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Friday, 21 July 2017

7 reasons why it can be hard to talk about mental health...

As I have explained in other posts, I am in constant conflict between speaking and silence. Here are some of the reasons why it's hard for me to talk:

Drawing by me from a few years ago. 

1. The platitudes. 
It can really hurt when people respond by saying things like 'choose happy' and 'have you tried positive thinking?'. It can make you feel as if you deserve the suffering you may be experiencing.

2. The pity 
Having someone show pity to you can be an awful experience and can make you feel despondent and disempowered. Secondly, it might not match your experience of your life- see my post 'BPD is not being an unhappy person'. 

3. The 'push away'
When someone responds with 'oh okay so I guess I will see you when you feel better' or, 'let me give you some space'. This only serves to deepen any shame I may have lingering around my mental health conditions and increase any sense of rejection or the loneliness of going through a mental health condition.

Drawing from a comic by me

4. The 'get help' 
When someone constantly says empty words like 'get help' or 'reach out'. This tends to highlight that this person has no idea how it feels to be deeply entrenched in an eating disorder (as I was, once upon a time, as you can read here) and how hard it can be to understand what's happening, let alone communicate that to someone. And that's with the presumption that someone will even listen, and then understand.

Secondly, this can show a huge lack of awareness around the challenges of accessing appropriate support and/or mental health services. Telling someone 'get help' is rarely effective. Supporting someone to access help, or to talk about their feelings around asking for help (or feeling worthy of help), might be helpful for some people.

Drawings from my sketchbooks. 

5. The disbelief
This is when what you are saying doesn't match up to the person's idea of what a mental health condition is or who it might affect. Sometimes stereotypes block a person's ability to see what's happening, or to listen to what someone is saying.

6. The fear 
This can be fear of exposure, loss of confidentiality or anything else where the person feels like what they say might compromise their control. For example, calling mental health services might feel scary, because you might not know what will happen to you as a result of disclosing certain things. There can be fear over jobs, social rejection, discrimination etc.

Drawing by me

7. Judgement
Sometimes talking about mental health can lead to misinformed people making judgements- of character, of professional ability or ability to do something else. In and of itself, a disclosure about mental health should never be grounds to judge a person's capacity. What is important is the well-rounded picture of the whole person...which some people close their ears to once they hear certain key words that spark off their prejudices.

Picture of one of my Mental Health zines

Talking about mental health with the right people has been the most liberating thing I've probably ever done. But it can be so hard to do, and I have had to deal with all of the above responses countless times.

If you enjoyed this post, you might like my recent post on talking about suicidal thoughts.
I continue to open myself up because I refuse to be silenced. I would love to hear your experiences and let me know what you would like to see on this list. Tweet me @TalkingAboutBPD

Drawing by me. 

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