Thursday, 9 August 2012

There's nothing wrong with you

Twice in the last couple of weeks I've had well meaning people tell me that I shouldn't be taking anti depressants as there is nothing wrong with me. I mean everyone feels a bit sad sometimes right? That doesn't mean they have one of those mental illness things. Neither of these people meant to be offensive, I'm pretty sure that they both quite like me, they just don't understand and belong to a way of thinking that is full of stereotypes and misinformation.

Neither of them has any experience dealing with mental illness, neither of them know what it's like to have a constant black cloud hanging over you. Sadly, they are not the only two people who think like this. Despite the struggles for greater awareness, understanding and acceptance, mental illness still has a very special stigma all of it's own. "Normal" people seem to believe that only specific personality types suffer from depression, that depressed people are lazy, that they want to be depressed.

This couldn't be further from the truth. Depression, by definition, is not a fun illness to have. Aside from the physical and mental issues you have to deal with, this kind of thinking from the broader community makes the struggle 100 times harder. Knowing that people think you are "making it up" doesn't offer any kind of comfort. So take a look around you, you probably know someone who suffers from depression.

 One in four Australians have suffered from depression at some point. If some one is brave enough to share their story with you, set aside your assumptions and really listen. You might learn something.

4 comments:

Clay Bolger said...

It's maddening that mental illness is still perceived that way in society. We've come a long way since asylums and shock treatment, but we still have a long way to go. As more people experience their own struggle with depression, or someone close to them, awareness starts to grow. It's a shame that people seem to need to experience something before developing any real empathy and understanding for it. Nicely written, Tif.

tif flynn said...

Thanks Clay. You guys must find it frustrating as well as I imagine Autism is a bit the same, it's all in their heads etc. it's time everyone understood that people's brains all work differently, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Jane said...

I can't believe that people would say that! It's like someone telling me that I don't need to take my thyroid medication because they can't physically see anything wrong with me..... So weird. Saying that, my own father has very little understanding (and perhaps tolerance) of mental illness. Maybe because he hasn't had any experience with it. Both my sister and I find it very frustrating to talk to him about it if it comes up in conversation because he has a very 'black and white', 'tough love' perspective on it.

tif flynn said...

I think there's definitely a generational component to some people's way of thinking and if they haven't had any personal experience to challenge that way of thinking then nothing changes. All of us who have mental health issues need to keep speaking out and educating people as much as we can, even in the face of such intolerance. Stay strong :)

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