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Finished speech

November 21, 2009

ABOLISH THE EIGHTH SIN.

“Have you ever confused a dream with life? or stolen something when you have the
cash? have you ever been blue, or thought your train was moving while it was
still? maybe I was just crazy. maybe it was the 60s. Or maybe I was just a girl,
interrupted.”

From the Motion Picture Girl, Interrupted, 1999.

Insomnia and phobias are two things everybody deals with. Who hasn’t laid in bed
late at night, staring at the ceiling, thinking, why am I not sleeping yet?

And everyone is afraid of something. Like, say… public speaking. Why is it
socially acceptable to be afraid of public speaking, when it’s weird to be
afraid of something random like, I don’t know, rubber bands. Public speaking
isn’t dangerous anymore, not really. Rubber bands might actually be more
dangerous. It’s not like we live in George Witfield’s day where people used to
throw pieces of dead cat at the orator if they didn’t like what they were
saying! Honestly, the things society accepts doesn’t make sense sometimes. Dead
cat!

And if you haven’t been capsized by grief, depression or anxiety, chances are
you will someday. But in the meantime we act like we’re immune.

Have you ever had so much anger flood your veins you were afraid to let it
loose? Perhaps you felt it was safer to turn it on yourself.

Problems like alcoholism and eating disorders are aided by gravity, and most of
the people in the therapist’s office were regular people once, and most still
are.

All these are mental health issues. Just because you experience these things
does not make you mentally ill, but sometimes people act like it. They also act
like it’s contagious, like you’re going to sneeze your paranoia all over them.

Everyone has problems. Some are just more obvious than others. If someone has a
few quirks, maybe they’re a little OCD, and life goes on without too much
trouble, whatever. People should be allowed to be themselves.

But if people are hurting… why should they feel like they can’t ask for help?
Isn’t that what friends are for? I’m not saying you have to befriend that old
man down the street who sells rat poison, but maybe you could just look your
friend or family member in the eye and let them know you mean the words “How are
you?”

When we’re asked this question… something keeps a lot of people from being
honest when we’re asked.

It’s called the Eighth Sin. It’s the last and worst of the seven deadly sins,
and it’s the sin of weakness, also known as the sin of expression. Admitting
weakness is shocking and offensive. Only time can forgive you. Conformity is the
safest thing. The eighth sin is why we learn, eventually, not to cry in front of
others.

Sometimes people are afraid of the mentally ill. But is everyone who struggles
dangerous? Of course not! Those with severe mental illness are the bravest
people I know. The things they get up every morning and face each day is
overwhelming for the rest of us to think about. They are anything but weak.

Would you be able to handle not knowing if what you heard or saw was real?
Wondering when your native language would leave you, and you would be unable to
think or communicate. What about breaking into tears of frustration over things
other people can do with apparent ease? What if you were startled by every noise
above a certain decimal?

Then imagine people looking down on you on top of all that, as if the illness
isn’t bad enough.

Or maybe people try to tell you you’re fine, when somewhere inside you know that
you’re not, and you want to improve. It’s the most frustrating feeling.

The problem is that of the eighth sin.

When people dare to talk about how they feel, most of the time they just want to
be heard and understood. They aren’t looking for pity they’re looking for
affirmation. Yes, life can be hard. yes, it’s worth it.

The eighth Sin. Is it really that big of a deal? I mean, what’s wrong with
always showing your strong side?


pause

Only 1 in ten people with eating disorders receive treatment.

Only 50% of those ever report being cured.

and the last and most startling statistic:
A woman with anorexia is 12 times more likely to die than a woman her age
without anorexia.

What if…. we weren’t afraid to talk about things like eating disorders or
depression? What if it was caught sooner? What if, in doing so, the recovery
time could be significantly reduced?

What if… all this is within reach if we just

Abolish the Eighth Sin.

-end-

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