I heard a song yesterday, it popped into my ears randomly whilst listening to the ‘new releases for you’ on good old Spotify. The last lyric really stuck with me.
“When you come along, just like a song, I’ll sing for the whole world to see. I’ve got depression, depressions not got me.”
This line has played round in my head for 24 hours now, not only because I thought it was a truly empowering way to look at mental ill health but more the “I’ll sing for the whole world to see” part.
It’s stuck with me because since speaking openly about PTSD the silence which surrounds mental ill health has bugged the fuck out of me.
People don’t want to discuss it. They don’t know what to say, they think they may offend you, may make things worse. Then there are those who don’t ‘get it’ don’t understand because it isn’t something they can see, so they don’t talk about it.
As people we have a nasty habit of doing that don’t we. The things we don’t understand, the things we fear, the things which make us uncomfortable or awkward, we don’t mention them. Us Brits are especially bad for it. Don’t mention it and it’ll be OK, it’ll go away.
The thing is, it doesn’t go away, it doesn’t change anything, at least not for the person in need. No, for them it feeds the feeling that what they are experiencing is wrong. They are wrong.
We respond to illnesses we understand, we rally round to support, to comfort, to guide those we love. We ask, often a little too much “how are you feeling?” We worry for them, we fear for them, we cry for them and if their condition reoccurs we are there once again.
When someone suffers from mental ill health they are often alone. Those closest to them may rally but the wider network of support and care, that doesn’t materialise. And, in the instance of a reoccurrence, instead of support the person often receives cynicism, frustration and a lack of patience, as though what is happening is a choice.
This Everest sized divide in our minds between the way we support physical ill health and mental ill health has to end. There is no difference. Those who suffer mental ill health haven’t asked for it, they can’t control it, they are not to blame for it and they should not feel shame.
I feel no shame, no embracement and I certainly don’t feel responsibile for my PTSD. I was not weak, I was not “unable to handle the situation”, I did not “bring it on myself” I simply became unwell following a very difficult situation.
So I “sing for the whole world to see” and will continue to do so. Not because “she wants attention” but because there is absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t and more importantly, because to change the things which are wrong in this world people must find the strength to speak about them, not feed the silence or the ‘It’ll go away” culture.
If you have been unwell with your mental ill health, don’t let the silence make you feel shame, “Sing for the whole world to see” and change will come. xxx