Lots of people care about mental illness, I know that.
But it’s a sad truth that many of these people either suffer with mental illness themselves or care about someone who does.
Because really, if something doesn’t affect you or the people around you, you don’t understand it – and therefore you find it hard to empathise with.
But it’s not empathy people with mental health issues are looking for – it’s respect and understanding, which is completely lacking because of people who refuse to want to take time out of their day to believe that people can struggle mentally.
The issue is that so many people with mental illness are afraid to speak out because they’re worried they’ll face judgement. They worry that they won’t be believed or that they’ll have to attempt to justify their feelings just so that they’re acknowledged.
While it’s so easy to tell someone to ‘speak out’, seeing someone actually speaking out can be a whole other story.
Take Sinead O’Connor, for example. In a recent viral video, she sat in an empty motel room crying for help, screaming out for her family to look at how lost she was, struggling so badly that she’d even contemplated taking her own life.
Immediately, people commented on the video telling Sinead how wonderful she was and how they wanted to help – but alongside the copious amount of postitive messages lay the few comments from people who make those people struggling with mental illness afraid to speak out.
‘What have you got to cry about, you’re rich?’ seemed to be a common theme amongst the negative comments.
Apparently, people don’t quite understand that mental illness doesn’t only apply to those who may not be as financially stable.
People don’t choose mental illness, mental illness chooses you – rich or poor, it doesn’t matter.
But because of the common misunderstanding, people are actually afraid to talk about their illness because if they’re not homeless, living a bad home life or look okay from the outside, they should have ‘nothing to cry about’.
The funniest thing of all is that the world is full of a bunch of hypocrites.
If you go through your social media, most people are too busy posting selfies of themselves or tagging their friends in memes to step back and talk about mental health.
The odd post you do see about mental illness is often ignored, with people assuming that person must be ‘seeking attention’ to have posted it online for all to see. Yep, we assume they’re ‘seeking attention’ instead of ‘crying for help’.
But it’s a whole different story when someone actually takes their own life.
Take Chester Bennington for instance. He devastatingly took his own life and instantly people took to social media to share suicide hotline after suicide hotline.
While this was great and hopefully helped some people, I couldn’t help but ask why it took someone actually ending their own life to want to help.
Why had it taken something so extreme for people to want to do something about it?
Why don’t we realise how serious mental health is until it’s too late?
Most importantly: Why is it that it takes something visual to make people realise how dangerous mental health can be?
And this, this is exactly why people are too scared to speak out. Because they’re afraid of what people will say. Because they’re afraid that because people can’t see it, people won’t believe you’re sick.
Because they’re afraid that instead of receiving help, they’ll be mocked or judged.
Because people don’t realise. People don’t realise how badly mental illness can affect you.
How lonely it can make you feel. How empty you can become inside and ultimately how easy it is to lose yourself to feelings of nothing but negativity.
People don’t realise, because they don’t want to take the time to understand – even though understanding could make those living with mental illness so much more at ease in terms of seeking help from those around them.
Because, the bottom line is, the people who don’t want to understand would rather assume.
Because, sadly, it’s easier that way.