Mental Health -A two way street

Mental health issues are a bastard and there’s no other way to describe it really. They interfere so much with daily life and are so incredibly misunderstood even in 2016 that it’s almost to the point of disgusting.

Suffering from poor mental health means that shit gets flung at you from just about everyone…….and even people who should know better.

Anyone suffering from a mental health disorder has probably had the old line of “Well you look ok?” lobbed at them. It’s a throwback to the old adage of “looks are everything” and we as a society are conditioned to judge on looks alone. Girls are raised and told that if they look thin and pretty then that’s all that matters (again a throwback to the days where getting a husband was everything). Men face pressures to be big and strong and often face ridicule for looking a certain way (or not looking a certain way…thanks He-man!) and of course the bottling up of feelings which according to the ‘alphas’ of the world, you should never, ever discuss.

People without mental health issues have never faced that particular black dragon in their lives and so their often misguided and occasionally cruel comments are hurtful. At the same time one can sort of understand why they would think this way as it’s hard to get a grasp on something you have never gone through yourself.

An even more sad fact is that support from fellow sufferers can also be a little few and far between.

Cancer victims are often told that although it’s important to deal with what you are going through it’s also just as important to not let it take over your life and I think it’s just as important for sufferers of mental health to adopt the same attitude.

I was watching an interview from 2011 with the fantastic Adrian Edminson a few weeks ago and he, in the most polite and charming way, declined to talk about his wife (Jennifer Saunders) cancer battle stating “…otherwise it becomes what you are!”.

That can equally be true of mental health.

If you have an issue where that is ALL you talk about 24/7 then it WILL consume you as you are putting it under a microscope. There should of course be a section of your life and daily routine devoted to discussing your mental health. That is without a doubt but if you let it eat your every waking moment then you will become blinded and sometimes spiteful.

I have a few people I know with mental health issues and  for various reasons I have a lot of empathy towards them. I know that sometimes even the smallest thing can make a difference to someone’s day such as a compliment, an agreement or just a couple of encouraging words can be enough. Even a like on Facebook can make someone feel better and it takes less energy to do that than to fart. Mental health is like a train on a track: it is an emotional powerhouse of immense proportions with a shitfuck of momentum yet all it takes is a little pull of a lever to send it in a completely different direction.

I’ve unfortunately also had the bad luck of trying to help people with metal health issues by listening but often they are so far lost to obsession they can’t see anyone else being as bad and I’ve had hurtful words thrown at me like “What the fuck do you know, you haven’t got any problems!” or “You don’t know what it’s like, how could you understand?”. What can be even worse is when you genuinely listen to someone and discuss their problems yet they don’t once ask you how you are doing. Even if you don’t want to talk, the gesture can often be enough for a lift.

Everyone has their own journey and everyone is dealing with different things on that journey. Constant assumptions from non-sufferers are bad enough but when it’s from one of your own kind then it can be even more devastating. Be a community, be a brother/sister and if someone asks you how you are doing then for fuck’s sake tell them, but don’t forget to ask them too (and make it genuine, not just an obvious token).

Of course there shouldn’t be a modus operandi for asking someone how they are just so you get a chance to talk as well but sharing back and forth is the most constructive thing you can do for both people involved as there is undoubtedly a sense of well being in giving as well as receiving.

Selfishly unloading then saying cheerio is just being a prick so don’t let your empathic eye go blind.


Author: Kitsune Mifune


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