Mental Health is relative – we all have brains, therefore we all have our own unique, circumstantial experiences, chemical balance & resulting states of mind. Whether by nature or (lack of) nurture, the complexities of the human condition & its’ associated Conditions remain, & probably will always be, our greatest mystery.
Despite the modern day privilege of being at the pinnacle of scientific, medicinal, therapeutic & psychological endeavours; no mind or its matter is fully understood. A literal grey area. We are all being told how it can be ‘solved’ while being sold to. Are we being sold a lie?
We’ve come a long way when it comes to challenging stigma but the journey is far from over when it comes to not-so-good, old fashioned, ugly Mental Illness.
It’s a cause for celebration that we’re talking about trending hashtags, promising pledges & acts of kindness, of course. It doesn’t seem long ago – feels like a lifetime – in my own personal struggles that it felt like nobody was being open. Maybe we just couldn’t hear it or be heard?
For all its’ faults, flaws & negative affects on our collective wellbeing, technology has allowed awareness & understanding to flourish. We’re able to find connection & community in even the loneliest of corners or the darkest of holes (please, don’t fall). We know we are not alone out ‘there’- somewhere, someone else understands, don’t they?
For World Mental Health Day Social Media has been flooded with good intentions & quotes & memes about self-care & ‘wellness’ while others are literally drowning in the harsh & horrific depths of hardcore Mental Illness. They’re probably not feeling up for posting a selfie or even aware what day of the week it is. It’s not a competition of diagnoses & neuroses by any means (who the hell would want to win that?) but I’ll admit it’s started to feel like screaming into a void of an echo chamber once again. Now it’s elitist too.
Typically, the same troupe of mostly white, privileged (‘posh’ for want of another phrase) Poster People will be there to tell us all how to live; aren’t we lucky to have their momentary insight from decades ago & feel #blessed to have THEIR self-discoveries published & printed & promoted to us by their cliques & closed circles? Their shiny light shining the way in our Depressed darkness! It’s enough to make you feel uneasy or maybe even hopeless & less understood than ever before. A few are even riding Y/OUR waves of Depression & Anxiety all the way to the bank while so very many have sunk into the Challenger Deep of poverty at the same time.
Hey, if something rings true for you & helps you than that is a fine thing. Different strokes for different folks & again, it’s all relative. Many of these accounts, books, TV shows or films may be exactly what you need right now; your virtual hug or mug of tea. A nice, comfortable place to start from to reflect, be mindful & gentle with ourselves. Holding hands is needed & it’s all very nice.
Yet, I feel compelled to call out a classist culture of cash-ins & cash cows because I’m smelling a LOT of bullshit. Take just a moment to flare your nostrils & I bet you can smell it too. I’m not naming names, that’s not what this is meant to be or what I’m about. Please just choose your own guru / teacher / therapist / author / hero / heroine / brand / ambassador wisely when it comes to where you put your faith & – quite likely very limited – finances. Who really are these ‘voices’ in your head & do their (book)spines have a real backbone? Qualify their quality; don’t believe the hype.
It’s time to question the able & amplified voices. It’s time to diversify the conversations around Mental Health globally & personally.
Who is less about virtuous hand holding & more about holding your hair back while you lose your guts over & over again for the long haul?
Who are your REAL friends? Who really gets it? I sincerely hope you find your answer differs from my own very small number of people indeed.
The irony & hypocrisy of being a white, privileged woman writing these words via tech is not lost on me but perhaps my tuppence worth on how I lost, & keep on losing, my mind might just cut through some of the class war chaos. Words are all I have when I’m able to write them; those moments & means to do so are a privilege in themselves. I had a fairly decent Comprehensive education & am able to sound or even appear ‘posh’, too.
As much as there has been great progress, the extremes of poverty & Mental Illness are still stigmatised. To be ‘Crazy’ &/or ‘Poor’ is still taboo.
My story doesn’t fit a ‘familiar’ or palatable mould but I’m going to keep telling it when I can. To paraphrase John Lennon: a working class ‘zero’ IS something to be. The voices of other classes, abilities & races DO matter. WE matter. YOU matter.