After trying to type the intro to this post in a delicate way many times over, I’m just going to come out and say it: I don’t like “single day events” that are dedicated to mental health. This isn’t to say I don’t think talking about mental health is important. I absolutely do, but as someone with mental health issues I find it belittling to have the general populous designate a “safe day” to talk about something that’s literally life or death.
I appreciate the intention behind “days” like “mental health awareness day” and “R U OK” day. I understand logically that it’s well intentioned, but for me I just feel uncomfortable talking about my feelings on days like this, like as someone who’s mental state is part of the discussion I’m expected to weigh in and share, because it’s the “safe day”.
(I just want to add a disclaimer here that I know there are others who suffer from mental health issues that don’t share my thoughts and feelings about this subject and who find days like these to have a positive impact on them. My word isn’t the be all and end all, after all I can only come at topics from my tiny experience in this massive world)
I think the thing that upsets me the most about “days” is that it masquerades as a solution without hitting the systemic nail on the head. My interpretation of the problem is as follows: Talking about mental health is hard and uncomfortable, so here’s a “safe day” for “everyone” to discuss the issue, but once that day is over “everyone” can go back to not talking about these problems because it’s easier.
The sad truth of the matter is it’s only easier to sweep discussing mental health under the rug until someone dies. The end of a life makes it real, because the saddest reality is that one or two days of national support doesn’t make the other 363 days a year a supportive place to talk about the feelings that overwhelm you, or an ease the anxiety or shame that accompanies asking for help.
There are two people who have made me feel safe to talk openly and honestly about my mental health. Beckie J Brown (through her youtube channel Trichjournal) and Rachael Maria Cox (They’re a nonbinary singer songwriter with a killer band and sing/talk about feelings on the reg). The biggest thing that they have in common is that they talk about mental health all the time. They talk about what they’ve experienced, how it affects them, how they received help, how to go about finding health (etc.) They make the discussion an all the time thing, like it should be.
I started listening to a podcast called “No Feeling Is Final” the other day (mental health awareness day to be exact). Something the host Honor talks about is the simplification of the message about mental health (which I feel “days” perpetuate). “Just ask for help”. It sounds so easy, but it’s not. You spend so much time, energy and money searching for a solution, because asking for help isn’t a one time thing. It’s a full time job.
The last time I spent an extended period “asking for help” I had to take a sabbatical from the help I was seeking because the process of “getting well” was wearing me thin. Nobody tells you that “asking for help” might not lead to you getting better, because that’s not what’s easy to talk about.
So yeah, those are some thoughts I’ve been having over the past few days. After my whole pessimistic spiel, I will say I think society is slowing getting better at talking about the hard things. Social change is a hard process, but (fortunately) it doesn’t stop it from happening. (doesn’t make me any happier about “days” though ;P)
On a lighter note I made a dress! The dress I’m wearing in these here photos to be exact! It’s yet another item I’ve made to fit into my collection of pyjamacore clothing (defined loosely as clothes that look “presentable” but feel like pyjamas)
When I’m having a bit of a time with my brain, loose fitting clothing helps my existence to feel less claustrophobic, which is precisely why a lot of my recent sewing has been geared towards roomy fits (a stark contrast from me of 4 years ago with “snug” fits)
Final note: I certainly talked about some stuff in this post, and it may bring up feelings about your own stuff. If that’s the case, there is help avalible!
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
Headspace on 1800 650 890
QLife on 1800 184 527
(And finally for my musician peeps) Support Act 1800 959 500