Posted by: marilynmendoza | July 16, 2012

DEAR MATT LAUER; DON’T CALL ME CRAZY


My ex-boyfriend told me his mother kept up to 50 cats outside on leashes and stayed awake all night cooking for them. When the neighbor’s complained  she explained to my ex that while human beings had always hurt and disappointed her animals never did. Maybe you might think the mother was inhumane and mentally ill and maybe you would be right but if I tell you the  details maybe you won’t. This was Japan in a time where cats were exterminated on sight and men were publicly  encouraged to be cruel to their wives.  I have also been disappointed in people and my latest disappointment  is in you Mr. Lauer.

Now, I know you are the host of the Today Show and are respected for your sensitivity and fairness and in fact you were one of my favorite news anchors. But yesterday you disappointed me with your very insensitive remark about anxiety disorder. You joked with one of your female co-hosts. I know Ann Curry was let go before I could blink, so  it must have been your new host Savannah Guthrie. You joked she was about to have a “Full blown panic attack” ha ha ha Oprah Winfrey has a saying. “What I know for sure.”  She sure has a lot of things she knows for sure and I don’t, but one thing I know for sure is that you, Mr. Lauer have never had a full-blown panic attack or any panic attack or you would never have joked like that. I who know only a few things for sure have had many a panic attack and let’s just say it isn’t a joking matter. It is a matter of life or death at the time to the person who is having it. Not you of course.

I shouldn’t have been disappointed or even surprised. The stigma against mental illness is one of the last frontiers of accepted prejudice.  There are so  many falsehoods about people who have a mental illness it’s close to impossible to list them here but for you I’ll try; we are crazy, violent, homeless drug addicted wrecks. 

 Mental illness affects a large population of the world.According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over a third of people in most countries report problems at some time in their life which meet criteria for diagnosis of one or more of the common types of mental disorder

 ChosenFast.com, news and info about homelessness and related issues in Greensboro, N.C says

To sum up: Most mentally ill people are no more dangerous than non-mentally ill people. But there is a subgroup of seriously mentally ill people who are more dangerous than the general population. They are the ones who make headlines — and stereotypes. An update  on this site says-Alcohol is more closely associated with crimes of violence than any other drug. It is a bigger culprit in connection with murder, rape, assault and child and spouse abuse than any illegal drug.”

Chosen Fast is written by Michele Forrest, a Greensboro, NC homeless advocate

I know what you are thinking Mr. Lauer. Who am I to tell you what is true or untrue?.  I was fooled into thinking you were practically perfect but it’s not my fault. I was brought up with Walter Cronkite before we had images of war and poverty in our faces every day on TV news shows, making us almost immune to the most terrible acts humans can inflict on fellow humans -And animals. I thought at least you would know that mental illness is an illness just like  heart disease or diabetes. It is not a flaw of character. It is not our fault and now it is more treatable than ever.

Anxiety is my particular mental illness with agoraphobia as it’s twin. I stay at home more than I want to. I am afraid more than I want to be and I used to have “full-blown panic attacks” that brought me to many emergency rooms around the world. I say the world because I had this force inside of me that wouldn’t give in to my disease and I took the risk to live and fail. I failed a lot but I lived and healed.  I wrote a memoir to understand what brought me to anxiety besides genetics and trauma, and there was a lot of both. I was called “crazy” “weird, nuts  and a basket case. I didn’t let that define me and I can’t allow you now to define  panic disorder or to laugh at the sufferers of this painful disorder without using my biggest weapon against stigma; WORDS.

So, I close with a story. I now have three dogs who live inside my house and they give me  love and comfort without  disappointment. I don’t call anyone “crazy” or laugh at any illness and I hope you never will again. I don’t cook for my dogs all night, I now can sleep but my fur babies  eat organic food and together with my significant other we  walk them every day. It’s not always easy but my love for all of them gives me  the strength to go out and take risks to live a meaningful life.

Maybe you also like animals. I hope you do. Maybe you are not a bad guy but I won’t hold my breath for an apology. You were ignorant to laugh and think you’re funny or better than one who does suffer with anxiety. I also think Ann Curry wouldn’t have made that joke.


Responses

  1. It’s interesting how one off-handed remark can affect a person. Thanks for the thoughtful post!

    • Thank you Theresa, Words are powerful and should be used with care especially if you have an audience. Aloha


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