Mental Health Drivers and Reading the Map (Updated 2022)

Telling someone who is battling mental illness or depression to suck it up and carry on is just as stupid as telling someone to drive at high speed, knowing that their breaks are shot and their tailgate is wide open.

(Yes, I took this photo and yes driving behind this person was terrifying).

People in crisis aren’t stupid, they know it when they are in crisis. But existing still demands they get behind the wheel of the vehicle of their lives and drive on as if it didn’t matter.

Making one’s way through the world in such a state can certainly be managed to a degree, but without breaks and with a busted tailgate, more care is required and risk is amplified even when performing the most basic of life’s tasks. We’re slower, more cautious, and certainly more defensive and anxious, particularly around other cars in motion.

Everything now has the potential to be a collision event, one that can harm the one who is driving the damaged vehicle, but also bystanders if either party is reckless, or simply unaware.

Like in a car, reckless is rarely the issue, although sometimes it can be. Lack of awareness either by the driver or by bystanders is the typical cause of an accident.

Break lines for example are located under the vehicle, where nobody can see them unless they know what to look for – either in how the vehicle is handled or by physically inspecting the lines for damage. The human mind is of the same design.

The most vital parts are hidden from view and inaccessible to all but a trained eye.

But again, one still needs to drive. Life makes it so we have no choice.

Now take that damaged vehicle, with that unavoidable fact, and put it on the highway with thousands of others. How can we tell which ones have everything in working order, and which ones don’t?

We can’t. We can’t see clearly enough and can’t stomach the thought, so we don’t think about it. We assume everything should be fine because to think otherwise is too unsettling. We’d never get on the road in the first place.

Mental health works the same way. Take care in navigating the highway that is the social dynamic.

Caution saves lives.

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