If you’ve ever suffered with a mental illness there are a number of phrases you get to hear with mindless repetition. My personal favourite is the “don’t be ridiculous” which highlights the complete lack of understanding of the stater whilst managing to completely demean the sufferer.
The great Buck Up however is the desire of those around us who genuinely want us to “get over it” but who, like us, have limited knowledge and don’t know how to help.
There seems to be a continuing belief that because clinical depression and anxiety are stimulated by “imagined” or “unseen” triggers it must be an intellectual problem. And, whilst we’ve come a long way from locking depressed people up in asylums unnecessarily, our society still has a tendency to isolate them socially because of it’s limited knowledge.
When depression and fear symptoms take hold of us we not only lose interest in participating in life we feel that no-one wants us anyway. The isolation becomes consuming and self fulfilling. We might even indulge in self destructive behaviours that make us less likeable in the misguided belief that they will alleviate the ever increasing internal agony.
The continual roller-coaster ride between feeling okay and then not being unable to get out of bed creates a perception that we’re “lazy” and if we’re brave enough to share, we become “oversensitive”. These labels, like many others, are easy for us to wear because in reality we just want to be “normal”. But the reality is, that having a mental illness makes everything harder. There is no cure. No time frame. And no inevitable release from the pain.
However, more and more the medical evidence is pointing toward our biochemical activity as a determining factor for mental illness. This means the chemicals that stimulate the areas of our brain that have been designed to generate responses to particular stimuli, are affected. Our chemical production, stimulates our brain without the stimuli being physically present. For everyone around us we are “imagining” it. However, no imagination is necessary.
If you’ve ever been told to buck up, get over it, stop it, think about other things or to stop being ridiculous then you’re in fine company. The great buck up doesn’t discriminate between mental illnesses or people. It doesn’t mean you’re not “normal” and it doesn’t mean you’re not valuable. It just means that there are a lot of people out there who understand less about mental illness than we do and we probably need to be kind to them!
Deb Shugg is an awarded business woman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety. To contact Deb click here.
If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor. If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.