mental health awareness week…
This is probably my third attempt at writing this post. I don’t know why I’m finding it so hard to talk about. But anyway, its Mental Health Awareness Week and I feel as though this is one week of the year I simply cannot ignore. I have suffered with intense anxiety for the past 4 and a half years now and feel quite strongly about the way mental health is treated, perceived and the stigma around it all.
I think its absolutely brilliant that as a society, we’re talking more openly about mental health/illness. However, there is still a huge stigma attached to it, that needs breaking down. The first thing to recognise is that there is a difference between mental ‘health’ and mental ‘illness’. Mental health is something everyone has, its just the health of your mental state. It can be good or bad. Mental illness however, is a diagnosed illness. Such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, BPD etc.
The two most popular mental illnesses are depression and anxiety, which most people are familiar with. Whether they have suffered themselves, or know somebody else who has. It is said that approximately 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year. Thats a fair few people, its not uncommon unfortunately. Although depression and anxiety are quite commonly known, there are a whole host of other mental illnesses out there that aren’t as well recognised.
There is OCD, phobias, panic disorder, PTSD, psychotic disorder, bipolar disorder, antisocial personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts and self-harm. These are the most well known but of course there is more, mental health is a very complex thing. Personally, I think these are mental illnesses that people understand less. Of course, if you’ve never experienced any of them in your life, they’re gonna be difficult to comprehend. Phobias for example (this is coming from an emetophobic over here), are a complex issue. Phobia’s are completely subjective and very personal. For example, I don’t have a phobia of spiders but have a massively irrational fear of vomit (emetophobia).
My anxiety stems from the emetophobia and I do find it extremely hard to talk about sometimes. Mostly because its not something many people know about. I worry that people will laugh at me, call me silly or one of the most common comments being ‘nobody likes sick’. There is such a huge difference between not liking something and being phobic.
I guess what I’m trying to say, is how personal mental illness can be. One person’s anxiety is so different to the next. Yes, it may fall under the same ‘umbrella term’, but its so personal. This goes for any mental illness, you may show symptoms of a specific illness but its still personal to you.
I think this is where the stigma still lies. In the working world, having a ‘bad mental health day’ isn’t really acceptable. Well, it depends on your employer I suppose but for the most part, you’re expected to turn up and do your job, despite how you’re feeling. And this isn’t something that is do-able for everyone, I really do think employers need to look into/understand how mental illness works, as do schools/uni’s etc.
I could carry on with this forever, but I think I’ll leave it there. I don’t think any one blog post can express how I feel towards mental health/illness. Its something very important to me and even if it doesn’t look like it, every day can be a battle. Remember to be kind to people, you never know what they’re going through.