It’s Monday, fancy a superduper fabulously brilliant pep talk/great idea?
Excellent! Have a read of this…Pretty please with a cherry on top!
Think serious, think goal for the week/month/year/millenium.
I’ve just been reading an article about women who have chosen not to have children, not because they are horrible people with no compassion but they just don’t feel maternal and so feel it would be worse for them to bring a child in to the world that they don’t really really want than to conform with the status quo and procreate. One of the women pointed out something that I instantly related back to mental health although the two matters are entirely different. Bear with me, it’ll make sense.
She commented that a girl could get pregnant legally at 16 but not having children was not the traditional expectation, NOT having a child was somehow unacceptable and deeply frowned upon.
In the world of health and illness I would say that there are things which are considered more acceptable and others less so. Imagine “I’ve got diabetes” versus “I’ve got depression.”
Chances are that diabetes will get a sympathetic smile, a question like, “do you take insulin?” or “how does it affect your diet?” and the chemical defect in the body will be “acceptable.”
Now, let’s look at “I’ve got depression.”
Possible comments are “Buck up/Perk up/Snap out of it.” “What’ve you got to be depressed about?” “Oh yeah, I was ****ed of last Tuesday.” or “Are you on happy pills?” All accompanied by a wary or dismissive look or gesture.
Loud and clear a message is sent back to the unfortunate sufferer: “Depression = Not acceptable.”
Hmm, that’s not fair.
It took me far too long to accept that depression is also a chemical imbalance, there is no real difference between the two illnesses if you take them back to the words chemical imbalance. Insulin is seen as necessary medication to live a normal and rewarding life, anti depressants are given a derisive name “happy pills.”
So a person with depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD etc. is classed as what? Weak? Lacking? hey, that’s YOUR BAD not the sufferer’s. They can quite easily feel weak, swamped, like they are deficient, alone and fighting themselves and the world’s stigma so they really don’t need any additional unhelpful comments.
BTW: Yes, sufferers know that you think you’ll say something wrong and we’ll burst in to tears so you subtly avoid them/the subject but please be brave, you don’t have to hold a psychology degree to help…how’s about these comments plus a smidgen of your precious time instead:
“Do you need to talk?”
“Can I help?”
“I’m here for you.”
“Remember, it’s an illness nothing to feel bad about.”
“You are 100% NOT WEAK. It’s a chemical thing.”
“Don’t be ashamed, the medication will make you feel more like you.”
As a sufferer even knowing that you aren’t alone can feel like a miracle when your brain seems to be working against you.
So, if there is someone around you who is suffering from a mental illness they may just need to know that you’re on their team not chief judge, jury and executioner of any of their remaining self esteem. Reach out, a small gesture moves mountains.
Alone is a lonely place, everyone knows that! Give someone a hug, give their brain a friendly smile and not an unfortunate comment.
We all know that stigma can be overcome, please be a someone who does that rather than a someone who helps to build the crappy stigma pile up to the sky.
Have a fab week.
If every single person on the planet read this there would be a huge leap towards understanding, it is brilliant. Please read to the very end, it is rewarding.
Dear Person With Mental Illness,
You are not a monster. You are a valuable, unique, wonderful human being who deserves everything grand that this life has to offer. Come out of the shadows and stand proudly in who you are.
You are not damaged. You are WHOLE, regardless of having a mental illness. I like you the way you are. I wouldn’t change you. I see you differently than you see yourself. I am not afraid of you or your illness… I am amazed by you. I am amazed by your courage, willpower, gifts and talents. I accept you, and your worlds of light and darkness.
Some people just have a “neighborhood” in their mind and they never get lost. You have endless terrain to explore, but sometimes you take a wrong turn and can’t find your way home. I love your vast landscape and remember… we can make you…
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The great news is that I am putting the finishing touches to my new e-book about Marie Antoinette of France which will be out on 4th May 2015.
As I finish one project my mind is pondering what or who the next one will be about or if I’ll change to fiction this time. Decisions, decisions!
Some are making themselves even more unpopular by the day, others seem to think that they can make or break a nation almost singlehandedly. BUT there is one aspiring political lady (who I won’t name) who really overstepped the line this week.
She suggested – and her political party worked quickly to detach her comments from their visions -that people with mental health issues should wear wristbands to indicate that they were suffering from an mental illness – apparently different colours for different mental conditions – this would help the authorities to know what they were dealing with.
WHHHHHHHHAAAAATTTTTT was/is she thinking? Isn’t there enough stigma in the world already????
I wrote this to show my feelings on the subject:
Blooming hopping mad
Just read something truly bad
In the news a political type
I won’t say her name, I’ll simply gripe
Says mental health sufferers
Should wristbands gladly wear
So that everyone can know
That we’re not healthy, oh no
So, if I have to wear one
In her crazy world of stigmatised fun
What colours shall we choose
For coughs, colds and the flu?
Oh dear, she didn’t suggest that too.
I’m still a human being – Surprise!
Her “good” idea is discrimination in disguise.
I’m so glad that not everyone thinks in the way that she does, with the anxiety disorders OCD and PTSD I’d presumably have to wear two “look at me” wristbands for all to see, hey, what a fashion statement.
Oh, and fair warning, the politician who suggests that mental health patients should
a. be poked with sticks and/or
b. made a spectacle of
will be cruising for a metaphorical bruising as this isn’t the dark ages they can join the 21st century rather than drag humanity backwards.
Have a great weekend.
I have a pretty good idea of the way the UK thinks about mental health (and sometimes discriminates) but I would love it if you would take a couple of minutes and answer the 5 questions below for me so that I can get a more global picture.
Please feel free to e-mail me directly email@example.com to ensure your anonymity rather than using the comments option here. (Please use the comments section if you don’t mind people seeing your views.
NO names, e-mail, blog or website details of yours will be made available to the public via any article or blog post that I write.
The results will be written in terms of age range, nationality, male/female, not about specific people.
If you find out that someone has a mental illness do you feel uncomfortable?
Would it be easier if the person had a broken leg i.e. you could see the problem and how severe it was?
Do you feel that there are enough resources in the public domain to help people understand mental issues?
Would you say that having a mental illness carries a stigma with it?
If you developed a mental issue e.g. depression would you seek medical advice or try to battle on alone?
*Please add your age, sex and country details to your response.
Comments are very welcome.