THE BLOG

What Mental Illness Looks Like

16/06/2016 10:47 | Updated 16 June 2016

I wrote an article for an Irish national daily a few weeks back, in which I stated the following:

'My concern is that the current media representation of these (mental health) issues is in danger of doing the subject more harm than good by having a really restricted focus in terms of how mental health problems manifest, who they affect, and how they are managed.

I have borderline personality disorder which occasionally joins forces with severe depression, and as a service user/patient/client (take your pick, we're still a little fuzzy on terminology) it frustrates me when I see the same stories being told over and over again, the same limited number of issues being discussed, the same 'solutions' being presented.

One could be forgiven for believing that the only issues that affect people are depression and anxiety, that it's only our younger population who are impacted, or that exercise will fix everything. While these are all valid points, they are merely the tip of the iceberg.........

We're making huge inroads in talking about (mental health issues), but we're still dancing around the edges. I don't want to hear anyone else 'opening up' about their successful 'battle' with depression. I don't want to hear soundbites about how mindfulness, a good diet and regular exercise will help keep me well. I want to hear reality. I want to hear open, honest, and above all real conversation about this. About depression. About bipolar. About borderline. About schizophrenia. About all the other countless illnesses that affect us.

About people.'

Immediately after the article was published I was contacted to do both TV and radio interviews to discuss it further, which I had to decline. I knew that while I would get great energy from them, and it would possibly help take the national conversation about mental health a little further, it would also knock the stuffing out of me and the fallout wouldn't be worth the whatever slim gain may have been made.

I realise there's a massive irony in this - I gave out that media representations of mental health issues are very one sided, yet when given the opportunity to do something about it, I had to say no or my mental health would suffer. So, I decided that vlogging would be the next best thing. I've been writing about trying to manage bpd and depression for years, and now I want to show you what it can look like. None of these vlogs are scripted, rehearsed or edited in any way. They're mostly recorded in my car because it feels like a really safe place to do them, if a little dull (!!) visually and are short - generally between one and three minutes. I tend to think a lot when I'm driving, and it helps to record my thoughts this way on a day that I may not get time to write. What you see is how I am - I don't usually wear make up, and I often look extremely tired and/or spotty. This is my reality. I've never sugar coated my writing so I'm not going to sugar coat these.

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