Mental illness is for pussies

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 Рand 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.

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7 thoughts on “Mental illness is for pussies”

  1. * hugs * Thanks, Geneva!

    I am so tired I can barely see to brush my teeth, but I’ve got your article in a tab and ready for reading first thing in the morning. 🙂

    I don’t know where to get a shirt like that, but I may throw one together for my Spreadshirt shop… Maybe some ADHD themed ones too… Thanks for the idea!

  2. Thank you for writing that, I think I’m going to point a few people who question my depression at it.

    Geneva, like Jen, I have your article tabbed for later reading.

    – Neil.

  3. I have to say the general attitude to mental illness in many parts of the UK is pretty poor. I have to say that I was going to comment as such when you initially posted saying you were going to see the doctor as I’ve tended to find Berkshire pretty poor all round. But I thought I’d wait and see if things were any better down your end of the county. Sadly not. Beth has had much the same experience. At one point shortly after she moved over here she had problems and the Doctor basically said that there was little that he could offer except pills or a six month wait for an initial consultation with a psychiatrist.

    Prior to that I had a friend who had a whole raft of mental health problems. On one occasion she turned up on my doorstep late at night having taken an overdose of paracetemol. A & E at the Royal Berkshire established she hadn’t taken enough to kill herself and having eventually found the duty psychiatrist, she was packed off to the ‘local’ facility near Oxford, and was let out a day later with no follow up. She did exactly the same thing a few months later up in Lancaster, and again she was kept in for a couple of days to check she was physically ok, but no real backup from any sort of mental health services. I knew of someone who had a total breakdown but lived in Hampshire, and their response seemed slightly better – it definitely seems to be very hit and miss across the country.

    As you’ve discovered, most GP’s seem to know little about various mental health conditions, and the usual method of dealing with it is with pills, and you really need to do what you’re doing and not be fobbed off. Although there isn’t the capacity for everybody who needs it (mental health services are often the first things to be cut it seems), there are places that can help around, the frustration being that often you need to do the leg work to find them, and then push your GP towards them.

    Anyway, I’m glad to hear that things for you are going a bit better for you now, hopefully you’ll be able to get what you need out of your GP.

  4. Interestingly I faced the very seem attitude from doctors themselves. I’ve suffered from all sorts of mental ailments, the symptoms of which I won’t bother to describe here. During a particularly bad period of depression I was dragged from my bed by a friend and taken to hospital. The doctor on duty asked me if I had any relatives that suffered from depression, I assumed he wondering if it was genetic thing but he went on to suggest that it must be ‘cool’ to lie in bed and not do any work for a few days – in short he was suggesting I was emulating someone’s behavior for the purposes of what…pity?..I don’t know! So anyway, he told me to go to my GP who told me it was all a mild behavioral disorder and gave me some antibiotics.

    So I as far as I’m concerned I remain undiagnosed meanwhile suffering from often difficult and painful ‘episodes’ which I can only attribute to either chemical imbalance or all just because I’m ‘a bit weird’. I don’t know how they even diagnose these things, I’ve lived through symptoms that are attributed to autism, schizophrenia, ADD, asprgies and CBD yet I’m still officailly fine. Uncertainty is a terrible thing.

  5. Good lord. Antibiotics for a behavioural disorder? Damn. I’m speechless.

    I hope one day you find your answers, Conrad. Uncertainty is indeed a terrible thing.

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