Okay, so this post is going to be very different to anything I have done before. Quite frankly, I'm very hesitant to even write this but after the events on Sunday night, I feel I must get things off my chest. I'm going to try my best to keep it short and not ramble.
As some of you may have seen a well known company featured a pillow that contained the words
"I can't keep calm and carry on because I have an anxiety disorder"
Now you will notice that I haven't actually mentioned the company in question or showed you said item, the reason being is that I don't feel that's what is important in discussing this. You see I am finding this to be a recurring theme with companies at the moment. There seems to be this odd obsession with clothing companies mocking mental health problems or, even weirder, trying to make them fashionable.
From tshirts with the word 'depression' and 'eat less' printed all over them to cards that say 'don't get mad, take lithium.
I appreciate that some people will not be offended by these statements. Infact, good on you for not letting it get to you (I wish it hadn't upset me) but you cannot ignore the problems these products bring up.
In the UK, a statistic from the Mental Health Foundation, shows that a quarter of the population will experience a mental health problem in the course of a year. Anxiety and depression being the most common. So why is there still this stigma and lack of understating about these problems.
Why does society seem to treat mental health problems differently from, say a, psychical illness?
Why does it come so easy to some people to laugh and call someone 'crazy' or 'mental'?
We wouldn't think it was right to have a t-shirt mocking someone with diabetes or cancer. So when did it become acceptable to openly mock and make light of someone's mental health.
As someone who has suffered and still does with mental health concerns stuff like this gives me absolute mix of emotions. It angers me, it saddens me and it also makes me feel ashamed. Too many people are scared to talk about how they are feeling and I feel like stuff like this just does not help. It's making light (and money) off of someone's suffering. That is just not right and needs to stop.
You may say I am overreacting and that it's just a silly product... but it's what it represents is the problem. A lack of understanding and awareness.
From someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder, I no way think my illness is 'cute', 'cool', 'quirky' or 'fun' but for some reason, the pillow that I am talking about, tried to make it look like that.
Being too upset and scared to leave your house is not fun.
Panicking over the thought of having a panic attack is not cute.
Worrying and over thinking everything all day long is not cool.
Crying because something isn't 'perfect' is not quirky.
So can some people please stop treating it like it's just a funny little part of someone's personality. Trust me, it's something I don't wish on anyone.
I'm not saying I am expert on this matter or because I feel this way, you should too. I would hope one thing we can all agree on is this belittling of Mental Health Illnesses is not right and needs to stop.
Sorry if I am rambling on this. It's not a post that is coming easy to me at all but I felt it was important for me to do.
Next year, I will be running the Kilomathon for SAMH (Scottish Association For Mental Health). I want to try raise awareness and show others who are going through stuff like this that they shouldn't feel ashamed.