Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Misconceptions around mental health

There are so many misconceptions around mental health so I really want to address the big ones.  Now I warn you now, I'm not setting out to make this a really long post but I've heard a lot of crap in my time!

I did a whole research project on it for my EPQ (the equivalent of the first year of A levels) so I know what I'm talking about it and seeing as 1 in 4 people are suffering with mental health problems this is serious shit that needs to be addressed.

  • Depression and sadness are the same
If I hear one more person tell me how sad and depressed they are I am going to scream.  Its a fucking illness.  Yes, its not like the flu but it is still a diagnosable condition (and I'm pretty sure I just made that word up but I'm sticking with it) which affects all parts of life.  Yes, you feel sad but it also causes insomnia, fatigue (extreme tiredness), skin problems, hair loss and can be a contributing factor to developing other conditions be it mental or physical.

  • "But you don't look sick!"
If I hear this again I swear I will punch them in the face.  I get this all the time whether its to do with my chronic illnesses or my depression.  Just because you hold it together in public does not mean you are okay.  For me, if I cry in front of you then you should be fucking honoured because I don't show you I'm struggling until I really trust you and if I talk to you about it then be more honoured than if your knighted because I don't talk to a lot of people about it.  Especially not face to face.

  • It's a sign of weakness
Don't you dare let anyone tell you this!  For a starter everyone responds to traumatic event in different ways and second of all that isn't always the cause.  There are thought to be about 4 overall causes and without pulling out my biology and sociology knowledge because I can't be arsed and I'm still on my holiday they are illness, trauma, environmental stress and hereditary.  This means anything can cause it.  It doesn't make you weak.

  • It's all in your head
No.  No it's not.  As I said, it's more than being a bit emotional, it affects the whole body.  Enough said.

  • Real men don't get depression
Is it any fucking wonder that the biggest cause of death in men under 40 is depression when society has an attitude like this?!  If we really want this to change we have to change our attitude.

  • Self harm is for attention seekers
Can I just say when your trying to recover and someone tells you that funnily enough it doesn't help.  It's not and for the majority of people it's something they are ashamed of and they want to hide, I know I did.  Wearing long sleeve tops in summer, getting changed in the toilets for P.E. so no one saw my scars, I did everything I could.  Now I speak out about it between relapses to help others.  And to those who did and now are ashamed of your scars, don't be.  They show the shit you went through and that you survived and that's something to be proud of.

  • Self harm leads to suicide
I think with Oscar Pistorius I think this is something that needs addressing.  Often self harm is used to prevent suicide.  It's used as a coping mechanism for those that just want to be in control of something or feel numb and just need the pain or for many other reasons, not because they are trying to die.  Now I'm passed it I can say that yes I self harmed for different reasons each time and I did have suicidal thoughts but they weren't linked.

I'm really sorry this was so long!

For anyone interested in learning more there are some documentaries I love by celebrities which really are accurate and give a personal insight which I actually used in my research project and trust me, they are much more interesting than the dozens or academic research papers I read!

Professor Green: Suicide And Me
This ones all about depression and suicide, the causes and support.  One of my favourites.

Tulisa: My Mum And Me
A brutally honest documentary on being a young carer and the effects on the mental health.  Warning: includes discussions about drugs and self harm in depth.  Could be a trigger.

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