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I sit here wiping tears from my eyes after watching a segment on 60 Minutes. It was a segment about a father and a son. About mental illness and the failures of our society to help those in need. It wasn’t just any father, it was Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds, talking about his son, Gus. Senator Deeds’ face bearing the scars from the slashing that preceded his son’s suicide. Senator Deeds’ face showing the tears he cries when he misses his son. Senator Deeds’ face showing the anguish as he thinks about how his son might have been saved if only there had been a bed available in a psychiatric facility the night before the incident. Senator Deeds’ face, showing the tender eyes that his son shared, and the pain of a parent who has lost a child. And still, here he is, sharing his story on national television in the hopes he can help others. The Senator is putting forth legislation in Virginia that will extend the hold time in hospitals for those suffering from mental illness from 6 hours to 24 hours. He also wants to create a database that will show available psychiatric beds in the  state. I hope Senators in other states will follow suit. Sounds reasonable, sounds simple, sounds horrifying to think that if the hospital had held Gus Deeds just a little longer, he might still be alive today.

Va. State Senator Creigh Deeds

Va. State Senator Creigh Deeds

There’s a smile on the face of Senator Deeds and I find that miraculous, I find it heart-breaking and inspirational. Gus Deeds, was a brilliant musician, a “great kid”, according to his dad, and that’s what Senator Deeds wants people to remember when they look at the scars upon his face. That’s what he tells himself, I imagine, just so he can get out of bed every morning. The National Institute of Mental Health offers many resources for those looking for help for themselves or loved ones who suffer from mental illness. My tears are gone now and I am motivated further to talk about the issues that connect so many of us. For myself, my partner, and Totem Tamers, we strive to help those who struggle with anxiety, with simple techniques and without medication, that can be added to any therapeutic situation. Visit our site at www.totemtamers.com to learn more.

Stay well.