“Mental health problems don’t define who you are. They are something you experience. You walk in the rain and you feel the rain, but, importantly, YOU ARE NOT THE RAIN.”Matt Haig, Writer
Everyone has mental health. Just as they do physical health. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s not.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
Physical health professionals, GPs, physicians etc, are there to tell us if we’re unwell and what we can do to look after ourselves better. Sometimes with advice, sometimes with medication and sometimes with physiotherapy.
With mental health, we have exactly the same available. Sometimes we are told to exercise, take a break, get some sleep, eat a more balanced diet. Sometimes we are given medication such as anti-depressants, and other times we’re given therapy, counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy etc.
So why do we not talk about it in the same way?
Because we can’t see mental health. Some of us are terrified by it. Many of us don’t like the things we can’t see, so mental health has been portrayed to us by the media for decades as quite fucking scary actually. You know what I mean. All psychopaths are serial killers etc. Certainly not actually…
During my mental health first aid training I was told Psychopaths can be high functioning business people who ultimately have high levels of focus. They don’t enjoy and/or develop human relationships and therefore can be ruthless, which, in turn makes them very successful – made perfect sense to me.
Don’t get me wrong, the media is getting better. More and more conditions are represented now by characters on TV. Soap operas are a prime example. Bipolar sufferer, Stacy Slater in Eastenders for instance. It does seem to have helped a lot of people. However, soap operas need to dramtise for their audiences so you tend to see the most extreme versions of the condition. There are however programmes which represent the conditions perfectly. Apple TV’s Ted Lasso is genius. This article by Buzzfeed tells you what I mean by this. And of course, Ricky Gervais’ Afterlife is a perfect portrayal on how bereavement can affect someone. His open dialogue on feeling suicidal is both touching, heart breaking and funny all at the same time. A rare combination for topics around mental health. We certainly need more of this on TV.
After studying mental health first aid, and overcoming my own mental health struggles – more of this in the blog posts to come – I found my passion. Finding ways to openly talk about mental health and bringing it to the conversation has certainly helped me and others I know. Even the activity of writing down your story can be therapeutic in itself.
So…Insanely Normal is here to help me get some of my stories out of my head as well as giving others a chance to share theirs. A blog where we can all talk about our mental health in a frank, open and safe environment. The same way we do physical health. And a place where people can come and read about experiences similar to their own and understand that they are not on their own.
This is a place where everyone and anyone can share stories of their own experiences dealing with, over coming, recovering or managing mental health. And you are welcome to get involved.
Because you know what? Mental health is insanely normal.