There’s a horrid stigma attached the phrase ‘mental health problems.’ Undeniably the attitude towards it has drastically changed for the better over the last decade; people are more aware of it now and see that it is a real health issue – you could go as far as to say it’s a disability. But there are those who aren’t understanding; that pass judgement or mutter the words ‘he/she needs to just get on with it.’ To those people I ask this: would you tell a cripple to get up and walk?
Such a bold comparison will likely provoke negative reactions and cries of protest from some people. If a person is crippled its not something they can help or simply get over; and you’re right, it isn’t. It’s a horrible affliction but so is depression. Just because it doesn’t manifest its-self through physical symptoms does not mean it doesn’t affect your daily life. It can cripple you mentally; leave you bed-bound for weeks, months. A sinking feel that leaves you limping from one crisis to another.
No one wants to feel like that; no-one wants to endure that constant paranoia and nagging voice of self-doubt. So why do some people believe that it’s all in your head? Possibly the way its portrayed in the media. When you’re famous any incident or health condition is obviously magnified by the media but its having a drip-down effect and those every day people that suffer from it are being mocked and met with disbelief. So why are we still getting these negative reactions? Is it born out of contempt for the famous? These conditions aren’t exclusive to celebrities. Yet the public view seems to be that depression/bipolar is mainly a fashion trend adored and adopted by the famous: “You’re nothing without a little bipolar, darling.”
Around 4,400 people commit suicide each year in England – that’s one death every two hours. The self-harm statistics for the UK are also alarmingly high. In fact, we have the highest rates in Europe: 400 per 100,000 population. These facts and figures are standing in a crowded room screaming at the top of their lungs and are just ignored and brushed off. The internet has opened up a gallery of photos and stories about self-harm, depression and bipolar, yet they are still branded as a mere trend. Maybe a better view to have is this: When someone self-harms or talks about suicide maybe they reckon that it shows they’re unhappy; lets people notice physical signs of their struggle. Yet what reaction are they met with? They’re branded attention seekers. Well, did it ever occur to you that the reason they’re seeking attention is because they’re in pain?
I’ve written this because it’s only recently I’ve been able to function like an actual human, purely because I’ve changed medication. I’m not plagued with those thoughts; the temptation to hurt myself is gone, but that feeling still lingers. I just want people to be aware that patience is required, as well as empathy, in order to pull someone back from the edge.