Having finally caught up with my politics stuff, I wanted to talk about something that Alastair Campbell spoke about on This Week; (a political satire programme, on after Question Time) mental health and depression. I can hear a few gasps around the room, but hopefully I can hear a few people getting comfortable too…
1 in 4 people will, at one point in their lives suffer with mental health issues. I heard a comment from someone (I think he was American, but I won’t hold that against him) that he thought it was all rubbish and a made up English thing. And I found it a crying shame that people like that exist, that people like that can so easily and quickly dismiss the fact that mental health issues can be just as bad as something which you can see ~ in my opinion, many times worse.
Let’s face facts, many people cannot bring themselves to admit they have mental health issues; scared of what people will say. How they will be treated, and how others we deal with it… we have seen the adverts where the guy asks how his work colleague is after being off for a while, it shows the many reactions that the guy who asked could get. It is one of them things we don’t like to talk about because we don’t know how to handle it, we don’t know what to say.
To hear Alastair talk about it openly makes a difference, to hear that politicians go through what I have been though means a lot more than someone who pretends they understand and care. More celebrities should talk about it though, I know many have no problem these days admitting they have been bullied; so why not that they have gone through some mental health issues? Of course I know why, because so many people still see it as a weakness.
I have suffered with severe clinical depression for far too many years. I know that being bullied did not help, but I am certain it is far more than that. I have tried to get help many times, most times result in either a “quick fix” which fails to go the distance; or end up causing rifts between my parents and I ~ sounded like the Queen there didn’t I… oooo get me ~ which is the one certain and constant thing I have always had in my life, and the one thing I get very defensive over! I have tried taking tablets to help me, but I could not get on with them firstly; but also feel like they are not “dealing” with the problems and only masking them…
It is hard to explain to someone who has never “been there” just how it feels when you have depression, or indeed any mental health problem… how can you tell someone that you are sick, when they cannot see anything wrong with you? There are no bits hanging off or lumps and bumps, there is nothing to show people; especially if they are strangers! Now it is true to say that family and close friends can usually tell when things are wrong, but how do you show someone like the job centre just how you feel?
Now I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I can assure readers that the one thing you should not do; is follow the path that I took. The one other thing sure to unsettle people more than telling them you have a mental health problem, is to tell them you tried; on more than one occasion to kill yourself. There is nothing quicker than those words to get many a friend running from the hills, or to send chills down the spine of people when you tell them that. I don’t choose to tell people because I am ashamed of what I tried to do, I am unsure of how you will deal with it if I tell them I was (and still am sometimes) that weak that I could not cope or deal with life.
The stigma attached to mental health issues are a hard one to overcome, Alastair is correct about that. He is also correct that more politicians and celebrities should be more forthcoming when it comes to dealing with their own issues, not just for themselves; but also others who suffer too. It is not a sign of weakness to be diagnosed with cancer, diabetes or heart related conditions; there is no stigma attached to bullying or abuse. All those things are terrible to not only live through, but also deal with; why should mental health issues & depression be any different? There has been much good work done to highlight the problems people with disabilities and special needs face, people are beginning to understand just what these people go through; so why can we not do the same with mental health problems?
The only difference between the two sets of people is that you can see any physical differences someone might have.
I would like to see a world where everyone can live in a safe; fair & free open society. Where we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community; in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity... in other words, where we are all free to be who we are; and to be respected as human beings regardless of race, religion or our health related issues.