It's as if everyone is amazed and amused at his brain droppings. Here's the deal; he is sick. He has a disease. One that we know of: Addiction, and we can logically assume that Addiction has probably brought along some friends from the mental illness party (they like to travel in packs). We cannot apply rational thinking to his words and actions, because his words and actions are not rational. The public's reaction has done one thing, in my opinion, put a big fat neon exclamation point on the fact that addiction and mental illness are so misunderstood and stigmatized in our culture. It is not entertaining, it is sad. It is horribly and completely sad.
For those of us who have struggled with loved ones and family members with addiction and mental illness, who have had it rattle the foundation of our families like an earthquake, who have lost chapters of our lives to these diseases, Charlie Sheen is not entertaining. The "senseless" and "hilarious" things he is saying, the narcissistic and self righteous thoughts he is putting words to are indicative of a disease, and if it were cancer making him behave this way - we wouldn't be paying the same kind of attention to it. Because we don't believe that people give themselves cancer, but the stigma of addiction and mental illness is that it is the fault of the sick person.
I am not saying that Charlie Sheen hasn't made bad choices. I am saying that Charlie Sheen is sick with a disease, and that his bad choices opened a revolving door of choices feeding disease feeding choices feeding disease... And we are having a difficult time as a culture understanding how that works because we don't understand the disease. Instead of trying to understand the disease, everyone's huddled around the water cooler, or the dinner table, or in the gym locker room, or around the glow of their television hungry for the very last "crazy" thing that "crazy" Charlie Sheen said.
I'm afraid that we are missing a huge opportunity here. An opportunity to be educated about the disease of addiction, and the effect it has on the people whom it afflicts as well as the people in relationship with them. In my experience, one reason people don't make the attempt to understand addiction is because it forces each of us to confront the possibility that we too may have addictions; drugs, alcohol, food, attention, collecting, hoarding, etc. Whether Charlie Sheen decides to do the hard work of recovery and treatment, or continues to go down a path of destruction driven by the disease is not my business, and I find it in no way entertaining or hilarious when I hear the disease speaking through him. I am not amazed or fascinated by it. I am just plain sad.
So, I'm opting out of the conversation. Shutting off my TV when Charlie Sheen's "actions" make headline news. Changing the subject when someone tries to engage me with the latest Sheen-ism. I am making a choice - and I'd love for you to join me... if you feel it too...