They are nothing but a ripped shirt. A broken calculator. A microwave oven that no longer heats or defrosts. If the wound is to the psyche, the person is discarded. They are expected to repair themselves or stay out of sight.
The emotional wound may even have been obtained in an honorable pursuit. Think of the war hero struggling with PTSD. Had he lost his legs while serving his country, he would have been labeled a hero. People would say it was tragic, but they wouldn’t have doubted he was a worthy warrior deserving of a medal; deserving of acceptance and assistance. But since he “lost his mind”…and his direction…he is considered defective and deformed in a way that simply can’t be tolerated.
We will do what we can to heal the damaged body. But we shame those who struggle with depression or any of the many other mental and emotional illnesses. They are too heavy a burden.
I don’t understand this. But I see it and feel it every single day. If you have a mental illness, you are shamed into hiding it. You are told not to talk about it, to snap out of it, to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, to get on with your life and to stop feeling sorry for yourself.
Why, if the damage is physical, is it considered a disease or an injury? Yet if the damage is emotional, it’s considered a defect.
Why is the physically damaged individual not required to hide their wounds, but the emotionally damaged is expected to function normally in spite of theirs? We adapt the environment to the needs of the physically disabled, but we expect the emotionally disabled to think themselves into being another person altogether. We expect them to walk without legs.
The abused and broken have had their brains turned into mush. They suffered a debilitating wound that has changed them forever. Are they worth less because it is their mind that is broken instead of their physical body?
One we nurture and embrace. The other, we shame.
Shame is a very heavy burden to carry alone.