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Supporting Robin Roberts and More

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/robin-roberts-returns-to-good-morning-america/?hp

Robin Roberts of Good Morning America returned today following her treatment for Myelodysplastic Syndrome. She is in good shape and very happy to be returning to work. Throughout her time dealing with this illness she has had the support of fans and colleagues and family. She even was guaranteed her job on her return no matter how long it took. I am happy for her and most especially for the continuing support she received. It did, however, start me thinking.

What if she had had severe depression instead? What if she needed to seek in-hospital treatment in order to arrive at an even keel or some degree of wellness? Would her job still be waiting for her? Would she receive the unabashed support she received from fans, colleagues and family? Would people be smiling and waving and happy to have her back or would they be wondering when the next setback would be or why she let herself get depressed in the first place?

We never question when it is an illness where we see the effects on the body. We fix meals, we send cards, we applaud the bravery of the individual, and we try our best to make their re-entry into everyday life as pleasurable as possible. We have difficulty, however, when that illness does not show outward signs. We don’t send meals or cards or even call to find out how the person is doing. And it is very rare for us to applaud the bravery of someone who has struggled with depression, let alone the bravery of those few who supported them all the way along.

Illness is illness and it doesn’t matter if it is an illness of the body or an illness of the mind. We need to see that there is no line between them and that the people who have mental illness deserve to have our support and love, and, yes, even the job back no matter how long it takes for them to get well.

I wish Robin Roberts a continued good recovery and continued support from everyone and I wish that some day soon we discover that spreading that support to every hurting person would make a world of difference.
-Bernadette

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