I am certain that I am not alone in suffering from mental illness and dealing with comments from others such as, “It’s all in your head” and “Just get a grip” and so on. To a certain extent it is ‘all in my head’ but that doesn’t make it any less real and most importantly it is an illness that I can’t help and did not choose to come into my life.
So what is ‘all in my head’? Chemical imbalances, physiological and scientific medical conditions that manifest themselves into psychiatric diagnoses. These illnesses are with me constantly, I can change my thinking, think positively and that will give me hope but it will not dissolve my illnesses and leave me a free man (or woman). Telling me that it is all in my head is no more helpful than telling someone with pneumonia that it is all in their chest. I am aware that I have mental health problems, that my brain is poorly and that my brain is located in my head, I don’t need it pointing out.
Unfortunately I still come across many people who see mental illness as a choice, as weakness or even laziness. I still converse with people who think that depression is just feeling a bit sad and wallowing in it. It isn’t like that at all. It isn’t just the occasional negative thought or scary thought. Mental illness is with me constantly, I might be fighting it and appearing bright and doing well but the thoughts are still there, the illness is still there. A good day doesn’t mean an illness free day, it means a day where I am able to feel a positive emotion or do something good. Yesterday was a good day, I still weighed myself, I still engaged in anorexia behaviours, I still battled depression and tried to push off bad thoughts, I still had to line things up and check them but I felt love in my heart for my family and I smiled and laughed.
A lot of the people who will say things like, “it’s all in your head” will often be against medication for psychiatric conditions. Frowning upon anti depressants and installing the fear into people that they will get ‘hooked’ and be on them for life. Would you be against me taking salbutamol for my asthma? Or my Grandfather taking insulin for his diabetes? Would you be against someone having chemotherapy for cancer? Psychiatric illnesses are serious, they have the potential to be fatal. Why would you discourage someone to take life threatening medication? I know that some people get well with talking therapy alone but I know that without my medication I would still be in hospital. I am not ashamed to say that I take antidepressants, antipsychotics and sleeping tablets because right now I can function at a basic level. Without them I was detained under the Mental Health Act, unaware of what was going on around me, I was seeing things, hearing things. I was hurting myself constantly because I couldn’t bear to be alive. I rarely got out of bed and was watched 24/7 and pinned down and injected if need be.
My medication helps because I suffer from an illness, not bad choices like many assume. My severe and enduring psychiatric conditions become more manageable when I have these life saving tablets and who knows, maybe I will be on them for the rest of my life but at least I will be alive and not detained under the Mental Health Act.
So yes, to a certain extent it is all in my head but someone saying that isn’t going to make me go “Oh yeah so it is, no worries I’m better now” it’s just going to make me feel guilty and shameful. But it’s important to know what’s in my head is a chemical imbalance, a medical condition that medication can help correct.