Tuesday, 12 August 2014
More than depression.
I feel like sometimes as a society we get ourselves in a bit of a pickle. One particular pickle I feel we are pushing ourselves into is that as we raise awareness for mental health and mental illness we seem to be predominantly using depression as the example. I'm in no way trying to diminish the difficult that depression is or say that stigma doesn't need fighting, but there is more to mental health and mental illness than depression.
I have a mental illness and my diagnosis is not depression or anxiety. I have borderline personality disorder, commonly shortened to BPD and also known as Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. It's not rare, around 1 in 100 people have it. But lots of people don't have any idea what it is. There are plenty of other illnesses too, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, generalised anxiety disorder, post-natal depression, psychosis, just to name a few.
When I first went to my doctor to talk about my mental health the only thing talked about was depression, which was something I struggled to feel I completely had. As someone with BPD my emotions change quickly and are very intense, which does include periods of deep difficult emotions that bring on a period of depression, but it includes intense anxiety, and other very intense emotions.
People need to be aware that mental illness is more than just depression, there are many different ways mental illness can affect you, and many different diagnoses. Also, mental health (and I mean having positive mental health) is more than just a lack of depression, there's a lot more to it than that. You can not have depression and still struggle with your mental health.
Another thing I want to share is that depression isn't the only thing that causes suicide. Suicide isn't very well understood, because you can't ask someone why they decided to do it, but a lot of the time we are told people do it because of depression, which may sometimes be true, but there can be many more things that lead suicide.
So please, don't expect all people suffering with mental illness to fit the box of depression, and don't make assumptions of how we should struggle, everyone's struggle is different, and depression is not the only struggle.