So I’ve had a couple of people approaching me very sensitively in private, suggesting that maybe speaking so openly about my mental health difficulties with my own face and name isn’t such a good idea.
Not that there is anything wrong with it, of course not! They are all for mental health awareness! It’s just that people might not understand. These concerned souls are just thinking about my future. My CV. My career prospects.
Because what will people think?
You can tell that these people know me pretty well, as I do cry into my pillow every night worrying what some knobhead thinks of me. But let’s pretend for a moment that this nonsense is worth discussing. If I had a physical illness such as cancer, it is far more likely that I would be hailed for being so ‘brave.’ And yes, cancer is fucking horrible and being open about your illness IS brave.
But why is it different when it’s a mental illness?
Why, on the Lord’s Good Year 2018, when the world has apparently gone oh-way-too-understanding about everything, is me speaking openly about depression any different to someone talking about a physical illness?
One in four people experience mental health difficulties at some point in their life. One in four.
Why, in the Lord Buddha’s name, should this have anything to do with my abilities and talents as a human being? We might as well cut out a quarter of the whole fucking population then.
Oh yeah, because some healthy people might find it uncomfortable. I’m terribly sorry that my illness is such an inconvenience to you. As I did set out to fuck up my brain chemistry with you especially in mind. Although I do enjoy making people uncomfortable in casual conversations. We depressed people have to take joy where we find it, you see.
But in all seriousness.
I lost over a year of my life to an illness. And I just don’t mean time-wise. My life will never be the same again. I have lost opportunities, relationships and prospects, some of which I will never be able to attain again, and not because I pissed things up the wall myself. It was because I got ill.
To me that’s pretty fucking unfair, no matter what the illness in question is.
Nobody, nobody wants to be ill. Nobody asks to be ill. The last thing they need is some dickhead’s prejudice to deal with on top of that as well.
So let them talk. I don’t give a flying fuck if you shout it from the rooftops. Ida Väisänen is fucking mental. Because I’m not scared, nor am I ashamed.
I have no reason to be. It could happen to anyone. Including you.
But why does it have to be me who has to try to break the stigma one blog post at a time? What makes me so god damn special?
One thing that stops me from being embarrassed, scared or ashamed is the fact that I very nearly lost my life to this illness. I’m alive. Some people who have gone through the same are not so lucky, and they can’t give their side of the story. So it’s up to us who live to do it.
So ask me. Ask me anything. Anything at all. What were your first symptoms? What do you think caused it? What was it like being in hospital for several months? What did you do all day? Why do you cut yourself? What did it feel like being suicidal? What went through your head when you wrote the note? Ask me and I’ll tell you because I’ve got nothing to lose.
I almost lost my life. This is what people seem to forget. I could have died. My parents could have lost their only child to this illness. Not all of us get to come back from the abyss. The very least I can do is to try and help other people.
Put it this way: If me answering questions that are deeply personal and telling about the darkest and most desperate period of my life honestly and openly gives even one person the nudge to get help, it’s fucking worth it.
Boy do I have stories to share. I once had a fucking GP say to me: “You don’t look depressed.”
I’m now speaking out so nobody else has to hear that ignorant and idiotic sentence ever again.
I don’t have many talents in life. This is what people often say in hopes of fishing compliments. Oh, but you’ve got plenty of talents! I’m being serious. I honest to god don’t. I can’t even tie my shoelaces. But I can write. That is one thing depression didn’t get to take from me. At times it felt like I lost my personality to it but this one thing I got to keep.
If me using the one talent I got can stop another person from getting as ill as I was, lift a fear, encourage them to speak up even anonymously or give them comfort on their painfully long road to recovery, why wouldn’t I do just that? It might not help anyone but I might as well try.
It’s better than me just burying my head in the sand and pretend that the last eighteen months of my life didn’t happen. It did happen. It all happened and there isn’t a doctor or a prescription in the world than can change it otherwise. I still tried to top myself. I was still at the loony bin. I could lie to myself and others that my experiences didn’t deeply affect me and permanently change me as a person. It sure did turn my values, thoughts and beliefs completely on their head.
We are talking about an extremely common, potentially terminal illness. There is absolutely no reason for there to be any type of shame, embarrassment or prejudice attached to it. It’s completely illogical, unfair and just plain cruel. If me being open about my experiences without shame can offer someone insight that might change their view on mental illness, why wouldn’t I at least try?
So why am I doing this?
Why the fuck not?
It might as well be me.