Mental Health Awareness Week: Why is awareness so important?

I came across this blog post earlier today. It struck a chord in me. Perhaps I’m too sensitive, or cynical, or both. It’s been my personal experience that those who really and truly need to “get it,” are the ones least likely to ever open their minds.

I struggle with depression. I don’t know – or care – what came first, my physical or mental health issues. What I do know, is that despite living in the Information Age, people are often willfully ignorant. Look, I don’t want or expect people to know the minutiae of the challenges I face each and every moment of every day. What I do want – and wish I could expect – is for others to stop expecting that it’s okay to dump their beliefs and expectations on me.

If I do share with you that I’m having issues when outside my home, it’s generally just a courtesy on my part. It means I’m sharing in the hope of less judgement than I normally face. I don’t want people to think I’m intoxicated when my balance goes or my words start to slur, so if I’m out with folks I don’t know that well and I notice something is about to go wonky, I state then and there that I have MS. It is not – let me be very clear – an invitation or cue, for anyone to proceed peppering me with questions, sharing the so-called medical wisdom, or to pass judgement. It is not a case of my pulling the sympathy card. I just want the people around me to know that I’m not plastered or high.

If my depression gets the better of me while out in public and you don’t live the expression on my face – or in my case, lack thereof – it does not give you, family, friend or stranger, the right to go off on me. Period. You don’t like the look in my face?  Here’s a tip, don’t look!

p.s.  And please, stop comparing me or my case to other people.  Believe it or not, I am fully aware that literally billions of people have a much, much harder life than I do.  And I know that many of them still manage to put on a happy face and be an inspiration.  Guess what?  I am doing the best I can.  If that’s not good enough for you, then it’s your problem. Not mine.

#BlackDogRunner

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but this week is Mental Health Awareness Week. For those who spend much time around me, this must sound rather exhausting. Barely a week goes by where I don’t moan about my symptoms, complain about stigma, or behave in a generally ‘mental’ way. Rather than another week of raising awareness, I suspect many of my friends would prefer a Mental Health Ignorance Week. Where I’d be induced into a state of quiet normalness, and the rest of the world could continue… Well… pretty much as normal.

"Ignorance is bliss" “Ignorance is bliss” (This is one of my favourite pictures on the internet – I don’t know the original source)

And – if I’m fair – I’d have sympathy. For a start, I know how boring I can get when I feel motivated to speak. It’s like a terrible episode of Question Time, where the most annoying…

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