You can’t turn on the television or radio without news of the progress (or lack of it) in Congress as the healthcare bill is debated and possibly voted on this week.

I can’t imagine not getting care or medication for myself if Medicare is diminished.  And for those who have not had treatment and who need it, what is the chance they will ever get well if the current bill goes through?

If you have never been touched by mental illness (either through your direct struggles or those of a family member) you can’t imagine what the future might hold without the support so many of us need.

I have wondered what would have happened to me if I had become sick in 1909, the year my father was born. Believe it or not, I would have been institutionalized and possibly kept in chains as was commonly done at that time. Yes, really. Chains.

At SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), the mental health support department at the US Department of Health and Human Services, there is a huge bell (not unlike the Liberty Bell).  It sits in a separate room in their offices and it is remarkably moving just to look at it.

Because it was made from the chains gathered from mental hospitals once they began to treat sick people in a humane way.

The chains were melted down to be molded into a bell shape and it brought me to tears when I stood next to it.

Please reach out to your Congressional representatives. We can’t afford to go backward in treating those of us who struggle with mental health conditions.