So it’s the Mental Health Awareness Month. Come on guys, let’s break the stigma! Don’t be ashamed to talk about mental illness, we’re sick, not weak!
Yeah that’s all well and good and everything. Heart and retweet. But this all seems to be referring to people who have a hard time with their mental health doing something. Talking about it, being open and honest. That’s a whole lot effort when you’re unwell. What about the healthy people?
The people who laud bloggers and advocates as brave and inspirational are usually people who are open about mental health awareness anyway. What about the people we should be really talking about, the healthy people who don’t believe that mental health disorders constitute as a real illness or completely cut out the friends and family members who dare to mention that by the way, I’m bipolar?
What about the ‘normal’ people, the prim and the proper who will say all the right things when asked but won’t support their friend in public just in case the word gets out that they are friends with a crazy person? Who will be quick to correct me when I use the word to say that I’m not crazy but will lie that I was in hospital recovering from a surgery?
What are they so afraid of? Oh yeah, that someone will think that they are crazy too.
Someone might ask what does it matter. Of course it does fucking matter. Not that I give a shit if they don’t read my blog but by completely ignoring it they show that the topic is something they’d rather not talk about.
I have no clue what my openness about my mental health has anything to do with anyone else but I know people who won’t come near the topic of mental health in public. Would they be as keen to steer clear from a blog about a physical illness?
Nobody gets to choose whether or not they have personal experiences with mental health issues. If you haven’t, that’s in no way against you but that’s why even more important that you listen to those who do.
The way I see it, mental health discrimination is just as invisible as the illness itself. Nobody will throw rocks at me for being depressed but will quietly and politely distance themselves from me. Who will say in private that they are all about mental health awareness, but won’t add me on Twitter out of fear what their prospective employers will say when scrolling through their social media.
“Yes, this all looks very good…Wait, what is this?! He follows a blog about depression? This must mean that they either have depression themselves, or are otherwise mental. Better not call him in for an interview.”
It’s so stupid that I’m on the brink of popping a blood vessel again. I’d like to say the same thing to these people as I did to my neighbour, who wouldn’t talk to me but would stare any chance she got once I got out after three months in hospital.
Don’t worry, you can’t catch it!
There are people who should be ashamed during the mental health awareness month, and they have nothing wrong with their mental health. If being an absolute cunt of a person doesn’t count. Why in the name of god should anyone feel encouraged to talk about their health if the prim and proper are going to keep going as they are anyway?
I’m not saying that things haven’t progressed. There certainly wasn’t a fucking mental health awareness month around when my schizophrenic grandmother was abandoned into an institution for her entire adult life by her family. But the fact that we don’t just lock up crazy people and forget about them anymore doesn’t mean that we have made enough progress. These days it’s less about the acts and more about the words and attitudes behind them.
“Why yes, mental health awareness is important. Terribly important,” they say before taking another sip of their tea. “But why don’t they just get over it?”
These are the people who should be discriminated against, not the fucking ill people.
“Maybe you should tone it down a bit,” one of them tells me, very softly and politely. “It’s just that not everyone understands.”
What an amazing logic! They are in the wrong, so I should change for their benefit. Sounds like every argument I’ve heard about sexual harassment, equality, the gay community and a whole fucklot of other things. If we approached every issue this way, the human race wouldn’t have invented even the fucking wheel.
I know that for a lot of people it also comes down to just not caring. People don’t like people who might be a lot of effort. It takes attention away from them and might require them to listen or even help. Of course they would love to, but…
But. There’s always the but. People are often empathetic to a point. If an illness, condition or an adverse situation fits within their incredibly black and white image of it, it’s ok. These are the people who will understand depression as inability to get out of bed, a rape as a stranger jumping out of the bushes as a girl walks home alone and discrimination as making people of different colours use different bathrooms.
What they will blissfully ignore is that what they are doing is also discrimination. And as long as they say the right words but don’t actually do anything it’s enough, right?
The mental health awareness month isn’t about anything revolutionary, it’s just about not being a piece of shit. Show some compassion to another human being. It’s not that fucking difficult.