A depessive says: Why can't you understand?
by Brooks Gardner
January 8, 2009
In the summer of 1998, I suffered a mental collapse that led me to believe that I was unworthy of living and I began an attempt on my life. The police were called and I was subdued with pepper spray and hand cuffs. I was taken to a local hospital that did not have room in its psych ward nor did a local mental hospital have room. I was transported to the closest State Hospital for Mental Health. I was highly medicated and kept on suicide watch for 24 hours. While in a mental hospital, one spends a lot of time walking the halls. My roommate and I considered most of the staff of sub-par intelligence. We kept each other quiet about out opinions and thus made it through the mandatory commitment. We got to return home and start back to try to start normal life. In early 1999, I am convinced that a high ranking officer gave a local muckraking news paper the scoop on my commitment and the follow-up to the commitment. In North Carolina it is illegal to release the information concerning a person's mental commitment or events leading up to that. I was angered by this action and check statutes and I suggested that I might begin an investigation of my police department. The Chief of Police swore a stack of everything he could find that he did not scoop the story to the press. The muckraking story appeared on the front page with a not too flattering picture. The large headlines exclaimed "Former Mayor Attempts Suicide."
The next point of delivery of this story was to members of the local Scout Unit and it appears that someone felt that I should be punished and took the story to the Council Scout office in Greensboro. Shortly, I received notice that my registration had been cancelled. I looked to see if there was a time period, there was none and I was told that there was no renewing my registration anywhere in the nation. I made appeals to the Region and National offices, but the local Council was upheld on both occasions. This is when I discovered that the BSA does not give the accused the opportunity to appear before any appeal committee (seems like the practice of the standards of our Constitution did not apply even when it was my responsibility to teach scouts the duties of contributing citizenship).
I had been diagnosed with Major Depression. I tried to point this out to the BSA, but to no avail. I was being treated with Psychotherapy and good established drug therapy. Both of these treatments still are working. I realize that I must continue this therapy. However, since the cancelling of my registration I was allowed to return to substitute teaching and allowed in a classroom of thirty kids with the doors closed. I have been the advisor to a Boy Scout working on his Eagle Scout Award for the organization receiving the benefit of the project. This Scout chose to present me with an Eagle Mentor as his Eagle presentation. He and the parents and the Scout Leaders of his troop were well aware of my cancelled registration.
I am beginning to believe that the BSA holds some of the myths of mental illness to be fact.
Myth: Depression results from a personality weakness or character flaw, and people who are depressed could just snap out of it if they tried hard enough.
Fact: Depression has nothing to do with being lazy or weak. It results from changes in brain chemistry or brain function, and medication and/or psychotherapy often help people to recover.
Myth: Psychiatric disorders are not true medical illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. People who have a mental illness are just "crazy."
Fact: Brain disorders, like heart disease and diabetes, are legitimate medical illnesses. Research shows there are genetic and biological causes for psychiatric disorders, and they can be treated effectively.
Myth: People with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, are usually dangerous and violent.
Fact: Statistics show that the incidence of violence in people who have a brain disorder is not much higher than it is in the general population. Those suffering from a psychosis such as schizophrenia are more often frightened, confused and despairing than violent.
As one might imagine these misconceptions can do and do do irreparable harm to people with legitimate illnesses. I am well aware of this. It took me a long time to show my face in public. In fact, the first summer after this event, I went to work in Bar Harbor, Maine, because I knew that going to visit our camp was out of reason. I thought that being away from the area would help. It did because, no one knew who I was and did not know my history. I find myself among a reasonably long list of people who have dealt with depression. Some of these are: Amy Tan, Anne Rice, Boris Yeltsin, Brian Wilson, Buzz Aldrin, David Bohm, Delta Burke, Dick Cavett, Drew Carey, Harrison Ford, Hugh Laurie, J. K. Rowling, John Denver, Marie Osmond, Mark Roget, Mike Wallace, Rodney Dangerfield, Tennessee Williams, Terry Bradshaw, Thomas F. Eagleton, Vincent Van Gogh, Winston Churchill, and some even believe that Abraham Lincoln also suffered.
Then I read the following headlines: Boy Scout official pleads guilty to child porn: 520 images were found on his home computer. My, oh, my did depression cause this poor man to commit such an act? I did not catch his name on my list. Well, isn't that special. Here's what is really special: Smith's indictment was the result of a joint investigation between German and U.S. authorities to look into child porn distributed over the Internet. Authorities said they found e-mails containing child porn from Smith on the computer of a German man. Dean Boyd, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the investigative arm of the Homeland Security Department, declined to talk specifically about Smith's case, but said it is the kind that authorities take special care to investigate.
The Boy Scouts have had other problems with their personnel, including volunteers. A California court case in the early 1990s revealed about 2,000 cases of sexual abuse of scouts and other boys that Boy Scouts officials had documented privately for two decades without telling law enforcement officials. Something else that is very special.
For some time, I have been considering attempting to get by into Scouting as my grandsons are nearing the age of scouting. The Boy Scouts of America is not the organization it should be. Treating people with depression, as if they are crazy is wrong; covering up child molestation cases, is wrong. Allowing a person on the highest level of staff to be involved in worldwide child porn with 520 pictures of the sickest forms of sex among boys and knowing that this is going on right around us all the time. The Boy Scouts really do not teach values, it teaches money and numbers and the Church of the Latter Day Saints rules the roost. I would encourage some one to look to forming a new Scouting that includes boys and girls. A Scouting that, when it says that it is blind religiously and means it. It is a must. The Boy Scouts of America misses the target when it comes to teachings. The charter from Congress should be revoked because of discrimination at every level. The Boy Scouts of America should follow the bill of rights and let everyone understand where the organization gets its purpose.
Could the founder of Scouting Baden-Powell pass muster that would allow him membership in the BSA. Someone would question his masculinity and he would have his registration lifted. As for me, I choose not to be associated with the Boy Scouts in any form.
I am presently serving a life sentence for having Major Depression and being told that I was mentally unfit to be a Scout leader. I consider this cruel and inhumane punishment, but the Boy Scouts says that this must be done this way. Now the sad part of the story, if there is a way to let someone like me return to the BSA, no one seems to know how to do it. A felon can reclaim his citizens after paying for his debt. Even though, I do not have a dept to pay, I still cannot reclaim my Scouting credentials. These are credentials that few can match.
About the Author:
Brooks Gardner, was a decorated Boy Scout Leader for 25 years with 25 Eagle Scouts.
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