Right please try to go easy on me as I attempt to explain my point. It is something that frustrates me from time to time. This is absolutely not meant to take away from anyone who suffers from Depression. Depression is a horrible, life threatening disease that is to be taken seriously and has ruined many people’s lives. I applaud anyone who has ever gotten through it. My support goes out to anyone bravely fighting it. And my heart breaks for anyone who has lost their battle with it. I have experienced Depression before and I continue to tackle Anxiety. I fully understand both illnesses. Awareness around depression is important. My issue is – what about all the other mental health problems?
The topic of mental health badly needs to be broadened. Of course I think it is fantastic to see both Depression and also Anxiety being covered in the media and getting the attention they truly deserve. But there are other areas of mental health and other illnesses getting little to no coverage. When we discuss mental health, Depression has become the most common topic. There is also a focus on the mental health of the youth but what about the elderly and everyone else in between?
It’s ok not to be ok – but is it ok to be psychotic? Is it ok to be maniac? Is it ok to have obsessive thoughts and compulsive activity? Is it ok to have poor self-image? Is it ok to experience delusions? IS IT? Ok calming down now! It’s great that mental health is coming out of the shadows as a topic of conversation. But we seem to have a long way to go before the likes of Borderline Personality Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for example, get their chance to change people’s perceptions and have some limelight.
I myself have had countless conversations where people (knowing that I speak publicly about my mental health) ask me about having depression, I don’t have depression. I have Schizophrenia. You wouldn’t ask someone with epilepsy how they manage their sugar levels. Or ask someone with a heart condition how they find the side effects of chemotherapy.
Depression and anxiety need to be talked about. They need to be covered in the media. But the media also needs to try to acknowledge the many other mental health problems and illnesses that have a massive impact on some people’s lives. The more people talking about mental health the better. Anyone who has the courage to publish that blog or post that Facebook status, you are brave and inspiring. You should be very proud to have taken that massive step.
How the general media chose to cover mental health is where the problem lies. More celebrities are sharing stories about dark times in their lives where they suffered from depression. A lot (but not all) of these experiences are in the past tense. This can be extremely encouraging and helpful to some but to others it can do harm rather than good. I’m happy that *insert name here* overcame a period of ill mental health by going on an enlightening yoga pilgrimage. That’s delightful. I’m glad that you haven’t had any more mental health problems since your decision to go on a four week detox that led to a healthier you, well done. For some who are stuck in a never ending cycle of relapse and recovery, who spend their lives taking one step forward and ten back, who take part in a fight with their minds on a daily basis indefinitely, this can be a bit of a kick in the teeth. For some there is no “cure” and no quick fix. The reality of recovery is often ugly, bleak and a constant struggle.
I find when I see some Facebook and Twitter posts regarding mental health, they all seem centered around depression. As much as I love to see people discussing mental health, something seems to be forgotten. Not everyone that has died by suicide suffered from depression. Yes many have but not everyone. There is a long list of mental health problems along with depression, a very long list.
Slightly veering towards off topic but a bit relevant; the legendary Robin William’s taking his own life. It sent shock waves through the world. We were very saddened by his passing. I still see pictures and posts about how he kept his battle with depression a secret. Even after his wife confirmed that he took his life because he was suffering from Diffuse Lewy Body Dementia (LBD). This effects thinking, memory and movement. The disease allegedly caused him to experience heightened levels of anxiety, delusions and impaired movement. His wife told People magazine “it was not depression that killed Robin, depression was one of let’s call it 50 symptoms and it was a small one”
From the bottom of my heart I sincerely hope I have not offended anyone with this post. It makes me truly happy to see the levels of awareness around Depression rising. More people are talking and more people are beginning to understand Depression for what it is, a terrifying, overwhelming, isolating, emotionally and physically draining illness. People are opening their eyes to the fact that depression is not a weakness and most definitely not a choice. My point is most certainly not – let’s stop talking about Depression. My point is let’s keep talking about Depression, let’s keep talking about mental health but let’s include all mental health problems. Hopefully Depression and Anxiety have become a starting point for open conversation and soon we will be seeing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bi-polar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Addiction, Anorexia, Binge Eating Disorder, Boderline Personality Disorder, Bulimia Schizoaffective Disorder etc all included in the conversation.