Friday, 11 August 2017

Struggling but surviving

Mental health is a weird topic in the media. It hits the headlines when important people realise that services are underfunded and under-resourced. The mental health of celebrities is examined when they die by or threaten suicide. People's stories are told when they show signs of cures or recovery.

But what about the rest of us?

What about those of us who still struggle with mental illness? Those of us who are struggling but surviving?

It's hard to find an accurate depiction of what it's like to live with a mental illness in mainstream media. These are rare, but a notable example is Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers recurring features on Newstalk. But other than this, I don't know of any other.

Instead, the media cares about sensational headlines and details. They call murderers and terrorists mentally ill. They run documentaries about the dangers of anti-depressants. They make light of celebrity breakdowns for webpage hits. They love stats on suicide attempts, self-harm, the number of people waiting for an appointment, people contacting helplines.
If you read a newspaper, you'd presume that anyone with mental illness is 'off the rails'. They're a danger to themselves and others. They're all either in therapy and or on meds. 
You'd think it's okay to call people with mental health problems a 'nutjob', 'bonkers', 'psycho' and an endless list of other insults. 

Where's the day-to-day reality of mental illness? The accurate portrayal of more 'complex' illnesses like schizophrenia or anorexia?

Where's the personal struggles of not being able to afford to pay for private counselling?

Where's the people who pop out on their lunch break to see their psychiatrist?

Where's the fact that not everyone recovers, but also not everyone who doesn't recover spends their life on a psych ward?

Where's the evidence that tabloids, and people in general, are actually learning from the occasional personal stories they do share and putting that learning into practice?

The lack of realistic coverage in the media fuels the stigma around mental illness.

I want to hear about those who are living with mental illness. How are they surviving?

Perhaps this is why so many people struggling with their mental health have turned to blogging about it. There is an incredible amount of mental health bloggers out there. I've lost track! There are too many for me to even follow them all! It's a movement, it's moving, and it's brave. We want there to be an accurate depiction, a real voice out there. So many of us are dare to bare all online.

I'm angry at the media for what they continue to do to people like Sinead O'Connor. She should not be ridiculed. I'm angry that they don't care, on our worst days when care is what we need most.

I'm struggling but surviving. And when there's no fair representation in the media, it often feels like I'm doing it alone.

Until next time,

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