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11 March 2012 @ 11:06 am
I've read the occasional thing lately to do with mental health awareness and one thing is stuck in my mind - the way we're encouraged to think of mental health issues as comparable to physical health issues. Eg "you wouldn't tell a person with asthma to 'just think positively' so why would you to a depressed person?" and that kinda thing.

What really has stuck in my mind is that the mental health system treats mental health as though it's significantly different to physical health. Like, say, if i went to a specialist because of diabetes, they wouldn't intentionally withhold treatment in case i became "overly reliant" on it. Or if i was given a lotion for eczema and it didn't make the eczema go away, i wouldn't be accused of not using the lotion, or for not wanting the lotion to work, or not trying hard enough to avoid the eczema in the first place (without being told how this is possible). Or if i went into A&E having a heart attack, the doctor wouldn't make you wait 5 hours for a specialist and then tell you that heart attacks are perfectly normal when you're feeling a bit stressed. Or if i had a condition that claims the lives of a significant percentage of its sufferers and then was told that the potentially life-saving treatment isn't available in the county.
(Unfortunately these examples are all parallels things i have experienced - and looking at it this way around it is absurd).

Interestingly, last time i had contact with the mental health services, the nurse did compare mental health problems to a physical one, with "your mental health problems are like diabetes, you just have to learn to live with it. A person with diabetes doesn't stay seeing a diabetes specialist forever" (what is it with psychs assumption that i want to be under MH services forever anyway?! Because of course i don't because it's hideous and soul-destroying. I just want to have their help to get better and then i'll go off and live my life. Maybe this assumption is because i seem to have "BORDERLINE" stamped on my forehead...). Now, maybe i'm not in a place to judge considering i don't have diabetes, but it seems to me that mental health problems are significantly more complicated to cope with than diabetes, and with diabetes they do actually give some advice as to how to cope, whereas with mental health they, well, don't.

I still can't get the face of my jobcentre advisor out my head when i explained to her what the mental health system is like and that they won't have me. When i explained what qualifies you for help from the mental health services (aka, in my case that is "a crisis"), when i explained that the therapy that they think would help me (DBT) isn't available in the county, and how she was going "would it help if i phoned them?".

Maybe i could come to the conlusion that the mental health system is actually more mental than me??
philippa_futurephilippa_future on March 12th, 2012 01:00 am (UTC)
oh my goodness - the way with which you just described the mental health system really struck a chord with me. When you put it in that way its seems totally absurd that when I went to see my doctor about my depression/tried to talk to my mother about it they both say that "its natural", you've had a big life change, it's just homesickness/the stress of university. And I have my own worries about becoming "overly reliant" on counselling or anti-depressants. I think everyone should read that paragraph you just wrote to help try and get rid of the stigma surrounding mental health.
Daniela Violinbreakherbelljar on March 12th, 2012 03:39 am (UTC)
"your mental health problems are like diabetes, you just have to learn to live with it.", a psychiatrist in my past said those exact words, and now I haven't had a psychiatrist in 5 years and I have to go see one next week, I'm not looking forward to it -- AT ALL! Totally with you on this.
(Deleted comment)
Josieking_josie on March 12th, 2012 08:18 pm (UTC)
Oh i was allowed to see a psychiatrist to have huge doses of anti-depressants and anti-psychotics.... but therapy, a community psych nurse, crisis team intervention, support workers.... it took 6 trips into hospital with overdoses and self-harm before they gave in (and by then my liver was practically pickled... it did make me wonder if they were hoping i'd die just to save them money... but that may have been depression talking...)!