We’re getting better at talking about mental health, and at taking it as seriously as a physical illness. (Mental health can have its own physical manifestations but that’s a post for another day.) However we still have a long way to go, and even though anxiety, suicide and depression in particular are talked about much more in the news and in television and film (13 Reasons Why, for a really recent example) there are still so many things that are missed or that still seem shameful or taboo to discuss with anyone but your therapist or closest friends.
I have many friends who struggle with their mental health, and experience anything from ADHD to sleep disorders to generalised social anxiety, so it’s a topic we tend to discuss fairly frequently. Following one of those discussions, I asked a group of women what they wish people knew about mental health, and their responses were pretty heart-wrenching to read:
I wish people understood that there are physical manifestations of mental health. My rejection sensitivity makes me disassociate and physically choke. 🙁
~ Jo (Twitter @SoJoGoes)
I wish people knew that anxious people would give anything to just “get over it” and “do it anyway.”
I wish people realised that I don’t talk about this for attention. I talk because it’s therapeutic and because I want to share my experiences. And because, sometimes, I need support.
I wish people understood ADHD is a real condition and giving people conspiracy lectures or how everyone is a little ADHD or ADHD is actually a gift is irritating when it has caused such a negative impact in areas of your life is more of a mental burden than encouraging.
I wish people understood that although I’m a big mental health care advocate and I’m not ashamed of my depression or anxiety or having to medicate, that I do have days where I wish I could be “normal” and not have to rely on medication.
I wish people knew that just because someone is “high-functioning”, it doesn’t mean that they are making their problems/struggles/illness up.
I wish people understood that “feeling sad” is not depression. When I feel sad, I go outside and take a walk in the sunshine. When I’m depressed, my brain tells me “No, don’t go outside. It won’t help. Nothing can help you” and I take a pill. ~Then~ I can go outside, read a book, do yoga… all those things people tell you to do “instead of taking medication.”
I wish people understood that even though I downplay or simply don’t even talk about my problems a lot of the time, it doesn’t mean I’m just pretending or exaggerating when I do decide to be more vocal about them. I have a hard enough time convincing myself that my feelings are valid, I don’t need others to further make me feel invalidated when I finally open up.
I wish people realised that hearing voices doesn’t make a person dangerous, and ‘psycho’ shouldn’t be an insult.
~ Louise (Blog: A Novel Haul)
I wish people knew how common it really is. Most of us are either struggling personally or have close family or friends who suffer.
Triggers below: suicide
When my mom first got really sick and I was 12, I had no one to turn to. Everyone called her crazy. No one would listen. I got made fun of when she started showing up at school acting out of reality. The stigma was real, and it caused me to shut up about it for the years the followed. Then when she died five years later everyone wondered what the “cause was” because she was so “healthy.” If only, someone had listened those years would have been far less painful.
Years after people frequently come to me with people in their lives who are suffering and want to discuss it. I wish more people were committed to stopping the stigma. I share my story now because there is nothing to be ashamed about.
I wish people understood that saying things like “omg I’m like soooo OCD about how I make my bed” isn’t okay.
I wish British people knew that saying “It was mental!” describing a hectic situation is not okay.
I wish that people would realise that it takes a lot for someone to ask for help, and that if that falls on deaf ears, it can be really detrimental to someone’s life.
~ Ricia (Instagram: @theonlyricia)
I really wish people understood the mental effort of even taking care of yourself. I know my pills help me, I know I’m supposed to brush my teeth, I know exercise makes a difference, but some days even getting up to get water to take my pills seems an insurmountable task.
And mine: I wish people knew how difficult it is to ask for help, and how it’s easier to put on a brave face on bad days.
So even though mental health awareness is gaining traction, there is a long way to go before society is a truly inclusive place. We can make small differences in our daily lives with a little extra thought, which is a wonderful start. What do you wish people knew about mental health?