To be truthful, I’m embarrassed I didn’t write about this earlier. This week one of my favourite YouTube creators Jack Harries spoke out about one of the most taboo topics around, Mental Health. I have friends on either end of the spectrum – ones that don’t believe mental illnesses exist, and others that have experienced them firsthand.
I’m not ashamed to say that I have a high levels of anxiety. It affects my sleep mostly, but can invade my life at unexpected moments. For those who don’t know, anxiety is actually considered a mental illness. My friends are very much aware of my anxiety and perceive it as a natural human response to pressure. In turn they often brush it off with generic phrases like ‘everyone get’s anxious sometimes.’ To this I feel like saying – yes, you’re right it is a natural thing to happen. Much like getting the flu, mental illness is a natural and unavoidable thing. So unavoidable that one in four people will experience it at some stage in their life. BUT where they’re wrong is to dismiss it. With the flu I’d be prescribed antibiotics, yet for some reason, when I express feelings of anxiety, they barely get acknowledged.
Depression, Anorexia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder are all mental illnesses.
Do you know anyone who suffers from one of these? Odds are, you do. So what can you do to help?
The problem is people don’t understand what’s happening or how to help because people aren’t educated on mental health. It’s time to be aware of how normal and how human these conditions are. They aren’t weaknesses, they are just part of our genetic makeup. People who have mental illnesses don’t need our pity or judgement, they just need help.
And to those of you who perceive mental illness as an illegitimate illness – let me explain it to you in the same way Jack Harries did. The brain is an organ, just like the heart, so why don’t we treat them the same? Why would we neglect someones brain, and cure their heart. I understand mental illness isn’t tangible – it’s not going to show up on an X-Ray, blood test or an MRI, but it will manifest itself through a persons behaviour. We can see when mental illness strikes and by neglecting the person suffering from it, we do irreparable damage to their well-being.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I have all the answers or that I truly understand mental illness, but what I do know is that it’s time to speak up and at least try to understand.
Watch Jack Harries’ video here.