Sunday, 11 October 2009

Overcoming shame to talk about mental illness

I gratefully tip my hat to Ruth Moss for alerting me to World Mental Health Day.

People don't talk about mental health enough. Having mental illness is a source of shame and embarrassment, yet there are few of us who don't suffer with it in one way or another. We just don't want to look weak, so we pretend everything's okay, and so the cycle of shame goes on and on.

I live with anxiety and depression. In my case, though by no means in all cases, part of the answer is medication. I am not ashamed to say I have been using antidepressants (Citalopram) since 2005. I say part of the answer, because I often encounter the charge that antidepressants are a panacea, a one-step solution that simply covers up the "real" problem. Like any medication, antidepressants can be used that way - just as you can take tablets for a bad heart, but still carry on smoking, drinking, slobbing around and gorging yourself on take-out every night.

I cooperate with my medication. The tablets give me the strength and presence of mind to face my anxiety, but it's still there, and I still have to fight it. I still have to train my mind; I still have to make an effort.

Antidepressants might not be part of your solution. But you'll never find what your solution is if you can't admit to yourself and others that you're unwell. Take the first brave step and talk about it.

1 comment:

  1. I cooperate with my medication.

    What a perfect way of looking at it. If at some point in the future I go back on meds, that is just the attitude I'll take.