A few months back I put a picture on my Facebook of the tattoo I have on my forearm. The tattoo has a heartbeat and the quote “Best way out is through” as a personal reminder of my mental health and how it’s made me a terrible person at times but a great person at other times. I said in the post that I wanted to be more vocal towards mental health to help myself and help others around me.
Since that post and the nearly 100 likes on it, I’ve not said a damn thing. Why should I? Why should we be talking about mental health?
I’ve acknowledged my condition, contributed to any stigma surrounding it by using negative language we all use, often describing myself as someone with “mental health struggles” or saying I “suffer” That’s one reason why we shouldn’t talk about mental health. Because we don’t use the right language, but here’s my big point.
I’ve admitted I have a mental health condition, a few know more information than that and probably two know the full story (one of them is my former therapist). I have not once felt as though anyone has treated me different, I’ve not once felt as though I’ve been held back or judged for the conditions I have, nor do I feel that they need to be spoken about. I’ve told people, got a permanent reminder on my arm and that’s where the conversation stops.
Now I can’t speak for everyone around the world dealing with mental health, but from my experiences what is there to talk about? Surely talking about it and using people as examples is only going to do bad, I’m at peace with myself, yes I still have days where I wish I wasn’t around, but the last thing I need is people trying to justify themselves to say they don’t discriminate or judge against mental health by using me (or anyone else) as an example. That’s only going to present the risk that I do feel like a freak and that I do have a condition to be ashamed of.
I don’t feel anywhere near as ashamed or embarrassed as I used to (I still do but that’s my only person thoughts) so why should we talk about something that isn’t actually viewed in a negative light especially when there are real topics to talk about which do cause injustices through discrimination.
I’m 23-years old and I’ve had depression as long as I remember, most recently it’s been the anxiety that has crippled me from time to time. I’m in no way brave for saying that, you wouldn’t call me brave for saying I have size 9 feet so why am I brave for stating other facts about myself?
There comes a point where talking about mental health just becomes another excuse to open up a discussion that paints the speaker in a positive light. “Look at me, I do not discriminate.” The best I can compare it to is seeing people take offense on behalf of someone, most the time it’s again to show that they don’t discriminate.
I also ask myself why I felt I had to open up about my depression and anxiety? I mean I only really told one person who isn’t a medical professional the full scale of things, and in no way has that defined who I am so it’s on all of us to stop any sort of real stigma brewing. The only time I’ve ever felt victimised by mental health it was because I played the part of the victim to myself.
Mental health is real, it is serious and in no way should be viewed as a fashion statement like you could argue it has become to some people. Mental health is not a bad thing, and I’ve never seen it viewed that way. Talking about provisions to help those in serious need is a conversation to have, but not by you and me, but by those who can make a change. Talking about mental health to end the stigma is only going to create a bigger issue, so for now I’m going to continue to be the way I am. I have a mental health condition, I’m not broken so please don’t try and fix me.