Just because you suffer with mental illness doesn’t mean you’re ‘mental’

So, this week has really got me thinking about mental health. Not the real bad types, but your general run of the mill depression and anxiety. The thing that’s funny about mental health is, that actually it’s probably more mental if you are fortunate enough that you haven’t, at some point, suffered from it yourself.

Now I don’t know what it says about the company that I keep, but I would say that almost everyone I have associated myself with, or gotten to a stage where we Confide in one another has indeed fitted into the ‘category’ of having had mental health issues at some stage. Like if we talked maths, probably about 80% of people I know have told me that at one point or another they have felt ‘depressed’ or ‘anxious’. It’s probably because life throws a whole load of really wank shit at you when you ‘get big’. I love a good meme me and I read my favourite one yet this week which read Dear teenagers worrying about life being shit. You’ve only touched the tip of its dick”. Never a truer meme. No one really prepares you for adult life properly. The older you get the more challenges will come your way, really it’s just how you deal with them that count.

I myself have had times in my life where I have found myself feeling incredibly low. When I was younger, and more idiotic – I used to cope with my occasional bouts of depression in a much worse way. For the first time ever when I was in college I decided to share my experiences with people around me. I remember absolutely shitting oneself when I had to admit to people that I wasn’t always ok. It was fairly well received and from that day forward I’ve been lucky enough that the people I surround myself with have always had my back. It set the tone for how I felt it best to discuss my low times. That is in the most nonchalant, in your face honesty, brash and unembaraased way possible. As I have referenced in a previous blog a friend once said to me “how are you?” To which I responded “well, you know, every time I get in my car this thought to drive it into a wall keeps entering my head. I mean, naturally I’m never going to do it, or I wouldn’t be telling you now – but other than that it’s been sound. So would you like tea or cowffee?”. That friend cried. I told them to get a grip and that the feelings I occasionally had were actually not that far from normal and that I will continue to smash the shit out of life as I always have and then we moved on. I LOVE that I can be so honest with the people around me and that we can move on from it so quickly. God if we couldn’t, I don’t think I’d tell the buggers anything. No one wants to talk about that one week they had where they let life get the better of them like it’s some sort of cling on, incurable STD. We wanna forget about that shit, like now.

I mean don’t get me wrong. I’m not ‘mental’. I’m fairly normal, as much as you can be when you’re surrounded by the worlds best, most stupid, silly,  group of people you could get your hands on over the years. Call it a collection…

I’m very lucky that in the last 10 years I have actually felt like a pretty bad ass mother fucker. I’ve been through some tough times, as we all have and been more wet lettuce, but I’ve learned from these times. I’ve on the whole, wobbled my head, and sorted my shit out until calm was restored. I mean don’t get me wrong I’ve had a good wallow for a week or two before I recognized that actually you can’t let that feeling of not wanting to do anything, see anyone, or having the motivation to even get up in a morning take over. I pride myself on my strength and ability to pull myself out of those darker places like I’m owning life.

I think I have always found myself feeling comfort that when I meet new people and they eventually share their experiences with me that they too have had some difficult times. I also pride myself on the fact that I’m the guy they come to in those times of need. My honest, soft, but no nonsense sort your shit out approach has always been a hit and has gotten some of my nearest and dearest to wobble their own heads back into the realms of sanity!

These last few weeks I’ve realised some extra stuff about mental health though, some of which has even shocked me.. I should stress that these are my own, as always honest opinions and by no means are they the right or wrong way to think about mental health… I mean, you know me, I like living on the edge.

The first is my patience. Having been there myself there is still NOTHING I find more unattractive than self pity. I don’t care how low you are, or why you got there – there has to come a time when you ‘sort your shit out’. Mental health is like a cloud. A dark one that seeps over until you feel like it’s too rainy to go outside. Yes, you will feel like absolute dog turd for a week or two. In fact, you don’t generally see it coming until you realize when your phone beeps you’re purposely ignoring it, that you’ve not made an effort to make yourself look nice for a week or that actually your legs are way more hairy than is even acceptable. But when you have that moment of realization, what are you doing about it. There is no ‘cure’ as such, but there are things that you can do to make it better. Until you recognize your destructive behaviour , you can’t fix it , but if you let it carry on, without fighting back you might as well get the straight jacket out now. You should own your mental health, not let it own you.

I find personally that anxiety is a very different beast than depression, but there is still some things that can be done to make it better, seeking a distraction, – cuddle, or just walking to the top or a hill or driving into the middle of no where listening to only the spice girls. There is always at least one thing we can do to find that head space we need, it’s just about taking the bull by the horns and getting it done.

There is nowt to be ashamed of either way, but there is a real strength of character in your ability to recognize, and nip in the bud your own feeling of helplessness. It is possible, to make positive steps – whether that be medication, making yourself not look like shit for the day and actually washing your grubby hair, or just realigning your focus for each day to a more positive mindset. What ever it may be I do believe it’s possible. I know people say you can’t help having mental illness, and the REALLY bad ones this may be true of, however, i genuinely believe that there are things we can do to improve our own situations and whether you choose to let it take over, or you do what ever the fuck you can to feel better shows what sort of person you are.

I believe there is a fine line between sharing your challenges, and attention seeking. Now this ones a controversial one. Even as someone who has suffered myself, I really feel like some people think mental health is just for attention. It’s usually the people who have been lucky enough to escape the clutches of any ‘illness’ as such, who believe this. But, at times, I have met the occassional person who has within 5 minutes of meeting me, have told me that they self harm, or have made suicide attempts, and that they are weak people. These are the people I can’t help but feel actually LOVE the attention that mental illness brings them. I honestly believe, that it is such an intimate thing to share, that anyone who brandishes it about must have some element of wanting people to feel sorry for them. I mean, I did say that this was controversial but I cannot shake that feeling, or being annoyed by those people. It gives mental health a bit of a bad name generally. Tell your nearest and dearest, not every guy you meet on a night out.

The newest of my realisations is how people talk about it. As I say, I’ve been very well supported through my whole life. I could count the people who I have met who you could describe as incredibly lucky,  for not having any idea what you’re even talking about when it comes to mental health , on literally one hand. Now there’s some situations in life which it’s ok for someone  to talk about themselves in a particular way , but it’s totally not acceptable for you to talk about them in that way. Take for example the absolutely (in my opinion) disgusting ‘N’ Word that our favourite rappers brandish about like it’s their actual name. Now THAT shit is absolutely not acceptable for anybody in the right mind to call ANYONE,  but if they want to use it themselves then that’s fine. If I do share my challenges with you when I feel them , I’m likely to do it in a “I’m fucking offf the Rictar scale insane” “I’ve lost the plot , cookoo” kind of way. But, jeez Louise, it is not ok for you to refer to me as ‘unstable’ ‘mental’ or use any of the in your face, offensive ways I choose to describe myself. When it comes from me that’s because I’m choosing to be nonchalant about it, when it comes from you it’s just rude! Haha. It’s a really unfair way of expecting people to act really. I mean it’s one rule for me and another for them – but telling me I’m mental – isn’t going to go down THAT well. So just be mindful about how ‘insane’ you tell someone they are after they’ve shared their intimate thoughts with you. It took bollocks , so probably just reassure me I’m ‘normal’ than make me think I need locking up for a week or two in a padded room. You’re the weird one here, for not even understanding what mental health feels like, not the other way around! Ha.

With this realisation I’ve had to learn to have a two way level of patience. They need patience with you, and you need patience with them. It’s hard, but it’s a two way street as always.

Lastly, it’s not a choice. People don’t wake up and decide to feel sorry for themselves. It’s an actual ‘illness’. When you start thinking about it like that it’s easier for the non sufferers to understand. That doesn’t make you weak, and it should never be viewed as that. Yes, it’s up to you what you do about it and  you can’t let it take over, but that doesn’t mean you chose to feel wank of purpose. It is what it is and society just need to embrace it. If you don’t understand it take time to, because sadly, as it is you’re in the minority so a bit more knowledge of it wouldn’t hurt hey!

Its such a complex issue and there is no right or wrong way to deal with it, everybody is different. I only know what’s worked for me. The key for me is having a personal strength to control it as much as you can yourself, keeping your circle small but honest, and having patience with both the person suffering from it, and the person trying to understand it.

Its a big bag of wank and naturally, it would be easier if it didn’t exist, but it is what it is, so let’s stop pussy footing around it and just accept that being ‘mental’ is actually the new ‘normal’ so the world better catch up.

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One thought on “Just because you suffer with mental illness doesn’t mean you’re ‘mental’

  1. I really enjoyed reading this.
    As someone who can relate, I have to say that cuts in mental health services play a huge part in how well a person is supported and how quickly. There is only so much you can do by yourself, no matter how strong willed or knowledgeable you are of your illness.
    For me, it’s always there. But I can function day to day, most of the time. It just becomes exhausting slapping a ‘happy face’ on when really you could just do with watching a box set in bed and get that cruddy feeling out of your system/escape for a while.
    Having awesome friends is really important and pets too!
    The stigma of having a mental illness does need to be destroyed though. I don’t wear mine like a badge of honour but I’m not afraid to be honest about it. At the same time, that doesn’t give folk the right to use it against me at a later date. I know I have (as my bf calls it) ‘brain wonk’ but that is just a small part of who I am and I’ve managed 30 years ok before being diagnosed!😂
    I enjoyed this because you don’t sugar coat anything and have a very pro active attitude towards getting your arse in gear! We all need a mental health coach that slaps us out of it from time to time.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mad-Girl-Bryony-Gordon/dp/1472232089

    Also, you should read this because it is hilarious xx

    Like

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