In times of old, woman who had a child out of wedlock were often locked up in an asylum; boys with epilepsy were thought to be possessed, as were poor souls who heard voices. They were obviously in league with the devil himself. Ah, olden times: thank God it’s different now, eh?
Except, it isn’t. Society still likes to pretend that mental illness doesn’t exist and sufferers are often forced to keep their illness to themselves less they be shunned by friends or victimised in work until they are forced to resign. But by keeping quiet we are colluding in the misinformed belief that mental illness is something to be frightened of. That’s why I have decided to come out of my closet and admit to anyone who cares that I have suffered from depression for many, many years.
Yes, if you suffer from depression or schizophrenia it can be very frightening for the sufferer, and for those who love them. But being around a person with mental illness doesn’t mean that you will catch the crazies.
I have been on and off a variety of meds for 16 or 17 years and had a year of psychotherapy. I’m mostly OK now, although I am back to relying on medication to get through the days without sitting in the corner crying. There’s nothing wrong with my life: I’m not abused or living in a damp-infested flat. My life is good; really, really good. I just happen to have a chemical imbalance in my brain that can make it difficult to be full of beans at times. Every day I make the conscious choice to be happy and work at it, choosing to see the beauty and wonder in life. And, thanks to the meds, that is mostly how my days are. I am one of the lucky ones and thankful for it.
Choosing to be as open about my mental illness as others are about diabetes, hypertension and gallstones is a personal choice. I don’t expect others to confess. In fact, it’s nobody’s business. I am just angry that we can all talk about hysterectomies and arthritis and get sympathy and understanding while if we mention any malfunction in the organ between our ears, too many people take a step back and talk about the weather.
Yes, it’s pissing down and I have depression. Deal with it.