No one is suggesting that you shouldn’t show concern for people with mental health issues via social media. However, in the same way that many people dealing with a cancer diagnosis feel alienated by the “battling” metaphors, there is a significant complexity to mental illness that needs to be more widely acknowledged.
This impressive young British journalist has articulated so much that needs to be in the public domain. The issues relating to the reduction of government support for the NHS (the National Health System in the UK) might serve as a warning for those countries whose public healthcare systems are similarly threatened. And as a mirror for those who don’t have public healthcare. But there is undoubtedly a lot here that needs to be known across the world’s population for whom mental health issues – particularly beyond depression and anxiety but not excluding those either – do not directly affect their lives. It’s positive that more people care. That more people want to know how to do something to provide support. So those people should read this article.
If you don’t live in it, you will never truly understanding complex, lifelong and evolving mental illness. The vocabulary to describe it has not been invented. And in some ways, neither has the brain capacity for anyone to understand the layers and nuance and inexplicable but palpable feelings of doom or terror or misperception or unmanageable mood change. Those who suffer it often can only feel it but not interpret it in a way that gives any real sense of what it is like to live within it. And even if they have periods when they’re not immersed, if they’re lucky they might lose touch with the piercing detail of the reality of those unfathomable depths. And why would they want to connect with those when there are so few reprieves in that temporary oasis where it’s almost possible to be finally present in a life that isn’t imploding through every part of you.
The article isn’t short. And #MentalHealthAwareness is. That’s why the slogans and similar initiatives to de-stigmatise are the efforts that catch fire. Few of us have time for longer than a re-tweet or a Facebook post before we move on with our own issues in our own lives which are debilitating in their own ways. No one’s life is easy. Few escape living nightmares in some form or another.