So it’s mental health awareness week. I’ve been thinking about what I can post to be part of this worldwide movement, but I’ve been really struggling. And speaking to someone earlier today has helped me clarify why.
It’s because it seems so reductive to draw attention to an international, perpetual crisis for a week. One week of 52 we hear media outlets championing the causes of those struggling with mental illness.
For one week the spotlight is shone on those whose battle is never ending and brushed aside or away altogether, not given the funding or support it needs to help them exist in equity with those that don’t struggle.
And that’s not okay!
Sure, there are plenty of you wonderful people who share posts and photos regularly to show you are supportive and inclusive, and for that I thank you.
Here’s my biggest problem with it all though.
There is almost like a disinfectant affect around mental illnesses.
Because it seems to me when mental illness doesn’t come in a nice little package, we don’t know what to do with it.
When someone with depression uses substances to self medicate, suddenly they become an addict, they become ‘untreatable’ and ‘deserve’ what they get.
When someone with schizophrenia stands shouting at cars, half naked in the snow, they get laughed at and mocked, shoved in a police van, or abandoned to themselves altogether.
When someone with Emotional Dysregulation Disorder (formerly borderline personality disorder) attempts suicide ‘half heartedly’ they are attention seeking and pathetic.
When someone with attachment disorder sends one too many texts looking for reassurance and support they are labelled ‘psycho as and ‘crazy’.
But THAT’s the reality.
Mental Health isn’t just anxiety and depression, as crippling and dangerous as they are, it’s bigger than that, and we HAVE to accept that someone exhibiting behaviour that isn’t ‘normal’ isn’t crazy, psycho, attention seeking, skanky, or mad.
They are struggling.
So please. This mental health awareness week. Educate yourself and remember not being okay comes in many many forms. And don’t stop campaigning for better support, access and facilities for those who need it. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate, everyone is at risk.
Be kind to yourselves, and each other