START TAKING MENTAL HEALTH SERIOUSLY

Following the very sad & sudden death of Charlotte Dawson over the weekend, I’ve found myself compelled to write about mental illness, or more appropriately the fact that I believe mental health issues don’t seem to be taken very seriously in Australia & New Zealand.
Mental health & suicide are always going to be hugely divided & debated issues. I do truly believe however, that somewhere along the line we’re getting colder & harsher & very unforgiving towards other peoples suffering.
Something I’ve noticed following Charlottes death has been the serious lack of compassion & empathy from fellow New Zealanders & Australians. Perhaps humans in general, I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but this is the impression I get from the environment & society I live in.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been some very beautiful & touching things written & said & with a bit of luck & a lot of hard work, hopefully some positive outcomes can come from a terrible situation.
However, I continue to be disgusted & disappointed at the blasé attitude the majority of antipodes seem to have towards mental health issues.

Harden Up. Take a Concrete Pill. Dry Your Tears Princess. Suck It Up. Stop Being Such a Girls Blouse.
Any of those sound familiar?
Don’t get me wrong, I am a massive advocate for positivity & being grateful for the lives we live. I truly believe we are the makers of our own destiny & the only ones responsible for our own happiness.

However, we are all very different. And these things are all too often easier said than done.
One persons journey isn’t going to be the same as someone else’s.
Depression is a very serious mental illness. Because of its complexity & the fact that it cannot be seen, (as say a broken bone can be seen) means that it is very difficult to treat.
A type of medication that works for one person may not work for another. It can take years for someone to find a medication that works for them. And in the mean time the pressures of life really can take their toll.
That’s why counselling, in one form or another is also very important & in my opinion should go hand in hand with medication when it comes to mental illness.
What if no medication or form of counselling helps? Everyone’s reaction to any type of health care is going to be different. This is why it is so hard to treat.

It is all too easy to sit there & say someone like Charlotte Dawson created the life she lived, had money & everything at her disposal.
This means nothing!
Just because life “appears” picture perfect on the outside, doesn’t mean she wasn’t fighting demons on the inside. She did create a very successful life for herself, but that doesn’t automatically equate to guaranteed eternal happiness.

Everyone’s story is different, no ones journey is the same as the next person. We are all fighting our own internal battles everyday. But because we are all so incredibly different, some of us are wired to deal with the hard times, perhaps a little better than others.

What disgusted me the most with this news over the weekend, is the reaction from what appears to be “extremist groups”. And people that I can only assume have never suffered from, or been close to someone that has suffered from depression, anxiety or mental illness of some sort.
The general theme seems to be that as human beings we all have our fair share of bad things happen to us, that we should just get over it & move on.
Depression didn’t exist “back in the day” & it’s just an excuse for pharmaceuticals to sell drugs, is another common line I’m hearing.
Like I said, I doubt very highly that any of these people has suffered from or even been close to someone that has been affected by depression.

When you haven’t experienced something your self, or witnessed first hand how it can affect another human being, it is very difficult to understand. So in that sense, I don’t take these heartless comments too seriously, but at the same time part of me does wonder, what kind of person can judge another persons pain, their life, their situation, without even knowing them, or having the first idea of what they have been through?
What gives any of us the right to measure someone else’s pain or suffering?

I do realise that lots of different people commit suicide every day. Some people see it as unfair that Charlotte Dawson is all over the news because she decided to take her own life, but what about someone else that is in the same situation but isn’t in the public eye & doesn’t get a mention?
Fact of the matter is, she was in the public eye. She was a pretty well known figure in both Australia & New Zealand. Her death is going to be all over the news & the papers, whether you like it or not.
When you are a well known person, that’s what happens.
It doesn’t make her death any more important than anyone else’s.
So rather than getting upset about something so trivial as the fact that her death is making headlines, why not try to take to best out of an incredibly tragic situation?
Take the fact that her death & illness is making headlines & use it for good.

Let this be another reminder to take mental health seriously. Lets get these anti cyber bullying laws passed & raise awareness. Lets get rid of this barbaric assumption that mental illness is a choice, or a punishment, or an easy fix. Lets start taking it seriously & start to show some real compassion & empathy for our fellow human beings.

Just because someone looks as happy as can be on the outside, doesn’t necessarily mean that all is well on the inside.
Ask your friends & family if they are okay. Tell them you love them.
Don’t ever underestimate the pain of another person.
And no matter what, always be kind. Always.

3 thoughts on “START TAKING MENTAL HEALTH SERIOUSLY

  1. I suffer chronic depression and anxiety. I guess because I spend so much time around people who are proactive in the face of their mental illness (I attend a day program once a week, I have some carefully chosen friends who also live with mental health issues, and I spend a fair bit of time with fellow sufferers online) I see a lot of positives in the way Aus and NZ are approaching mental health at the moment. Mind you, I don’t engage in much media outside of the ABC, The Age and whatever I come across online, so perhaps I’m not receiving an accurate picture of the zeitgeist of Australians and our NS neighbours.
    In the world I live in, I choose to mix with people who do not denigrate mental illness, respect each other’s individual journeys (and those of others), and take positive action to help them not only survive but hopefully one day thrive in the face of their diagnoses. I’m fortunate to have private health insurance so I can access truly amazing services, and I spend money on seeing a therapist twice a week. (No new clothes for over a year, but it’s worth it!)
    It’s up to you whether you approve this comment or not :-) I will respect your choice.
    Peace.
    XX DB

    • Cheers for your feedback DB. I agree, the media for the most part tackle this issue with great sensitivity in our part of the world. It was brought to my attention from friends on social media etc that sadly, there are still a lot of people out there that seem to think mental health is a bit of a joke. We still have a lot of work to do as a society, but I do think we’ve come a long way. It’s something I am very passionate about & really wanted to write something on it. Thanks again & all the best.

      • All the best to you, too! Our voices will continue to add to the chorus drowning out the social media “downers” (no pun intended) and continue to bring about societal change. Yay!

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