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There’s a label in my medical notes that says I have depression. I’ve cried in more public places than I can count: the reading room of the library, on buses, in taxis, walking down the street, in the supermarket, on a plane, during a walk, in the botanic gardens. You name it, I’ve probably cried there. We’ve come a long way in regards to discussing mental health, but it’s still a relatively taboo issue. Mental illness affects a large number of us—be it ourselves or our loved ones that struggle with it. Despite this, a lot of people tend to get uncomfortable when you discuss the realities of various mental illnesses. Experiencing a mental illness is tough and scary for a number of reasons, so it’s important that we open up a healthy, informative, and supportive dialogue about it. This makes us feel less alone in our struggles, and can help us be more understanding and compassionate. Mental illness is very isolating; I know from my own experience that you can feel completely alone and terrified about what you’re experiencing. On top of all that, there’s a lot of romanticisation of mental illness that occurs. Depression can often be portrayed as something that ~tortured creative souls~ go through, or whatever other bullshit people come up with.
But fuck that, my mental illness isn’t pretty. No-one’s is. A few years ago I suffered bad anxiety, that was anything but pretty. We’re talking adrenaline induced Irritable Bowel Syndrome for about three years straight. Gross. Less gross, but still uncool, was my need to be early wherever I went—I’m talking half an hour to an hour early for things. But hey, that’s weird and not normal, so we can’t talk about it. Mental illness is a reality of life for so many of us, so let’s stop it from being a taboo issue. When I first started my meds, my Mum called me up worried because I’d posted something on Facebook about it. She wasn’t that comfortable about me doing so, but after having a chat about it she agreed that more open dialogue can be beneficial. Plus, it always helps to have friends who can support you and know what you’re going through. We are getting a bit better though. We have media such as television show Please Like Me, which handles mentally ill characters in a sensitive and informative way. It doesn’t romanticise mental illness, nor does it demonise it. It can be a tricky balance to portray (perhaps because writers often don’t seem to have encountered a visibly mentally ill person in their life?), but there are people who are opening up this dialogue.