If there's one thing I really struggle to tolerate, it's narrow-mindedness. I can't for the life of me understand why there are people out there who can't accept that someone has a mindset different to them (perhaps I'm being narrow-minded for not accepting that people are narrow-minded? I dunno?). Depression and mental illness in general is massively misunderstood; because those affected don't have anything visibly wrong with them for example a pot on their arm or a wheelchair their illness is often considered not 'credible' to even be classed as an illness. I struggle with my emotions and feelings but it's not something I've ever been to the doctors about because I feel stupid, and the fact that I feel stupid about it surely says something about attitudes towards mental illness?
'Why is it always women who get depressed?' was a question I was asked the other week when I was having what I call one of my 'down days', you know those days when you just feel so lacking in motivation, energy or tolerance for anything else but your own company and sometimes even that can be borderline unbearable; those days when you just want to sleep. Depression doesn't discriminate between gender, height, weight, age or anything else for that matter but do you think that as women we are more susceptible? Or do you think it's because women are more likely to talk about it and report that they are feeling unwell? Statistics from The Mental Health Foundation say that 1 in 4 women will require treatment for depression while only 1 in 10 men will require treatment, now that statistic does suggest that women are more susceptible but it only seems to consider those men who have gone to the doctors about how they feel; presumably there are plenty of men who don't go to the doctors because maybe they don't consider it a real reason to get help?! I'm sure some (sexist) individuals would suggest that this is because women are the weaker sex but in my opinion this just shows that women are slightly more comfortable discussing their feelings whereas men feel like it isn't the 'masculine' thing to do to ask for help? The fact that men are 3 times more likely to commit suicide than women must say something, surely? So clearly it isn't always women who get depressed, they just seem more likely to talk about it.
Another phrase that really gets on my nerves is 'pull yourself together', pull myself together how exactly?! Don't get me wrong there are days that are a lot easier than others but if I'm having a bad day I honestly feel like there is nothing that will make me feel any better and to tell me to 'pull myself together' only serves to make me feel even more stupid than I already do. When you're feeling mentally weak, to belittle someone further, to me, is one of the worst things you could do.
I'm babbling on, I know but the main purpose of me writing this blog post is to try and encourage those who don't understand depression, to try and understand a little more. Understand that even if you feel you can pull yourself round from what you feel is a bad mood, other people cannot. What you think is a 'bad mood' is actually probably a swirling downward spiral of horrible feelings that the person probably doesn't know what to do with.
I urge anyone who doesn't consider mental illness as a real illness to read up about it; people who are closest to you might be suffering but because there are often no visible signs it goes completely unnoticed. Don't belittle anyone who you think might be suffering from a form of mental illness and don't ask them to pull themselves together, just be there and if you don't feel you can be there, suggest where they might be able to get some help.
Here are some useful links:
A-Z of mental health - for those who just don't 'get it'
Mind - someone who might be able to help whether it's for yourself or someone you care about
Samaritans - As above
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