I’ve been thinking about why it is that people are so often frightened or embarrassed about mental illness: it’s almost as if just the mention of it sends a shiver down everyone’s spine. I believe the fear is fueled by a combination of terror at being similarly affected and of the potential shame/embarrassment at not performing to the high standards set by society.
People can be quick to offer solutions. ‘You’re depressed? You just need a holiday, a change of scene.’ Or a new job, or partner, or to appreciate all you’ve already got. In general we find it easier to talk, and think, about our physical health. Sometimes a ‘breakdown’ can be a ‘breakthrough’: the body’s way of telling us that something isn’t right, that something needs to change. If we all felt more able to be honest about mental health, it wouldn’t be so isolating.