Earlier in January I got a message on Twitter from somebody I’d met once or twice in a work capacity.
He wanted to speak on the show about his experience of mental health.
We get a lot of people wanting to talk about their mental health. Many of them are wellness bloggers and celebrities and mental health bloggers and self-appointed advocates. And most of them are very well meaning and do want to help other people.
We are told to talk about mental health but I wonder if many of those talking about it are the right people to help those who need most to be listening.
The recent narrative of minding your mental health by going for a run, or curing depression with turmeric and pineapple juice, and going drug free in favour of a vegan diet, leaves me cold. Yes, there is a problem with reliance on prescriptions where we need talk therapy… but there has to be a realistic assessment of the long term nature of managing a condition and possible recovery.
Anyway, I digress. Michael explained a bit more about his situation. He’s working, married, has two kids he loves. Money worries got on top of him. He grew unable to cope.
Here, finally, is the kind of mental health story I’ve wanted the show to be able to tell. A story that recognises how ordinary mental illness can be, how you don’t need to be special, or traumatised, or abused as a child to have it (although people who suffer mental illness can be all of those things too).
But how mundane it is. How in so many ways it is like other illnesses that can be ‘coming on you’ for a while, suddenly hit you, leave you drained and wrecked… but that you can get treated. By going to your GP, to your hospital and having aftercare.
If you’re suffering, or worried about someone who is, please listen to this. The help is out there. It’s free. The HSE provides it. And it can absolutely work, in the most basic ordinary way that any other disease is treated.
Michael’s words are more powerful than mine, and much more worth listening to. Listen back here: