Mental illness is not confined to anxiety and depression

We think we’re destigmatising mental health issues by talking about anxiety and depression more, when we’re really just destigmatising anxiety and depression more, and that’s it.

I can tell you that a lot of people are going to read that sentence and think, “And?” or “What’s she talking about?” You probably thought I messed up what I was trying to say, or maybe you don’t think there’s anything wrong with that sentence. Anxiety and depression are mental health issues, right? Yes, but mental health issues are not confined to anxiety and depression.

You could argue that anxiety and depression are the more talked about illnesses because they’re the most common ones, but we don’t know just how true that is. More often than not, mood disorders that show any signs of depression, such as bipolar disorder, are put down to just that – depression. It can take years for doctors and even patients themselves to realise that there is something more to their problem.

As I said, patients can go undiagnosed for years, because they don’t really know that they have a problem. Personally, I know how that feels. I went until the age of fifteen before realising that there was something wrong with me, that this crippling anxiety I’d been feeling my whole life was not normal. Why didn’t I realise? Well, because nobody ever talked about it. Ten years ago, anxiety was still a taboo. People weren’t sure if it was a real thing, they looked down on people who had it, they didn’t understand it, and they were scared of it. And while I’m so glad that moves have been made to destigmatise anxiety and make my life that little bit easier, I can’t help but think about the people who still have a mental illness that nobody talks about. I can’t help but think about the forgotten side of mental health.

Unfortunately the likes of borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder still have a huge amount of stigma attached to them. People forget that they are a part of the group of mental illnesses, and they know little to nothing about them. Because they know nothing about them, the people who have to live with these illnesses every day are afraid to talk about them. And because they’re afraid to talk, nobody is learning.

When there’s so little information given to us about these illnesses, how are people supposed to recognise that they have a problem in the first place? Would you know the signs of borderline personality disorder if you had them? Most people wouldn’t. Oftentimes, patients are only diagnosed when their illness gets to an advanced stage, and this is what helps make up the negative stigma attached to the illness.

And that’s not the only thing that creates negative portrayals of mental illness. Patricia R. Owen conducted a study on the portrayals of schizophrenia by entertainment media, and in this study of more than 40 movies (released between 1990 and 2010) she discovered that over 80% of characters who were schizophrenic showed violent behaviour, and almost a third displayed suicidal behaviour. This portrayal that people with schizophrenia are dangerous is wrong, and it’s having a detrimental effect on sufferers who are afraid to speak out for fear of having this label slapped on them.

People have a fear of the unknown, but we can help them with that. By speaking out more about the less commonly known mental illnesses, we can break the stigma attached to them and help sufferers feel more at ease when talking about them. We think we’re destigmatising mental health issues by talking about depression and anxiety more, but we need to speak more about mental illness as a whole. We can’t keep leaving certain issues out because we’re afraid of the unknown.

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Opportunity is the bird that never perches

My problem in life is that I want to have it all, it always has been and probably always will be. I want to be the best, I want to work the hardest, I want to get the best results. And the problem here? The reason that I’m writing this blog post? Well I’ve strived to be the best, I’ve worked really hard and I’ve gotten some pretty good results. I had a bit of a dilemma, where all my trying had paid off BUT… I was being offered everything that I wanted, all at once.

A big part of my course is our work placement, I’ll be doing a six month stint from January to June next year to get some hands on experience in the world of Journalism. A couple of weeks ago I had an epiphany, the God’s had spoken and I’d decided what I wanted to with my life. I was adamant I’d pursue a career in broadcast journalism, be it television or even radio presenting. I contacted a local radio station and, shocker alert, they were happy to take me on for the full six months. So everything was going smoothly for me, and then there was a spanner thrown into the works…

Back in September I’d decided I wanted to try news writing. There’s just something appealing about being a news writer, you know? Those women on RTÉ really look like they have their shit together – smart, sensible, admirable. Believe it or not, I want to be sensible someday too. I talked to a newspaper back home who said they’d be happy to take me on, but as per usual I wanted that little bit more. I knew the Limerick Leader was a fantastic placement down here, it’s probably one of the best ones available. So I applied, thinking nothing of it really. I thought to myself, “Sure all I write about is boys that don’t like me, I can’t be good enough for news.”opportunity

I had that same thought the night before the interview, but a friend reassured me that if I wasn’t good enough for the job, I wouldn’t be getting interviewed in the first place. And for some reason, that really helped, because heading into that room I wasn’t one bit nervous. Yes me, the Queen of anxiety, not one bit nervous about my first ever job interview. I’m still a bit puzzled about that one. Anyways, I’m assuming my confidence that came from God-knows-where shone through, because I got offered the placement straight away. Shocked? Me too.

Then the doubt started to kick in. What if I’m not good enough for news? But SHIT I’ve already decided I want to do radio? What am I going to DO? So I stopped and thought about it. Fuck it, I’m going to do both.

opp2You have to seize all the opportunities that come your way, because some of them won’t come around twice. Yes, broadcast media is where I can see myself in the future, but why limit myself to entertainment? Why not get a good foundation in news writing, and give myself the option to work in radio news? The Limerick Leader is a placement that I just can’t pass up on, after hearing all the previous students who’ve worked there ranting and raving about it. But I’m not giving up on radio either. I’m hoping and praying that I can switch my placement to summer time (Yes, I want to give up even more of my time to work for free) so that I can leave college with the skills I need to get into broadcast journalism.

Of course I’m still worried about news writing, it’s me, and it’d be odd if I wasn’t worried. But it’s a challenge for me, and it’s something I’ve never really touched on bar a few assignments here and there. I’m excited to push myself, to write about new things and to learn the tricks of the trade. I know that I can be whoever I want to be, I can do whatever I want to with this career. I want to give myself the best opportunity to get a good job when I leave college, and I’m picking up as many skills as possible to ensure that happens.

My problem in life is that I want to have it all. But, why let that be a problem? Be the best, work the hardest, and get the best results. You can do it all if you really want to.

“Opportunities will come and go, but if you do nothing about them, so will you.”     — Richie Norton

 

When now is just a bad time

The rain is pelting down against your bedroom window and you’re lying in bed, watching the last of the romantic comedies you’re yet to see on Netflix. It’s -10 degrees in your badly insulated, slightly damp student house but you don’t care. Why? Because you’re cuddled up with your latest beau, the one you’re hoping is your knight in shining armour. Unrealistic? Probably, but a girl can dream.badtiming3

It’s been a while now since you started seeing each other, and you’re starting to wonder where you stand. Is he seeing other girls? Does he like me as much as I like him? Does he want me to be his girlfriend? Well, the best way to get answers to your questions is to start by asking them. But sometimes these answers can leave more questions to be answered.

Some awkward, beating around the bush type questions are asked. What you’re really trying to say is, “Are you looking for a relationship?” Cue plenty of long pauses, awkward silences and there’s definitely a disappointed look on someone’s face. Eventually there’s an explanation as to why you’re not getting the response you’d expected, “Now is just a bad time.” Great, thanks for that one. But is there ever a good time?

badtiming2I feel like any time I’ve been in a relationship, it’s ended because of bad timing. Any time I’d consider getting serious with someone it’s always the same, the whole “Now is just a bad time” excuse yet again. When I was 15, it was bad timing because I was too young for something serious. When I was 17, it was bad timing because I had more important things to concentrate on, like my leaving cert. When I was 18, I was going into my first year of college and everyone told me it was silly to be tied down. And now? I’ll hopefully be heading to Manchester on Erasmus in September. And after that, well I’m God only knows where in the country for my work placement. After college I’ll want to travel or do something a little exciting with my life, and who’d want to be tied down for that? Am I ever going to have “time” for a relationship? How do people make time for these things? Teach me your ways, please.

When is the right time for a relationship? Because I’m pretty sure when you’re 26 or 27 and you’ve done majority of those fun things you’d always wanted to do, it’s a little late to start searching for your soulmate. Our parents and grandparents met each other at our age, yet now all we want to do in our late teens and early twenties is be single. Life is changing and there’s more and more emphasis being put on being a tough, independent and strong-minded person; there’s this perception that a relationship will eliminate that from your life. We’re being encouraged that while you’re young, you’re better off being alone.badtiming

But what if we keep turning people down because we’re too busy to commit? Mr or Mrs Right could be standing there on your doorstep and you’re like sorry kid, I want to visit Japan and there’s no room for you to come with me. My fear right now is that I’ll end up 35 years old, still single, and thinking about the one that got away when I was 21. The life of an overthinker, eh?

Anyways, the moral of the story is that I’m going to stop using “Now is just a bad time” as an excuse to end, or even just fail to continue something. Because I’m a big paranoid overthinker and I don’t want to miss out on something just because I was “busy”. Yep, I’ve certainly changed my tune compared to this time last year. But I guess if you like somebody enough, then timing shouldn’t be an issue anyways. Lets just hope that the man of my dreams isn’t too busy for me, wherever the hell he is.