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The Elephant In The Room
Posted by dirkgently1066
30th Oct 2014

Knowledge of mental health has begun to become more widespread in our society. And yet there remains a stigma, a sense that mental illness is somehow not as serious as physical illness.

Why? There remains a shame to admit to mental health problems, that they represent a sign of weakness, that these are not 'real' health problems, instead perhaps just something in your mind that you need to shake off, get over, get on with it, grin and bear it, pull your socks up.

These views are of course nonsense. Mental illness is real. It blights lives, destroys relationships.

I have my own experience. After years of ignoring the signs, following the stigma, I inevitably crashed. The three months I spent in therapy at hospital for depression and anxiety were the most important months of my life. I learnt about my illness, learnt about myself. And it was there that I learnt the most fundamental lesson of all.

You can change.

It is a simple concept but a fundamental one.

You can change.

Whilst in the grip of mental illness, it can be tempting to label oneself, to apply a blanket judgement that says, 'This is what I am.'

But it is not who you are. You are not the illness. You are suffering from the symptoms of the illness. Negative automatic thoughts seek to reaffirm your deepest fears and insecurities. Reject them.

I am not depressed, I have suffered from depression. It is a subtle distinction but an important one. I am not a fixed, unalterable state. There is no pre-defined path set before me. I get to choose.

In the same way that I did not choose to be depressed, I cannot simply choose to not be depressed. But each day, I can choose to resist. The negative automatic thoughts tell me to turn left. I can choose to turn right.

It is not easy. Few things that are worthwhile in life ever are. But it can be done. I have seen it. I have done it. I am living it. One day at a time.

Mental illness is a disease. YOU are the cure.

Be kind to yourself. Give yourself time. And become the change you want to see.

You may never get to where you are trying to go. The point of life is to enjoy the journey.

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