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How often have you watched in horror as the life drains out of that fun-loving person you know? How often have you watched in shock as a once vibrant person fades into a shadow of their former selves? How often have you heard the relentless, not-so-private sobbing behind the bedroom door? How often have you stood, scratching your befuddled head as a tsunami of distress crashes about your ears? How often have you seen someone’s mood turn on a dime?
What have you done when you have observed theses shifts and changes?
Warp speed shifts in behaviour and emotions can be a sign that things have gone off the mind health rails. Unrelenting hopelessness tag teaming with lethargy and tears can be signs that the black dog of depression has taken up residence. The thing I find really scary is that it only takes one person to launch an avalanche of public stigma. One person’s behaviour negatively reported in the media stops people living with mental illness from sharing their story. Living with the likes of depression brings enough challenges. Being called ‘soft’ or any other sledges you care to think of has a particularly damaging impact on men living with mental illness. One unthinking, ill-informed person lacking in awareness sledging a fellow sports person who has talked about their mental health challenges publicly is all it takes. Only the slightest echoing of that sledge sends the message that it’s not ok to have a mental illness and it sure as hell is not ok to talk about it openly.
When this kind of public stigma runs unchecked, people who might have been thinking about going and getting help go to ground. They remain one of the 65% of people with a mental illness who remain untreated. They can become one of the 1,500 people a day in Australia who think about suicide. They can become one of the seven people who die by suicide every day in Australia. Would you like to be known for contributing, however minimally, to those statistics? I know I wouldn't. A lack of understanding of depression as an illness not an emotion has a lot to answer for. It’s often said, and I say it as well, it can be hard to understand depression if you've never experienced it.
My standing invitation to anyone who doesn't understand and wants to know more about what it’s like call me. If you want to know more but don’t know anyone who talks openly and comfortably about mind health and mood disorders call me. I am on a mission! One willing person at a time!
Because your Mind Health Matters…