So today (February 1st) is ‘Time to talk’ day here in the UK. A day which encourages talking about mental illness. I wish we didn’t have to need this day, but we do, and so lets talk mental illness.
So often these sorts of days will predominantly talk about depression, and anxiety. Whilst they are debilitating conditions that certainly are still stigmatised due to them being mental illnesses, they are slowly becoming less stigmatised, as they are talked about more. Yet when days like this are predominantly talking about depression and anxiety we alienate so many people.
Yet also even when depression, and anxiety are talked about so much is actually not talked about.
So often we do not talk about how depression can mean people don’t wash for weeks, how it can mean you can’t get out of bed, the binge eating or the hardly eating, locking ourselves away from the world, not wanting to see people, hardly sleeping or constantly sleeping yet still exhausted, physical pain and other physical symptoms, people who can hide their depression with a smile but may breakdown and cry in the toilets at lunch.
We don’t talk about anxiety causing people to lock themselves away, terrified to come outside, how we feel we have to make up excuse after excuse to not come when the reality is anxiety yet that answer is not often good enough, anxiety causing physical symptoms, how anxiety stops people from eating, or doing so much.
So we have a long way to go to talk about depression and anxiety more honestly.
Yet at least we are talking about them quite regularly, but other mental illnesses are so often not discussed, not talked about.
So talk about psychosis, personality disorders, OCD, intrusive thoughts, PTSD, flashbacks, mania, mood swings, hallucinations, bipolar, scizoaffective disorders, schizophrenia, self harm (and not just in relation to teenage girls) suicidal thoughts and suicide, dissociation
I am someone who is affected by depression, and anxiety, but also by many (in fact most) of the above that is barely talked about. When these things are hardly mentioned, hardly talked about by just your average person, as if they do not exist I feel alienated, alone. I feel like a fraud, I feel like people think I don’t exist. I feel like I couldn’t just talk to someone about what I think and hear, and how my brain works.
But also on this day, and all other days lets not be always putting the onus on mentally ill people to talk. Those of you who are not mentally ill talk and show your support.
My partner Evan said this and has allowed me to share the quote: “it needs to be talked about, by people whom are not affected. Thus breaking down barriers and making there not be such a negative stigma”
Also never pressurise a mentally ill person to talk, whether personally or in general on days like today. Pressurising us to talk in either situation can be very harmful and make things worse for us. Don’t pressurise us to talk to professionals, because for many people that is not a safe or accessible option. The isses surrounding that is a whole other blog post, however, one thing I want to say in this post is some of us have horrible trauma related to mental health professinals or services, some of us come out of inpatient admissions on psychiatric wards with more trauma than when we went in, and therefore more added to our mental illnesses.
Talk about that as well.
So yes talk about mental illness today, especially non mentally ill folk, talk about it, but talk about it in a caring and suportive way.
Remember though depression, and anxiety are not the only mental illnesses, and only talking about them so often alienates so many of us, leaving us to feel alone and not wanted.
So take away these 3 things from this post
- Mental illness doesn’t only equal depression, and anxiety
- All mental illnesses, and all symptoms should be talked about
- Do not put the responsibility to talk about mental illness onto mentally ill people. We are exhausted due to being mentally ill, having to constantly educate or be expected to talk, especially on days like today is exhausting.