Why are we capable of viewing horrific images of Syrian war zones, but not having a serious conversation about mental health?

Why are we capable of viewing horrific images of Syrian war zones, but not having a serious conversation about mental health?

Flick on your news. Wait ten minutes. Make a brew. Keep watching.

I guarantee that in this time you will have witnessed some horrific image of some warzone half way across the globe. At one point, it was chilling. Everyone remembers the image of that young boy in the back of an ambulance, it stuck with us all. But now we just pass it by, we’ve become accustomed to such horror- a desensitised generation.

So how is it that when I tell people I used to take pills to make my head work, it’s greeted with a bigger reaction than when we view those scenes on the news? How are we capable of viewing countless crying children and hundreds of distraught mothers without a blink of an eye but the second it comes to discussing a problem that 1 in 4 of us will experience we can’t do it. Everyone starts tip toeing around. Fucking hell, better not say something to upset the mental kid, eh?

Granted, this whole thing has got a lot better over the last few years. Campaigns like HeadsTogether, MIND, SANE and various others have all made talking about these things easier. But there’s still a glaring hole in how we talk about it. If we had an imaginary scale of 1-10, where 1 was “oh you get sad sometimes?” and 10 was “oh wow you experience mania and you can’t tell if your surroundings are real or not” anything above a 3 seems to be the cut off point.

Anyone that’s experienced a mental health condition that limits them in any way knows that it’s possibly the least quirky thing about them. Sure, it’s quirky that sometimes you get sad but it really isn’t that funny when you look at yourself in the mirror and can’t decide whether or not it’s you. It’s fucking terrifying.

But it kinda comes with the territory doesn’t it. Mental health literally pushes the boundaries of the normal person’s reality. You experience stuff that by any other criteria is absurd. The amount of time’s I’ve justified having to do/not do things because that’s just the way it is in my head is ridiculous, and at my worst I was only about a 6 on my imaginary little scale. God help people who have had it worse. But for some reason we’re still only okay discussing the more ‘tame’ (and I use that word lightly) aspects of our mental health. If anything is too serious, or is a condition that can’t be summed up as anxiety or depression, we are unable to talk about it properly.

I can’t help but look at the popularity of various pop culture that deal with mental health and think would it have its same status if it tackled the issues in an undiluted manner. I’m not sure if it would have the same popularity, but it sure would do a lot more too actually help people, instead of glamorising them.


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