“It’s All In Your Head”

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.

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3 thoughts on ““It’s All In Your Head”

  1. Hi. I’ve been reading you for a short while. I want to let you know that I feel every word you type here. Unsure where in the world you are now – haven’t read any further than a few entries at this point, however wanted you to know that I’ve been there too. I live in New Zealand – it’s not that different here as to what you’ve experienced.

    I am largely ignored by CMHT’s. I “present” too well, too “functional” too “together”. The dumb wads don’t seem to get it that this is a coping mechanism for me. A psychiatric Nurse actually told me that they ie psychiatrists, don’t know what to do with me. She also said that I’m “unusual” in the way that I experience mental unwellness. They will support me in terms of writing scripts for medicines that I’m gradually coming off of however make no time available to see me.

    If I were to have an unclean house, a smelly body, be in debt with electricity or phone companies threatening to cut their service to me etc they would make the time to see me. I would then, I guess, be accepted as “unwell”.

    I have had a psychiatrist call my bluff regarding me being suicidal one time. He literally told me to go ahead and do it. I actually wrote a letter of complaint that of course fell upon deaf ears. Very disturbing. And now my 24 year old child is caught up in the mental health web. I hope that I can make a productive imprint upon him – way more than what CMHT’s can.

    Be Well.

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  2. Yet another post that may have been written about me.

    I hate that people think I am making a choice…seriously…who would ‘choose’ to live this way. I hate that people close to me think I’d do better without so much medication…really? Because right now I’m functioning (definition questionable!) and sleeping well. I can sit still for more than 5 minutes. I’ll stop taking my meds if you want…? My ex-line manager told me that I needed ‘to get out more’ and an HR officer once asked me if ‘the sunshine cheered me up’, tilting her head in the process (yes, she really did tilt her head).

    I think you’re doing a great job of addressing all the ‘hot potatoes’ at the moment. You’re an asset to the MH community – always put yourself and your own needs first but keep using that voice.

    xxx

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