As someone who tries to be aware of and empathic about mental health issues, I was shocked to read a blog describing the appalling and humiliating treatment an agoraphobia sufferer received from her bank. She made it very clear that she couldn’t make it to her local branch, and that she suffers greatly from panic attacks and being house-bound, and the bank representative she spoke to laughed at her. I felt so angry that she had to endure that; as if there wasn’t enough for her
to have to cope with! The only positive thing that came out of the experience was to read the replies from others who had read her blog. The understanding, compassion, righteous anger and good advice made me aware of the support that is out there. And reaching out, through her blog, I very much hope that individual receives and is comforted by how much her mistreatment has touched the lives of others, who, in turn, want to reach out to her.
I’ve just been reading the inspiring blog of a young women who suffers from juvenile arithitis. Charlotte explains it like this: ‘Its a serious chronic auto-immune disease and attacks the internal organs and eyes aswell as the joints and there is no cure’. She is in and out of hospital, suffers from a great deal of pain and can’t do many of the things she wants to. And yet, as she herself explains so eloquently: ‘Over the last 2 years I have learnt so much and I don’t just mean about the classification of different medications or my way around several different hospitals. I mean about life and how happiness is found in the smallest of things. Not taking anything for granted and wanting to live in the moment. Most of all I’ve learnt that after all the bad days I can still pick myself up at the end and be happy with what I have.’ How humbling and inspiring it is to hear her story, for her to share her pain and triumph over it. The link to her blog is below as I think she should, and does, speak for herself. Thank you, Charlotte, for giving me a different and inspiring perspective on life today.
@charlotte_stace @otrbristol #mentalhealth
I’ve been thinking about how much we like to label all things, including each other. As meaning-making beings, it’s virtually impossible for us not to categorise and generalise. However, there is a real danger in diagnosis. Placing a label on someone can reduce them to a series of symptoms, behaviours or feelings; not allowing their complexity and individuality as human beings to shine through. I know that often it can be a relief to find a title/definition for what is ailing, but with that comes a whole new realm of expectations. If I say, ‘Bill has an anxiety disorder’ or ‘Jane is bulimic’, you will have made many associations, assumptions and judgements before you have even had time to think about what those labels might mean. So, although it is virtually impossible, I strive to keep away from labels and diagnosis as much as I can: I know I want to be seen as more than what I sometimes suffer from and I would like to extend that right to others.
Suffering from depression, anxiety and/or panic attacks can feel overwhelming, terrifying, exhausting. People suffering in this way naturally turn to others – those who supposedly are expert in matters of health, GPs, psychiatrists, counsellors/therapists – in the hope they will alleviate their symptoms. Also they often have the pressure of their jobs and families: being with someone suffering depression can be frustrating, painful, infuriating and evoke a sense of helplesness. However, I think often
our society promotes a quick fix attitude to mental health. GPs prescribe anti-depressants and tranquilisers readily, sometimes without even checking whether individuals want to be medicated; and if counselling is available there is usually a limited number of sessions. People who have had emotional and relational problems for a long time, perhaps even as long as they can remember, are expected to ‘get better’ in six sessions and be grateful if their employers even recognise the strain they are under. Isn’t it about time we started asking ourselves what is important? Caring for others, listening and understanding what ails them or providing quick fixes and shrinking away from pain and despair?
It’s not that people don’t expect to be distressed or even depressed, but that many think society will not wait for them to heal. They do not want to hold back a high-performing team.