Yesterday I read an article that a friend had ‘shared’ on Facebook.
It was about the ‘hat’ of depression – I’ll link it here. It resonated with me on many levels – the notion that depression – or any mental health issue for that matter – is quite often invisible to others. Then, when I realised I knew the guy who had written the article, I was challenged in my thinking again. ‘I never would have known’…. Ain’t that the classic saying we hear over and over again. As Jock says in his writing, it’s not like a broken bone or a common cold where everyone can see the symptoms and act accordingly to help you. It is much more complex and individualised in showing the signs.
I remember a conversation I had about mental health and treatment about a year ago. I remember it so clearly. It was the lead up to Christmas, I was away on holidays with my family, and we were at a pub having a few drinks with friends. Now, believe me, I recognise that everyone has their own life story; everyone has their issues and you cannot always compare situations. However, I do know that this discussion took place between myself and a highly educated woman of my parents age. I expected better; more compassion; less ignorance.
This woman argued about how society and individuals inflict mental health issues; that todays generation is ‘privileged’ and that – to the effect of – mental health medication is an unnecessary excuse; that everyone is on it.
I do not dispute that perhaps todays society has some input – look at Instagram, for example. We are constantly comparing each others lives and perfectly staged photographs. Look at Text Messages – I’m sure half of the cruel messages sent via a screen would never be said to a persons face back when phones did not exist.
Then one may take into account today’s economy and society structure – we are living in a society that it is becoming increasingly harder to buy a first home, for example; there is almost an expectation that when you finish school, you will go to University and get a degree if you wish to make the big bucks (I’m sure there are jobs where there is a potential to earn excellent money without a degree, but to me, it seems for the most part, we are becoming a formal employment sector) – and Uni isn’t for everybody.
Then, on the other hand, I’m certain that we have it much easier than our predecessors. It’s all about the perspective.
However, easy or hard, mental health is a real thing. With real aetiology and real physiological findings.
You want to argue that your son, your brother, your best friend, that stranger at the coffee shop must suffer alone, without any help? You want to look me in the eyes and tell me that I inflicted anxiety upon myself? That I shouldn’t have sought help to balance my Serotonin levels during a dark couple of months? Whilst you continue to take your Type 2 Diabetic medication – a disease which is one hundred percent lifestyle and choice inflicted?
How does that argument add up?
How is taking Fluoxetine – one small pill – for anxiety or depression any different – any worse – than injecting yourself on the regular with your Insulin? And why, when I reach out to friends to offer help, do they refuse to consider medication for mental health; why does it feel like if we medicate, we must be seriously messed up?
Because of your stigmas and false ideas.
It’s an argument that I feel very passionately about, and this discussion went on for quite some time. To my dismay, I don’t feel like I made any groundwork with this woman.
Perhaps when we drop the stigma around mental health and stop leaving so many of our loved ones in the dark, alone. We need to begin a conversation that, I can only hope, will result in sufferers feeling safe, accepted, and heck, maybe medication needs may even decrease.
Your ignorance is no excuse.