A few years ago I broke an ankle, I fell down 3 steps (it was a dim stairwell) on my TAFE campus and next thing I knew I was on the floor with my handbag and study materials surrounding me. I didn’t know it was broken for a couple of weeks as I honestly thought it was just a sprain, so when I finally decided to see my doctor it came as a shock when he sent me off for x-rays. I actually found out I had an avulsion fracture when I was in Sydney at an event for ReachOut after I had spent all day on my feet. So, I got to spend 13 weeks in a moonboot along with regular physio appointments and having to do daily exercises. Random people would ask me what I did when they saw me in my moon boot, they wanted to know how my treatment was going, what my physio was saying, the exercises I was doing and how long until it would be fully healed, it became a point of daily conversation.
Compare that experience to living with a mental illness. I’ve not had nearly as many questions about my mental illness since getting diagnosed compared to the number of questions I had when I broke my ankle.
It seems almost taboo to talk about mental illness and mental health in general. The moment you say you have a psychologist appointment people have no idea what to say. It’s not acceptable conversation to talk about medication side effects or increases in dosages or even finding a psychologist. You’re seen as weak or broken if you bring up the fact that you have a mental illness let alone take medication. No one asks how your psych appointment went or if you’re trying a new kind of therapy, it just isn’t spoken about.
Maybe this is because mental health is invisible? But it’s perfectly normal to talk about your low iron or blood pressure even though they are invisible. Or because no one really knows how to approach someone struggling with a mental illness? Maybe no one knows how to start these conversations? Or people are afraid if they bring it up, they will be crossing a line?
The only way we can get to the point of treating mental health like physical health is if we talk about it more. Be honest with each other and open about sharing how you’re going mentally, don’t hide the fact that you see someone for your mental health if you do and remember that we all have down days and days where we feel like we can’t face the world.
We see a physio when our bodies hurt and this is no different than seeing a psychologist when our minds hurt.
Feel free to drop by, just say, ‘Hey Erin’ in strict confidence and you can be anonymous if you wish. Or, do not hesitate to leave a question in the comments below any time