Knowing When Not to Fight

Not Fighting and Giving Up

A battle from Age of Empires 3.
A battle from Age of Empires III.

If I was to tell you that I wasn’t fighting anymore, invariably you’d think I’d given up, wouldn’t you?  In any of the copious video games that I play – Civilisation 5, Age of Empires III, that sort of thing – if you stop fighting then you’ve effectively surrendered.  To win, you have to defeat the other players; to defeat the other players, you have to fight.  If you know the games in question, you could argue that in Age of Empires II, you can win by building a Wonder of the World or capturing all the religious relics and holding them for a set amount of time, but in order to stop the enemy from taking them, guess what…you have to fight!

If you’re like me and you play similar games, you might think it’s a bit odd for someone to say “don’t fight”.  Almost controversially, that’s exactly what I’m saying to you now.

Don’t fight.

It’s a fine line between not fighting and giving up, but it’s an important differentiation that I think needs to be established.  After all…it’s your life we’re talking about here!

The Fight of Our Lives

Depression, anxiety, bipolar and other mental health struggles have one thing in common: they’re a battle.  Whether it’s pulling yourself out of a dark pit or fighting off a panic attack, or simply getting out of bed in the morning, it’s a fight.  The worst part is that fight lasts from the minute we get up to the minute we go to bed, and sometimes even though the night.  Every minute of every day, we find ourselves fighting battles in our heads.  Regardless of what those battles are, we find ourselves embroiled in them, fighting for control.

It sounds like some kind of epic fantasy story, along the lines of the Wheel of Time or the Lord of the Rings, doesn’t it?  (Please tell me you enjoy those!)

With all those waking moments taken up in the fight of our lives, not much thought is given to the concept of not fighting.  Whether it’s stigma or whether it’s something more, this idea of not fighting is very much akin to the notion of giving up.  Giving up in a mental health battle, as I’m sure you thought when you read those words, means suicide.

Not something we want to consider.

But this notion is wrong.

Picking the Battles to Fight

When I tell you not to fight, I don’t mean give up.  Absolutely not!  Keep fighting with every breath and ounce of energy that you have.  No one deserves to lose that fight.  Instead, I’m telling you to pick your battles.  Choose when to fight.

My example?  It’s comes directly from my journey.  See, I’m convinced that my medication isn’t working as well as it should.  A lot of people would tell me that my expectations of it are far too high, that I’m thinking it will do more than it actually will.  Others will give me that classic line “you’re making a big deal of nothing”.  Charming, really!  My point, though, is that those notions can make me want to fight what my body is telling me.  My body says that the meds aren’t working sufficiently, yet my instinct would be to fight it.  Refuse to go to the doctors, that sort of thing.

But where will that get me?

Similarly, there are people who would fight the idea of going on medication in the first place.  Others will fight the necessity to take a trip to the doctor – a bit like I did originally – trying to convince themselves that nothing’s wrong.  They’ll continue fighting themselves – out of stubbornness or fear or whatever else might be motivating them – and effectively making the problem worse.

It’s all about picking the battles.

Choose Your Battlefield

You are the experts on yourselves, guys.  You know what you can do, what you can’t do and so on.  With that in mind, pick your battles carefully.  Don’t delude yourselves into believing things are fine if they’re not.  Try not to get caught up in spats between other mental health sufferers, because those realistically won’t help anyone.  If there is a treatment plan devised for you, don’t fight it.  Believe me, with only so many spoons to hand, it isn’t worth fighting it.  It will save you energy in the long run.

So pick your battles.

You’re not giving up.

You’re not losing.

Instead, you’re being smart.  Tactical.  Clever.

You’ve got this.  More than you might care to believe.

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Practising Self-Care

Self-care sounds selfish but really it’s anything but! Join me as I talk about how I practise self-care in some conventional forms and why I make sure to pace myself even when on a brilliant day.

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In the Pursuit of a Cure

A Cure for an Ailment

It’s a common thing in today’s society: if we are sick then we go to the doctor and the doctor provides us with a cure.  If anything, the medical world revolves around cures nowadays.  We have cures and medicines for many ailments, don’t we?  In 1897, the first vaccine for the Bubonic plague was developed.  1899, Felix Hoffman developed aspirin.  1992, the first vaccine developed for hepatitis A.  Medicine is constantly evolving.

Cure in a bottle.Despite the many advancements with modern medicines and treatments, there is still a lot of controversy surrounding the topic.  Many people stand for medicine, many stand against it.  There are those who believe that you should accept your own fate or “God’s Will” over your life instead of prolonging it artificially.  Others would say the economic costs of prolonging our lives are too much when the elderly can’t work and pay taxes.  Others still argue on the side of animal rights.

In the world of mental health, people are similarly divided on the topic of medication.  Should you use it?  Should you avoid it?  Some argue that you should use more natural, holistic approaches, such as yoga or therapy.  Others argue that medication is the only effective treatment.  Then you have people like me who come down on the approach that you should find whatever works for you, be it therapy, medication, a combination or something else.

As I say: it’s divisive.

The Focus on the Cure

As beneficial as many of these treatments have been, however, there are still many things that cannot be cured.  Cancer, for example, is one such illness.  Many advancements have been made in that particular field of research but, as of yet, we cannot cure it.  Similarly, there is no cure for an array of mental illnesses.  Depression, anxiety, bipolar…none of these have any kind of magic bullet that can cure us from them.

Which causes a problem.

You see, people are focused on the cure.  Wouldn’t you say?  People are focused on that cure.  There are a lot of people that I come across on social media who give you the “5 step guide to curing your depression” and other such philosophies and remedies.  Even though they don’t cure people, they throw the word in because it grabs attention.  People look for that cure, they look for the answer to their problems.  After all, it’s all about the solution, is it not?

Regardless, those who are struggling with any condition tend to look towards the cure.  What can they get that will alleviate the symptoms that they’re battling?  Is it a pill?  A treatment?  Something else?  Whatever form it takes, that cure is at the top of their priorities.

Yet should it be?

In the Pursuit of a Cure

We pursue those cures like they’re the lost treasure of El Dorado or the hidden knowledge of Atlantis.  It’s become the most important thing that we can think of: curing that illness that we suffer from.  Sometimes we will try anything – conventional and non-conventional methods – to find that magic bullet.  But…what if there isn’t one?

Finding a cure.

That’s right…what if there isn’t one?

Not everything is curable, is it?  I mentioned cancer earlier which, as of yet, remains incurable.  So what if all this time, all this effort that we’re putting in, is actually for nothing?  What if…what if we cannot be cured?

Now I’m not for one minute saying don’t look for the cure.  We should all be looking for that cure.  No, what I’m saying is that we shouldn’t make that our primary focus.  We should be learning how to live with our conditions, learning to manage them without becoming desperate for that cure.  After all, it might not happen.  Our journeys have so much to teach us.  So many things we wouldn’t learn otherwise.  Does that not make the journey more important than the cure?

Find the Cure

Find the cure.  Don’t give up hope.  If you can find it, great.  If not?  Then perhaps use your condition for a different purpose.  Perhaps to help someone else.  Or to do something you wouldn’t normally do.  After all, it’s what you make of it.  But see what you can do.  You might surprise yourself.

Who knows?  In some ways, taking your illness and turning it from a curse to a blessing might be the very cure that you seek…

What do you think?

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Ignorance or Ignoring?

Are People Ignorant or Just Ignoring the Issue?

So often, while I’m scrolling through tweets and doing my interactions on Twitter, I see stories of how people seem to be struggling with how others view mental health.  Too often they are talking about how other people dismiss their struggles as trivial or “all in their head”.  I can’t help but wonder, when reading these, whether it is deliberate.  Are they ignoring the issue?

In the past year, someone I know has gone through a separation.  This separation has been made difficult by the other party effectively burying their head in the sand.  Despite my friend being out of the house for a year or so, the partner still insisted that my friend was going to come back, that they were all going to be happy families again.  My friend has said unequivocally that that will never happen, yet still the ex-partner insists on referring to my friend as “love” and won’t accept that they are completely separated.

Is the ex-partner truly ignorant of the issue?  Or simply ignoring it?

Ignorance

At Pushing Back the Shadows, we are no stranger to ignorance.  We see it every day on our Twitter account, on our Facebook account and on other social media profiles.  Plenty of people don’t seem to understand mental health.  More the hows and whys than anything else, but there is that lack of understanding.  When I see these, I try and offer explanations for some of the things going on.  I try and shed light on those issues.  After all, it’s what we do.

Personally, I find ignorance is excusable to a point.  If you haven’t really come across anything that really requires you to learn about the subject, how can you be expected to know about it?  With mental health, if you don’t really know of anyone who suffers (granted, statistically there will be someone but they might not be open about it) then why would you feel the need to educate yourself?  To a point it is excusable, as everyone has something they need educating about.

But when does it become inexcusable?

Ignoring the Issue

As with my friend’s ex-partner, there comes a time when the ignorance is more than just ignorance.  It’s deliberate.  People who have the evidence put in front of them or have had the problems explained multiple times are ignoring the issue, plain and simple.  Unfortunately, there aren’t two ways about it.  They are burying their heads in the sand, unwilling to accept that their view or their belief is being challenged.  Some perceive mental health to be a load of rubbish and, despite more and more people talking about their struggles, refuse to budge from that stance.  Others realise there is a problem but won’t accept that the person suffering cannot always make a change the way they would want.  They think of it as an issue of laziness, which isn’t always the case.

For people like this, it doesn’t seem to be a case of ignorance, as they have had plenty of opportunities to learn.  It comes down to ignoring the issue, refusing to accept something different to what they believe.  It’s sad that people like this exist, but that’s what makes us all unique and all different.

Ignorance vs Ignoring the Issue

So what do we do with these people?  Those who are ignorant and those who bury their heads in the sand?  Realistically?  We should seek to educate those who are ignorant to the struggles of mental health but not to the point of exhausting ourselves.  We should identify when they are refusing to accept the truth or reality and when they are burying their head in the sand and realise that we’ve tried our best, we can do no more.  As long as we’ve tried, that is what counts.

What do you think?

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When You’re Hurt

I’m Hurt

Has someone ever hurt you?  Whether they’ve done something intentionally or unintentionally, it’s quite easy for us to feel hurt over someone’s actions or inactions.  What do we do with that, though?  How do we move on?  Let’s look.

I feel disconnected from the world and I feel like no one even notices me or cares about me anymore.Thinking about my journey, it’s easy to identify a number of times that I have felt hurt.  My example comes from my church.  I used to be heavily involved in everything and yet when my depression hit and I disappeared, no one really got in touch.  A few people messaged for a few weeks but once it became apparent that this was a long-term problem, people stopped messaging.  It really didn’t do much for making me feel important and, in all honesty, it still hurts.  I thought that it was a church family and yet no one bothered to help me after the first few weeks.

I’m sure you can think of other examples.  Relationships that have broken down, coworkers who have done the wrong thing, even parents or children who have done something wrong.  But what do you do when someone hurts you?  How do you deal with it?

Stuff Them

Wouldn’t that be easiest?  To say “stuff them” (or whatever variation of that you would prefer, as there are quite a few) and try and treat them horribly?  “An eye for an eye” would be quite applicable here, would it not?  Do to them what they’ve done to us, let them know how it feels.  It would make us feel better, teaching them what their actions have wrought.

A lot of people say that doing that would make it all better.  You get to teach them a lesson, you get to exact some form of revenge and you also get the joy of watching them suffer.  Sounds great, doesn’t it?  But is it?

Looking at the world today, I’d say that there is enough of that sort of thing.  How many revenge killings do we see in the news?  Stories of people getting even in some way.  Don’t you think there is enough hurt in this world that we could do with spreading a little bit of the opposite?  It’s harder, true, but so much better.

Don’t Let Them Change You

I don’t know about you but I would say I’m quite a nice person.  When someone hurts me, my first thought isn’t to hurt them back.  Usually, despite it taking a lot of time and considerable amounts of pain, I try and forgive them.  It might just be who I am, but that’s what I do.  Still, that set me thinking: what would happen if I did to them what they’d done to me?  What would that make me?

Don't treat people as bad as they are; treat them as good as you are.My advice to you: don’t change.  Whether you think you’re a nice person or not, if you wouldn’t treat them the way they treated you, then don’t.  As clichéd as it might sound, forgive and forget.  Why should their bad actions turn you into a bad person?  If you wouldn’t do it, then don’t let them change you into someone that you’re not.

If someone hurts you, give them a second chance.  Perhaps give them a third chance.  In fact, give them as many chances as you want to (within reason) to make it right.  If they won’t then walk away.  That’s all there is to it.  Forgiving them is between you and them, as no one else needs to know.  However, don’t let them turn you into something that you’re not.

I know it’s hard when someone hurts you but you have the wonderful opportunity of being better than them.  If you’re not a nasty person, don’t become a nasty person for the sake of revenge.

Take care, guys.

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The Onus pt 3 – The Responsibility Clause

Responsibility of Friends and Family

The Onus.  Those two words carry with them so much importance – an importance that I’ve emphasised.  It’s a duty, a responsibility, one that no one really seems to want to take ownership of.  It’s also one that we must take ownership of.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve talked about the two parts that I believe are crucial for us to understand regarding the onus:

  1. We, as friends and family members, shouldn’t put the onus on the person suffering from mental health issues.
  2. Putting the onus on the sufferer and not keeping in touch can lead to feelings of neglect or feeling like they deserve the isolation.

If you haven’t already read the first two parts of this, I’d recommend that you do so.  In short, though: we shouldn’t be putting the onus on those suffering because they aren’t likely to speak out about what they’re going through.  The potential effect of this can be highly damaging,as they can start to believe that they aren’t worth the time or effort that it would take to send them a message (which is…5 minutes if you type slowly?)

Now, I’ll be honest: this topic has been highly divisive over the months that these posts have been published, because it’s immediately created an argument.  Mental health sufferers have agreed with me, saying that they often feel abandoned and cut off due to people putting the onus on them.  Friends and family, however, have said there is only so much that they can do before they feel like their efforts are being wasted.  If they are met with what seems to be a brick wall, they will give up.

But, as I’m sure you have already guessed, there is another part to this tale…

…the Responsibility Clause.

The Responsibility Clause

What do I mean by this?  Are friends and family responsible for giving up?  Do the mental health sufferers need to be responsible for having the onus put on them?  Absolutely not!  No, the responsibility clause is something different.  In my mind, this is what it would be:

The Responsibility Clause places responsibility on both parties.  For friends and family, they have the duty of care for their loved ones, which includes keeping in touch while recognising the sufferer might not be able to instigate contact themselves.  They should not place the onus solely on the sufferer, using the fact that they have not done something as an excuse to avoid contact.  For the sufferer, the responsibility is theirs to be as honest and responsive as they can.

Does that sound reasonable?  Perhaps you’ve had similar thoughts as you’ve been reading through my posts about the Onus.  Whichever side of the fence you fall on, though, I hope you will agree with me on this part:

We, as mental health sufferers, need to be responsible.

That’s right – I said it!  We need to be responsible.  Naturally, this would be for our own actions or inactions, as we can’t be responsible for what other people do or don’t do, can we?  So we need to be responsible.

Responsibilities Unpacked

So friends and family, we’ve already discussed what ways you can be responsible for yourselves.  Don’t put the onus on the mental health sufferer, as they might not be able to reach out; don’t wait for them to instigate conversation.  It doesn’t mean they don’t care, it means they’re struggling.  So don’t withhold contact just because you haven’t heard from them.  It doesn’t always work that way.

For mental health sufferers, though, be it depression, anxiety, bipolar or any other mental illness, we have two responsibilities: to be honest and responsive.  What do I mean by these though?  Responsive is exactly what it says on the tin: if someone messages us, we should respond.  Granted, it might take us a day or two to do so, but we still have that duty to respond.  After all, why should people continue to message us if we’re not responsive?  I understand, having been there myself, that it can be difficult sometimes to summon the energy or brain power to respond, but that doesn’t lessen our responsibility.  If anything, it makes it more important for the days when we are able to message, when we are able to make phone calls.

Secondly, the honesty part…this one is harder.  Naturally, it means we have to be honest but about what?  Quite simply, our struggles.  We have a tendency, don’t we, to say that we’re fine when asked how we are.  Now while this is a coping mechanism, albeit not the best, we need to try and be more honest.  If we are open with our struggles, friends and family will be able to understand what we’re going through and how to help us, because we can tell them what it is we need.  It’s important that we don’t just brush their attempts off, withdrawing deeper into our own shell.  That, in itself, can be just as bad as the friend or family member not getting in touch.

A Small Footnote

As with a lot of aspects of mental illness, I believe this approach is subjective to each person.  There are those who will have been damaged by the second part of the onus that I’ve mentioned and feel unable to communicate with others.  We should still try, but for some it might not happen.  In terms of honesty regarding our struggles, that should be done as far as we feel able to or comfortable to, because there will be details we won’t feel comfortable sharing.

At the end of the day, both sides do need to take responsibility and work towards better communication and understanding with each other.  Without both sides accepting some of the onus and some of that responsibility, the eradication of stigma and furthering of mental health awareness will not happen.

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Episode 33 – Trudging Through the Sludge


Sometimes life throws a lot of sludge and mud at us and we have to find our way through that.  Trudging through the sludge can be difficult, but here is a take on it that you might not expect.  Why not check it out?

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It’s Just A Song

A Song

You know me, I love a good song.  Music is so great in the way that it speaks and communicates with us in a song that it’s almost therapeutic.  In fact, many people have written and spoken about the wonders of music and how a song can do so much.  Don’t worry, though, this isn’t going to be one of those posts.  Not really.  This one is just about a song…a very particular song.

No, it’s not about Scream by ZOEGirlI’ve covered that one already, telling you about how we sometimes feel we have to bleed to be seen or scream to be heard.  It’s not that one.  This song comes from the great Philippa Hanna, who makes the list of favourite singers for me.

So without further ado (or adon’t – no, I can’t help myself) here is the song!

It’s Just A Song

Seriously, It’s Just A Song is the name of the track.  On Philippa’s album Through the Woods (above), it’s one of the final few tracks, but it’s one of those that resonated with me.  Now, given that it’s a love song, you wouldn’t necessarily associate it with the things I’d listen to.  Believe it or not, though, I can be quite the romantic.  Honest.  Don’t look at me like that…

The song itself is absolutely lovely, though!  A nice, gentle ballad to start us off as Philippa reminisces about the time spent with a former beau on a beach, drinking jasmine tea.  She goes as far as to call it a perfect day.  Sitting on the beach with her beau, with the sun coming out for a moment to light up his face through the rain…it does sound perfect.

Then the reality settles back in.  “Pull of gravity, back to reality now.  Just a memory, locked inside of me, safe and sound.”  Like a tidal wave, it’s come crashing back over us and suddenly we remember that it’s a memory, no more than that.

And then…the chorus.  Hauntingly beautiful, with words that hit home those truths.

“It’s just a song but it makes me feel warm every time I hear it.  ‘Cos each time it plays, I can still see your face in my mind.  From that opening bar, every chord, every part plays a bitter yet sweet déja vu.  It’s just a song but it makes me feel closer to you.”

Who Is It About?

Truth be told, despite digging through the internet to find answers, I don’t know what this song is about.  At first glance, it looks like your typical boyfriend-girlfriend breakup story.  Guy meets girl, they fall in love, then they break up and we have to put the heart back together afterwards.  Really, though, it might not be about that.  For all we know, the boyfriend didn’t leave, he might have died somehow.  Quite simply, we don’t know.  However, there are three important truths that we can take from this, truths that can be applied to the world of mental health.

  1. It might be “just a song” but sometimes the small things can have the biggest impact.
  2. We don’t know what people are going through in their private struggles.
  3. Wait and see!!

So, when you look at those three points, the identity of the person she is singing about becomes relevant yet irrelevant at the same time.  To get to a point of understanding those three points (and yes, I know the third one is unrevealed), we don’t really need to know who she’s singing about.  The person is important, there is no doubt about that, but we do not need to know his identity.

Let’s look, then, at those points.

1. It Might Be “Just A Song”

How many times have you heard people say “oh it’s just a bump in the road” or “it’s just a bad day, it’ll pass”.  Similarly, the song referred to on the radio is “just a song”, yet it can have a far bigger effect than others might give it credit for.  It doesn’t matter how significant or insignificant it might seem to someone else, it matters to us.  It’s an integral part of our struggle.  Naturally, that means it has an effect on us.

So we’re affected by it.  And that’s OK.  We’re allowed to be.  Whether it’s a song, a place we used to visit with someone of importance, a place or object that holds memories for us, we’re allowed to be affected.  It’s part of our struggle, part of what we are going through.  It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  It’s up to us to work through it, even when it feels like “I hear that song again and I’m back to square one again.”

2. People’s Private Struggles

We don’t know who Philippa is singing about, do we?  We assume it’s a boyfriend who has broken up with her, but the truth is we don’t know.  As I mentioned earlier, it might not be a break up, but a bereavement.  We assume it’s a boyfriend, but it might just be a friend.  The point is that it doesn’t really matter who it is, not to us.  Why?  Because sometimes we will always be missing a piece of the puzzle.

Whether we have the answers to our questions or not, others are struggling. That doesn’t mean we need to know, nor does it mean we cannot help them without knowing.  We can help them and support them without knowing everything, but it’s important to remember that sometimes we won’t know everything, that we might not know what’s going on.  Not fully.  And that’s OK.

3. The Surprise Point

My last point that I took from this song is a reminder that I believe is the most important one.  It’s taken directly from the bridge of the song:

Oh I know that there’s life after this, and I know I’m not broken, but sometimes I wonder…

Whatever struggles we are going through, be it depression or anxiety, breakup or bereavement or something else entirely, we still remember that truth.  We know that there’s life after the event.  We know we’re not broken.  Sometimes, though, it’s difficult to hold onto that thought and we might wonder whether or not we are broken, whether there is life after this.

It’s easy for our perceptions to get skewed.

But…

It’s amazing how I’ve managed to get all of these meanings from a track on an album.  After all…

…it’s just a song…

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Just a Trend

Mental Illness is just a Trend

That’s right, you read that right.  I, Alex Davies, founder of a website that promotes mental health awareness and support, just said that mental illness is just a trend.  Do I really believe that?  Of course not!  That said, it’s an interesting topic to consider.  Take a walk with me as I unpack it.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen an increase in people being diagnosed with mental health issues.  Now, this could be partly due to the increases in external pressures and triggers, as some people would say, or it could be a greater awareness and openness for mental health.  In the past, mental health was not something that was widely talked about.  You kept it hidden.  It wasn’t heard of.  Out of sight, out of mind, that sort of thing. Nowadays, however, it’s more widely talked about.  So is it that it is on the increase or is it just that more people are talking about it?  That’s something for the philosophers to debate.

What I’d like to know, though, is whether or not the epidemic is as bad as it seems or whether it is “just a trend”.  (Note that my opinion will come at the bottom, so you’ll have to read on to find it!)

So is mental health a trend that people follow?  Are the people who claim to have mental health issues genuine?  From where I sit, I see three immediate categories that we can put this into:

  1. Genuine Sufferers
  2. People who don’t quite get it
  3. The social media hype types
Genuine Sufferers

This is exactly what it says on the tin: people who are genuinely suffering with some form of mental illness.  They have those day-to-day issues that hinder them, whether that’s getting out of bed, looking after themselves or being unable to leave the house.  Their struggles are real, their issues hamper their everyday activities and they clearly have some form of mental illness.  Note, these are not always diagnosed as, for some, they cannot make themselves go to the doctor but many of them will have been diagnosed.  They might be on medication and they may be undergoing therapy or they may be managing it with alternative means.  Nevertheless, they are struggling.

For genuine sufferers, they face a wall of stigma and judgement that often prevents them from expressing how they truly feel.  They keep it buried inside, fearing that other people would be harshly critical of them or simply not know how to express it.

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People Who Don’t Get It

These are probably the most multitudinous that I’ve come across.  You’ve seen them, I’m sure.  The people who post statuses like: “I have to wait a whole year for more Game of Thrones, I’m so depressed!”  In reality, they aren’t depressed, they’re just a little sad, but they blow it out of proportion.  How often do we see it?  Far too often, I think!

Why am I picking up on this group?  Well, I believe it simply adds to the fog of stigma and judgement around us.  If we can see they’re not really depressed, others can see through it too and it just builds up this wishy-washy idea of what depression actually is.  By associating it with the word, it can create that false image that others will then believe.  For all we know, it could be where this “just snap out of it” rubbish came from…

We see it a lot, though, don’t we: the ones who over-exaggerate this sort of thing.  People who give themselves labels without taking that moment to understand what it means.  What is depression?  What is anxiety?  Is it what they make it out to be – being “anxious for school exams” or “depressed because the latest season of Game of Thrones has ended” – or is it something more?

The Social Media Hype Trend

As I’ve mentioned previously, I do a lot of interactions on Twitter and on other social media sites and I now notice patterns in some of the things that go up.  The most common example is the number of people who post things online – particularly photos – and appear to be fishing for compliments.  Comments like “I’m so ugly” or “I’m no good at anything” or “I’m so fat, I need to diet” and other such things are frequent posts.  The photos that are coupled with them, however, more often than not, contradict what is being said.  Like I said: it’s almost as if they’re fishing for compliments.

Now believe me, this isn’t always the case.  Insecurity is a horrible thing and it might be that they just want someone to give them that reassurance.  However, it’s possible that some do it just for the compliments.  If social media makes it “trendy”, everyone wants to get involved.

Your Turn

Over to you…what do you think?  Do you think I’m right or do you think I’m wrong?  Let me know by leaving a comment.  I’m interested in getting a discussion going here.

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Do You Want to Change the World?

How To Change the World

Make your bed.  I know, not something that sounds very groundbreaking or earth-shattering, but William H. McRaven says that if you want to change the world, start by making your bed.  That way, you will have accomplished the first task of the day.

How often do we, as mental health sufferers, say that we need things to change?  We need people to get on-board and support us through our illnesses.  No one really talks about mental health, it’s too stigmatised, we can’t do it alone, yet no one cares.  How often have you heard those words?  We want to change the world.  We want to raise that all important awareness for mental health so that people will not suffer as we have suffered.  Don’t we?

But how do we do that?

We start by making our bed.  Check out the video below and see what William H. McRaven has to say about that.

Time to Change the World

So do you want to change the world?  Do you really want to change the world?  I think we’ve got everything we need right there to change the world.  Here’s what I took from it:

  1. We need to start by making our bed.  Accomplish the little tasks, that way we will have the courage and the determination to accomplish the bigger tasks but, either way, we will have accomplished something.  No matter how small the accomplishment seems, it is still an accomplishment.
  2. Lift others up.  Encourage them, support them and raise them up.  Empower them to make the change and they will go and make that difference.
  3. One voice became two.  Two voices became three.  So on and so forth.  If we raise our voices together, we can become unstoppable.  Together, we can make that difference but only together.  Only together.  We need to stand as one, joining in that song together so that we can change the world.
  4. Accept that you will fail and that you might fail often.  You will go through relapses.  As long as you don’t stay at rock bottom, you can survive.  You can get through.  It’s alright to fail, as long as you don’t stay there.
  5. Finally, hold onto hope.  As hard as it can seem, hope is there, despite what our mental illnesses tell us.  Hold on, pain ends.  Hope and you can achieve.
The Starfish

I want to leave you with a little story that I think fits in quite nicely here.

Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing.  He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work.  Early

one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching.  As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea.  The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning!  May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

adapted from The Star Throwerby Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

Let’s go change the world!

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.