The amount of awareness around mental health in the last few years is a good thing. It’s been really heartening to see people talking about mental health so much more than when I was first diagnosed. I had no idea that such a thing existed, and no way to access others suffering with the same problems. I felt very alone.
Now though, there’ s an internet full of people who know what’s it like to have fear and sadness rule your life. There are books about it, youtube videos about it, blogs about it…so much information… And while that can be a good thing, it also comes with its dangers.
I’m listening to Matt Haig’s book Reasons to Stay Alive at the moment on audiobook. Whilst it does have some good information, and its especially good to see a man talk about depression, I also have some reservations about the book.
At the beginning he gives a disclaimer that everyone has a different experience of depression, different symptoms and different things that help them. However, during the book, several times (so far) he makes blanket statements about how depression makes “you” feel. He also expresses his negative opinion about anti-depressants a couple of times as well. I find both of these things troubling.
This book isn’t the only place I’ve seen this either. I’ve also seen in on social media. I can understand people wanting to share their experiences, and doing so is a really good thing…I think most of the problem is with language. We need to be really careful how we state things.
The other danger with sharing so much about mental health, especially with anxiety, is making sure we remember that there’s a difference between the emotion anxiety, and anxiety disorders. No one knows how someone feels behind social media, how anxiety is affecting their life. But I do know that creating the misconception that an evening of “self-care” can treat an episode of anxiety creates a dangerous idea that those who, say, can’t work because their anxiety is so debilitating, aren’t genuine. Or could treat their anxiety if they really want to.
I suppose my message is that be careful with your language. Be careful with the impressions you’re giving online. Keep sharing, keep speaking out, because the more wider society can see that there are so many different levels and experiences of mental health the less judgement there will be.