This sentence is straight-up true.
“There should be more empathy. Mental illness can be extremely messy.”
As Scarlett discusses, it’s easy to feel sympathy for the “good” people with mental health issues. That would be the folks who didn’t commit a crime, and who can act mostly in socially acceptable ways. The ones who have much messier situations often escape our empathy, especially if they happen to be homeless, or a member of an underrepresented group.
Mostly though, it’s just luck. Just as I’ve mentioned many times that I was privileged and lucky enough to be able to get help to learn how to deal with my trauma, I was also lucky enough to have only been homeless for a little while, and to have not had a violent or disruptive outburst that led to my being imprisoned or killed.
That luck doesn’t make me more worthy of empathy. It was just luck.
I’ll be honest, we’ve come a long way in understanding certain kinds of mental health struggles, and in offering support for them, but when it comes to the really messy situations, we still suck at this.
It’s not going to get better if we continue to see other human beings as less than.