I sat down in my local cafe this morning, as I do most Saturday mornings, with Mr. Neon and baby Neon. I rarely read the paper or any of the magazines here, most often opting to work on one of the billion things I have up in the air at the moment (thesis, upcoming article series for PhD2Published, Hikesia, job documents etc.) This morning, however, I picked up a magazine which asked – in bold pink on its cover – how the Kardashians sold themselves to make their money. I actually didn’t read this article (although I was pleasantly surprised at the affordable price of the clothes they were wearing, all around £20-£40). Instead I skimmed the article before it, which was about the over prescription of antidepressants in Britain at the moment. Or perhaps it was more focused on the over diagnosis of mental illness, either way.
I have never shied away from the fact that I have suffered from, at times, quite severe depression. The birth of my daughter was induced because I was so depressed, and was already on the maximum dose of antidepressants that they would give me while pregnant. I have been taking antidepressants (more specifically the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor Citalopram) for several years, at various doses. In my teenage years I suffered from eating disorders, and was also put on antidepressants at that time.
My struggles in depression have, in many ways, been both typical and atypical. I have no problem with the fact that I may be on antidepressants for the rest of my life. I would rather that than live in darkness. Although there are definite triggers for both my depressing and my continuing food-related struggles, I do not think that either is based on any specific event or circumstance in my life. I have had a large amount of therapy, which I have found very useful. At the end of the day, my biggest problem is that my brain produces the wrong mix of chemicals.
I am not ashamed of my depression. I think that mental illness has a stigma because we make it have a stigma. We, the sufferers, are ashamed – and we have no reason to be.
We provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. We campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
I don’t want to spend too much time talking about what Mind do, because they can say it better than I can, and their website is full of useful, easy to understand information. I will say this: because of the stigma (self imposed or not) of mental health issues, sufferers need a strong advocate. Mind not only provide much needed support and advice for those suffering from mental health issues, but they act as an advocate for all those sufferers, campaigning for better conditions, better support, more NHS support, easier access to various therapies. But (almost) more importantly, they are helping to break down the stigma that surrounds mental health problems.
What am I doing? Well, running 50kms though London’s Royal Parks on October 6th. This will be my last long run before October 19th Round Rotherham 80km.
What can you do? Well, you can sponsor me HERE (please remember to also add Gift Aid for UK tax payers!). You can also come on on October 6th and plonk yourself somewhere on the course and watch me triumph/suffer around 50kms of London’s parks and paths.
Whatever you do, remember: mental health issues are serious, and people who suffer mental health issues deserve the same support and respect as anyone else. Don’t stigmatise metal health.