I'm Mental!

"You're a mental!"  A sentence said in jest by me growing up as a child of the Baby Boomer generation.  As children, we seldom know what we are saying. As adults, we should know better. The words you use in jest can bully, humiliate, hurt, and ultimately destroy another person.

I'm a mental, a person who has had a mental illness. Those words 'mental illness' conjure up all sorts of things. I use to fear people with a mental illness. Perhaps I may not have had there been a better term to use such as 'brain sickness'. I am a person who has had a brain sickness.

Brain sickness comes in many forms, from totally debilitating to those controlled with medication, to those who have recovered. Note I did not say fully recovered. Just like when you break a bone there is always a weak point where the bone has repaired itself.  The same happens with your brain, there is always a weakness that you have to be careful with.

Some people carry a prejudice towards those who have had depression. Again, I did not say 'suffered' from depression because for me it was a gift. It's not a gift I would want to receive again thanks all the same nor give as a present to others.  I also use to think that all you needed to do to get over depression was to harden up, get on with things. Not so these days!

Generally, any prejudice held towards those who have had depression is due to a lack of understanding about the brain sickness and perhaps for some it is from fear of the unknown.  To get over this prejudice just think of depression as 'brain flu'. It can be helped just like any other flu. Or at the very least controlled with medication.

If you have had a serious broken bone you may be left with continual pain that has to be managed by medication.  Why is it then that it is okay to take medication for the pain of a bone injury but there is still a stigma if you take medication to manage your brain pain? I am lucky, I do not have to take medication.  But I do have to ensure I get enough sleep, exercise, and socialisation so that I do not get sick again.

There are many great people I know who have been to see the black dog and returned to be much wiser.  Not stronger, wiser. Some of those people love to share their gift with others so that other people don't have to go through the same thing. Listen to these and you will learn a lot.