If the title of this post got your attention, read this post in its entirety before commenting.
A particularly misguided and snarky comment in response to my last post got me thinking a bit about the general British attitude towards mental health. The person who commented is British -¬†an easy enough fact to trace – and apparently holds the view that discussing my battle with ADD/ADHD here is an attempt to seek attention. (Trust me, there are much more creative ways to accomplish such a goal if that were my aim.)
Those of you who have been with regularjen for awhile know that this is a general interest blog. I write posts about anything that affects me and if it interests you, great. If not, tune in for another post another time or move along to a blog that suits your reading requirements. My blog is primarily for me, or else I’d probably be blogging on a social media site where it is much easier to build a huge number of ‘friends’. Most of my readers find me through Google or personal recommendation and I’ve got to say that my growing network of readers and subscribers are awesome. More importantly, it’s lovely that you keep coming back. I don’t need you to like me, but when you do, it’s something special. I like to believe I’ve earned the ones that stick around. I thank you and send you virtual hugs and smooches.
Lately, I’ve been a bit preoccupied with a depressive episode triggered by a mental illness called Attention Deficit Disorder. It is a real condition and is a brain disorder. It’s not any less real than bipolar or schizophrenia. It is neurological. Without medication and cognitive therapy, it can be terribly disruptive. To insinuate that a person uses a measurable brain malady to seek attention is not only insulting to the millions of individuals who suffer from mental illness, but it also conveys the exact attitude towards mental health care in Britain that is so desperately dated and ignorant. The idea that an illness could be used to generate sympathy is not new and has been abused by plenty of dishonest people throughout time and circumstances, but if a person can read my words and not get a sense of the honesty conveyed, then that person is likely harbouring a deeper issue within himself that skews his (or her) perception of his own mental well-being. Saying the rest of the world is either fucked up or faking it is much easier than accepting one’s own dark issues.
To say we all have our problems, large and small, is a trivialisation. To acknowledge that some members of the population have problems on a neurological level that are physically impossible to remedy without appropriate treatment is accurate. To further assert that there are thousands of troubled individuals out there that are in a state of denial thanks in part to the stigmatisation of mental illness -¬†a malady beyond the individual’s control – who then believe that admittance to the illness is in some way both a defeat and an attempt to garner attention, is unfortunately equally as accurate. A person is not weak for what is beyond his (or her) control- a person is weak for ignoring it. Pretending it doesn’t exist and it will go away does not work. Trust me on that.
Truth is, times are changing and the general understanding of mental illness is expanding. Thanks to recent programmes on the BBC, a whole new audience understands a little bit more about depression and the difference between neurological depression (bipolar) and a case of the blues. Even in our town centre this afternoon, the NHS had a booth set up to spread the word about the health taboo of mental illness. Change is coming and not a moment too soon.
As for the title of this post, Mental illness is for pussies, thankfully, this attitude is disappearing. When depressed, a person can’t just think happy thoughts. When unfocused and frustrated with ADHD, a person can’t just get it together. Mental illness is real. Be brave enough to seek help, even if you’re not sure what’s wrong.
There are times when ignorance is bliss and there are times when ignorance is just ignorance.