Thursday, 19 May 2016

OLIVIA: PLEASE DON'T JUDGE

Reader Olivia writes a heartfelt and powerful piece on lifting the taboos on all kinds of mental health issues in this #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek... a must-read.

Olivia says:
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and it is a subject very close to my heart, so I thought I would post about it. Mental health - everyone has it, but when it is not so 'healthy' or even what is considered 'normal,' it becomes an extremely stigmatised subject. To post this at all on social media is extremely scary for me, in case I am labelled 'attention seeking' - the go-to words for anyone who actually dares to speak about their mental illnesses. This is what needs to change; this is what we need to raise awareness for.

If you had broken your leg, nobody would be surprised if you spoke openly about it - so why should someone suffering with depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, a personality disorder, whatever it may be... feel ashamed to talk about their pain? Trust me, mental pain is just as real as physical pain, and should be treated with the same care and empathy. The stigma surrounding many mental health disorders is toxic, and can prevent many people from getting the help they so desperately need.

Talking about mental health is the first step to improving mental health. If you were in hospital for a physical health issue, would you feel ashamed of it? Of course not. If I told you I was writing this post sat on a sofa in a psychiatric hospital, would that shock you? It shouldn't. Should I be ashamed of being in hospital for my mental health? Because I'm not ashamed.

The sooner the stigma around mental health is erased, the better. The more people talk about it, the less taboo it will become. So, this Mental Health Awareness Week, please do not judge the people who are brave enough to post or speak about their struggles. Instead, offer them your love, care and support, because together we can end the stigma surrounding mental health. Thank you for reading this.

Cathy says:
Olivia's words are so heartfelt and strong. She's right - it is time to stop judging others and instead reach out and try to understand and support those going through difficult times. Have YOU or anyone close to you suffered from mental health issues? COMMENT BELOW to have your say.

6 comments:

  1. Such a brave post! Well done, Olivia for speaking out. I have just been diagnosed with anxiety and depression and am now on medication and seeing a counsellor. It's been a scary time but I am starting to see a light now.

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  2. Personally, I think that mental pain is worse than physical pain. Physical pain passes in most cases. The demons in your head are always there lurking in the background. The smallest thing can trigger them to pop out and can send you into a downward spiral of depression and the whole thing, of trying to pick yourself up and carry on starts all over again.

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  3. I agree. Why, when I speak openly about my depression or anxiety, am I an attention seeker? I don't want sympathy or attention. Depending on who I'm speaking to, I want one of 3 things:
    1) medical help if I'm talking to a psychiatrist
    2) to reassure friends or strangers who are going through a similar thing - I'm not dead and I'm useless so I know others can get through it with the right support
    3) to raise awareness. Sure, people know about mental illness but few people are willing to actually listen when people speak. Yes, it's a tough subject but the stigma will never be broken down if we are constantly kept silent out of fear of making others uncomfortable or being called names or generally being ignored (being ignored doesn't sound so bad but it can be absolutely destroying when you desperately need help and people are like "Nah, you're fine". If I was lying there with both legs missing, no one would think I was fine, why should it be different when a huge chunk of my life is missing? Why should I have to deal with the loss of motivation, self confidence, energy, any single grain of happiness, belief in things ever getting better, etc just because others can't see it?). The brain is part of the body. It deserves as much care as everything else. No one would feel ashamed asking for medical help for a cut to the head or another visible injury. The same should be true for mental illness.

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  4. That is very good. I have mental health issues very unfortunately and it stopped me doing school and education and lost my friends and lots more and have to go to appointments a lot now but I'm so grateful for the help. I feel judged and sometimes people don't believe me and think I am overreacting because I look fine and happy and my life is good. I'm not ashamed but I do feel a bit shy about talking about it to people. I really wish there was more acceptance of mental health

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  5. Raising awareness is really important. You can walk around with a mental health issue and people don't notice. But if you don't reach out and get help, than it will come noticeable. Weather its depression, anxiety or an eating disorder, etc, there is always, ALWAYS, some way people will notice. And yet, people ignore it. They cant face it. Its too scary. But imagine if you are the one suffering? Its so hard.
    I have suffered mental health issues.
    And I know that speaking out is the best thing. Don't leave yourself there. So step up, it takes courage, but if we work together, we can make this into a world wide awareness.

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