Look, I’m going to be honest with you. I hate that I am going to have to write this. I hate that it has wound me up this much. But, most of all, I hate that in this day and age we are still comparing mental illness backgrounds to basically see if someone is justified with having their illness.
I was unfortunate enough to overhear a conversation recently in which a person’s anxiety was being discussed. During this conversation, they actually laughed at the reason he suffers anxiety, and tried to say that the person didn’t need the treatment.
Normally, I would have just walked away. Normally, I would have decided that their ignorance wasn’t worth me wasting my breath. This time though, I decided to act. If we all turn away and don’t confront these idiots, then how will anything change?
And, as expected, I was in the wrong. I didn’t understand what they meant. According to them, the things that made him anxious were nothing in comparison to the things happening around us.
I couldn’t believe it. They actually felt it acceptable to compare everyone’s life situation and judge who, in their limited mind set and opinion, deserved to have a mental health condition.
As I argued, and found myself getting more and more frustrated, I realised something. We cannot end the stigma around mental health simply by talking about it. That’s what these people were doing. They were talking mental health. Yet, in their way of doing it, they were actually adding to the stigma around people have.
Let’s be honest. If someone suffering anxiety, questioning it in their own mind and comparing it to others, over heard this, what would they think? I doubt, somehow, that they would be willing to step up and defend their selves. More than likely, it would add to the self examination and further add to the feeling of their condition not being valid.
I wish I could give words of optimism and hope, but, on this occasion I can’t. Instead, all I will say is this. Yes, conversation around mental health is needed. Yes, talking about can help more people feel that they are not going to be pushed away by those closest to them. But, please, do everyone a favour. Think about what you say. Think about the effect it could have on someone else. Ask yourself whether it is constructive. If you doubt 100% that it will be helpful and positive, do everyone a favour, and don’t say it!