At a time in the world where I believe we are striving for equality in so many areas of life, be it for the colour of our skin, our gender, sex, religion, career, disability (I apologise for the things I have missed here), I think it’s time to sit up and listen to the need for equality between physical and mental health. Yes, the body can kill you with Cancer and other horrible diseases, but then so can the mind; in the UK in 2018, there were 6,507 deaths by suicide (a rate of 11.2 deaths per 100,000 people). Statistics show that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England.
Mental health should not be separated from physical health; treating the two as linked and equal is critical for progress since the two are both closely related. Physical pain can have a bearing on our mental health and vice versa. For example, there is increasing evidence that IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is linked with psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety and stress.
Physics was never my strong point at school. Newtons 3rd law says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. When these forces (which are opposite directions) work together, they bring balance or equality. So, if you sit on a chair the weight of your sitting down is equal to the force of the chair pushing up. (Well maybe not with the weight I have put on during lockdown!) Obviously if the chair isn’t sturdy enough it can break! But with the right size chair to hold your weight… the balance will always be equal.
Well, perhaps we should apply some physics to the matters I mentioned above. Quite often when bringing about change, many are pushing to be heard with a lot of people who run away and refuse to listen whilst holding on to old, outdated views. If there were to be a balance found between the two like Newtons law, then things could be harmonic! Rather than running away, listen, absorb, and try to learn in order to support. Human nature is a long way from finding this sort of balance with so many things sadly.
Now, rant over, the point in all this is my passion to shake some mental health stigma. What I would like to point out is that finding better balance between physical and mental health is long overdue. Things have been unequal for decades and many people are slow to come to the realisation that people truly suffer with mental health issues which deserve to be treated with the same respect and measure as physical health.
Some still consider mental health illness to be a ‘weakness’ and others even blame people for it. I know of people who didn’t so much as send me a ‘get well ‘card whilst I was in hospital because they were cross with me apparently! It seemed they believed that I had brought my accident and injury upon myself. I hope they enjoy my book!
Now whilst I feel very lucky that I don’t struggle with chronic daily mental health issues there are so many that do. It is shocking that these people are hindered from the opportunity of a better quality of life and/or possibly healing due to social stigma and/or not being treated in the right way.
Statistics show that people are slow to seek help and find support for poor mental health. They are scared to be open and honest for fear of old-fashioned views and judgements by those who don’t understand because they have no direct experience of mental health themselves and, heaven forbid, even by those that do suffer from mental health illness themselves (worse in my opinion).
The mind is a complex and sometimes mis-understood entity which works best when it is in harmony with the body and spirit. The first step for many is to feel ‘safe’ to allow their pain or trauma to be revealed. This can then help them to learn to be ‘kind’ to themselves, accept and embrace their difficulty; to understand that they are not weak, and that they can absolutely find their happy place or a place of stability from that point forward. There is always hope.
Writing my book was my healing process for the episodes of psychosis that have happened in my life. They were few are far between, caused by stress, but nonetheless extremely serious on the scale of mental health conditions. If it makes a difference to someone who has found it hard to accept their own difficulty with mental health, I will be very happy.
If anyone learns something from reading how I overcame BOTH physical and mental trauma (at the same time) and find compassion and understanding they didn’t have before then I will also be happy. Overall, I hope my book demonstrates how life teaches us lessons in the midst of adversity, and that we must always look for the things to be grateful for. The message is one of hope, positivity and healing.