Before you read this post. This is an open letter, which I had decided to post here. These thoughts are mine and I will not apologise for them. I also suggest if you are triggered by issues of mental health, you do not read this post. Please note I will not be linking to the news articles available about Jennifer’s recent arrest, you can find them easily by doing a quick search on Google.
I’ve sat quietly and watched as the media reports have filtered into my social media feeds. I’ve made a couple of quiet comments, and I’ve sat and read many more comments. Some of them have been chock full of the ignorance about mental health, others, many more others have been full of voices decrying the way in which the media has handled things, and of undying support for you, someone we consider a member of our community, our family. We Trekkers, in fact, the sci fi community in general, are a supportive bunch, and my heart swells when I see the way in which they are rallying.
I used to ask myself what I would tell you if I met you at one of the many conventions I have attended over the past six and a half years. Would I tell you, like I told Kate Mulgrew, how I came to be introduced to Star Trek through the Voyager ep, Year of Hell? Would I tell you how much that helped me during that period of my life? Would I thank you, as I thank all of those who have touched a part of me that needed healing at a particular point? Now the questions I’m asking myself are different. I’m asking why the media demonises and sensationalises mental health. Why do they choose to blow things up instead of ask where the support is for those of us who deal with mental health issues? Why are so many media outlets unable to show an understanding of something that 1 in 4 adults deal with in their lifetimes? These are questions mirrored amongst the community.
I have had mental health issues for most of my adult life. I’ve been in and out of various treatments, treatments that mostly failed. They failed because they were aimed at creating a level of ‘normalcy’ that they think everyone should have. What the practictioners of these treatments failed to realise, was that each person is an individual and what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for the rest. They also neglected to look at my treatment for PTSD and the fact I have an Asperger’s wired brain. My normal is not society’s normal. It’s taken over a decade for me to find my way through things, the right medication, the right support. It turns out that for me, that support was not from a professional, but from another member of the Sci Fi family. Someone who gets the way my brain is wired and is helping me rewire my brain to lessen the effects of the PTSD. Eighteen months into that friendship, and I’m finding that whilst I still have a long way to go, I’m starting to learn how to deal with things differently. I am among the fortunate, I have a support system in place that is helping me look at the world and my mental health differently.
I wonder if you have a support system. It’s not something you can surmise from news reports that prefer to focus on the ‘OMG!’ factor rather than the reality of living with mental health. There are so many who find ‘support’ in addiction rather than in other people. I wonder if you have fallen into that category. It may seem rude of me to question these things, but having been one of those people who found that type of ‘support’, I can’t help but wonder. And I wonder if you will be treated as someone who needs help and real support, or if, as in so many cases, you won’t get the help you need. The judicial system on both sides of the pond can neglect those of us with mental health issues.
I hope, that whatever happens, you manage to find the support you need. That is my wish for you right now. There is a community, an army, a family, of Sci Fi fans out in the world who are more concerned with you receiving help than what you’ve been arrested for. They are the same family who choose to help anyone who is struggling and needs support, no matter why. They are the people who have supported me, and who I in turn choose to support. We may be labelled geeks, nerds, freaks, but we are intelligent emotionally as well as intellectually and that is a powerful force.
If you were to read this letter, you may tell me to ‘eff off’, you may not. But regardless of how you were to react, I would still close my eyes and see Kes, the Ocampa girl with a beautiful childlike naivety who taught me how to look at the beauty in the world again. And I would pray that somehow, you are able to find your way back to some kind of inner peace.