Today is Time to Talk day in the United Kingdom. The idea is to take five minutes out of one’s day to talk about mental health, whether it be to do some lovely stigma-busting, or to just take some time to check on friends. Really, as long as one takes five minutes to do their part to keep the conversation alive, it’s a Good Thing™®.
Now, I want to take a moment to approach a very specific thing — the prevalence of mental illnesses in the world today. One in four people will experience mental illness every single year. That’s a full quarter of people you know, and could very well include yourself; most of my fellow Bipolaratti reading this know full well how well we can self-deceive in order to survive. And even in countries like the United Kingdom that have a bigger push to stigma bust and normalize mental illnesses, there’s still a shame factor that makes people hide their suffering, often unto the point of denying themselves help. Many people see needing that help as a failure somehow. That they have failed as an adult, as a human, that they are less… all sorts of negative things.
Okay well, here’s the thing — the modern world is hard, and getting more ridiculous day by day. People are expected to work ungodly hours to show their dedication to their job (more and more exploited during times like the current recession because people are desperate to cling onto employment). People are expected to find hours in the week to exercise that they don’t have, to get a full eight hours of sleep, to commute some ungodly distances, to cook healthy meals from scratch, to… well. There’s a huge fucking pile of expectations that are beyond unrealistic. It is completely understandable that not everyone can keep up. THIS IS NOT A FAILURE. Nor is the fact that the inability to keep up fills one with self-loathing, depression upset, poor self-esteem, and so on.
‘Oh, but if I can do it, anyone can do it!’ We often hear or see this said. Person X manages to do all the ‘right’ things, so obviously everyone is exactly identical and can as well. Bullshit. We are all individuals with our own strengths and weaknesses, and the current set of baseline expectations that many of us absorb through media and social interaction that’s supposed to make us ‘happy’ and ‘fulfilled’… well. As said, they are unrealistic. We are people, not machines. And really, even machines break down when exposed to unrelenting pressure and effort with no down time for maintenance.
You are not a failure if you’re having a hard time. You’re not a drama queen if you’re sad, or numb, or feeling lost. Don’t suffer in silence — reach out and talk to a friend. Reach out and ask a doctor for help. Step out of the shadows and share your experience; you’ll find that a good quarter of your friends, if not more, will totally empathise. Yeah, there’s always going to be a few shits with that superior attitude that you’re not taking the right supplements/eating right/working out right/etc, but fuck ’em. They don’t know you. They don’t know what’s right for you. I don’t know what’s right for anyone but me either. I can only say thus — I care about my friends, and I’m always happy to lend an ear. I’m glad that I can share my own experiences so my friends understand that they are not alone.
Nor is anyone obligated to share publicly how they’re feeling, or what they’re going through! But that’s definitely one way depression tries to trick a person. It tells you that you’re not worthy of attention, that you’re bad and wrong somehow, and that nobody cares. Once again, bullshit. I care. Other people care.
And as I’m going around in circles now, I’ll stop here. I do hope this finds everyone well, and if not? There’s a contact form — feel free to use it, and I’m happy to talk to you.