Self care, wellbeing, mindfulness, depression, anxiety.
All words the general public are accustomed to hearing. They are part of the mental health conversation and have become integral to increasing understanding of mental illness.
What about psychosis, schizophrenia, PTSD? These are terms that still make people feel uncomfortable and on edge. People still believe that if you have psychosis or schizophrenia you’re dangerous and violent. They use the label ‘psycho’ to define you. They believe PTSD can only happen if you’ve been in a war zone, and not understand domestic violence or childhood abuse can make the same huge impact on your life. If you have BPD you’re seen as attention seeking and manipulative. If you have Bipolar you’re unpredictable and a nightmare to be around. All are untrue and have deep and long lasting effects on each person who carries these diagnosis.
I’m worried that the conversation is being hijacked by ‘mindfulness’ and ‘wellbeing’. Those of us with severe mental illness already feel isolated and often go unnoticed; I don’t want us to become invisible. People will often shy away from connecting with people that have severe mental illness. It might be a lack of understanding and education that stops them. The media then has a responsibility to highlight what makes people uncomfortable, and address it. Rather than creating articles, publishing books and making podcasts that they know will be popular, take a chance and be on the side of those that feel isolated and invisible. Mindfulness is a trend, its a fad. When it fades into the background and out of the public consciousness, what’s left? Mental illness will still be here. There will still be people fighting a battle everyday. You might disagree with me but these trends happen in cycles.
I think mental health advocates and bloggers can often live in a bubble. A bubble full of supportive, like minded people on social media. When that bubble inevitably pops, we see what public perceptions of severe mental illness are really like. It’s important that we have these difficult conversations with people that disagree, or are peddling stigmatising tropes about mental illness. It doesn’t need to be a confrontation, if we look at it from a different point of view to our own.
I have struggled with the idea of my blog not being popular. That it isn’t relatable enough. Sometimes I think I would have more readers and subscribers if I wrote more posts about general wellbeing. That if I pitched more articles about this I’d have more commissions as a freelancer. But I don’t. I’m authentic, write honestly and truthfully. The moment I stopped comparing myself to others and thought ‘fuck it, I’ll do this my way’ I found blogging much more therapeutic and enjoyable.
If you see someone taking a chance and writing about severe mental illness, support them. Like and comment on their content. Share their stories. If you see someone peeping over the parapet and writing about psychosis or schizophrenia for instance, in the press, read what they have to say. Especially articles written by ethnic minorities, men and those from the LGBTQ community. Again, share it far and wide and encourage others to read and learn about severe mental illness. Please don’t ignore us. We can be a vital part of the mental health conversation.