I’m sitting here writing this with an ice pack on my leg while my mum makes me a cup of tea. I fell over and banged my leg, it hurts me to walk and so I’m expected to take care of it and not do anything that causes it further damage.
And it got me thinking, why did I get more sympathy and understanding for a small accidental injury than I received when I was deliberately injuring myself? Why am I comfortable sending photos of my grazed, bruised shin with the caption ‘oops, look what I did’ but I’m going to extreme lengths to hide the self inflicted scars on the same leg?
Mental illness should be treated just the same as any other physical illness or ailment. If you’ve sprained your ankle then you’re not going to run a marathon- it’s completely ridiculous to even consider it. And when your mental illness is causing you troubles, don’t force yourself to do anything to exacerbate it because that is NOT how you get better. That’s not to say you should shy away forever- you have to start walking on your broken leg again at some point, but not until it’s healed and ready.
If the body is damaged, it needs time to rest and recover. Your brain needs the same sympathy and understanding while it heals. There is no shame in taking painkillers, so there should no shame in taking anti-depressants, anti-anxieties, anti-psychotics and so on. There is no shame in seeing a physiotherapist so why is there shame in seeing a counsellor?
Once people start understanding that the brain and body are a unit, that the brain can become ill just like any other organ, the stigma will end. People like myself can stop struggling in silence and we can work together to cope with mental illnesses better.
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