I want to preface this blog post by saying that I do not suffer from depression. I do suffer from anxiety of sorts but, more than that, I am incredibly passionate about the need to change our attitude towards mental health.
The world lost Robin Williams this week and I am delighted to say that I have read some incredibly moving articles, blogs and tweets (yes, you can be moving in 140 characters or less as The Academy showed us in the tweet below) and I think we are all in agreement that his death is nothing short of tragic.
Unfortunately, I am also saddened by the way Robin’s depression is being discussed through the media. As well as glorifying his suicide, which Mind commented on following the reporting of his death, I have also been stunned by the large number of people I have overheard saying, “What did he have to be depressed about? He was rich and famous.” “All that money and he’s depressed? What more did he need?” “He didn’t look depressed, he was always being funny.”
There is still a huge misunderstanding that mental health is a choice. You can choose to be happy or you can choose to be sad. If you’re sad, you can choose to get over it.
Fibromyalgia isn’t too dissimilar. The links between physical and mental health are becoming stronger and, in my opinion, that’s a good thing. One influences the other and vice versa. However, the main barrier still seems to be around the sight, proof, evidence that so many people (including some of the medical profession) demand from us. Why do we have to convince you that we are in pain? I can’t see your depression, you can’t see my anxiety, and you can’t see my Fibromyalgia. Does it mean it doesn’t exist? No. Does it mean we have more control over it than something you can see? No.
I really hope that we, as a society, keep working on this so that people learn to respond to mental health in a different way. No. Better. In a better way.