‘One in four people have a mental illness – let’s get organised‘ – Ruby Wax, Thursday 6 June 2013
Yesterday, I came upon this article on Twitter, written by the wonderful Ruby Wax for the Guardian in their ‘Comment is Free’ section:
”If you look into the eyes of someone with depression there’s no mistaking they have it; it’s the expression of a dead shark. I started to feel better when I found my tribe, with their dead shark eyes matching mine. The shame lessens when you realise you’re not making it up, rather than being told to “perk up” by friends and family. Fellow sufferers will never get bored with conversations about drugs, voices and heartache. They will relate and resonate with you, holding your hand through the agony.
It’s my mission that everyone who suffers any type of mental anguish, from high stress or burnout to actual depression, could have a place to meet – to talk, compare symptoms, advise and empathise; a walk-in centre similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. I always ask, slightly jokingly, how did they get so organised and create so many on every corner, more than Starbucks, when most of these people are drunks? Why can’t the one in four pull that off?
It would be such a leap for humanity to start such walk-in centres for the one in four throughout the UK. People who own hair salons, cafes, whatever, could open their doors once a month to let in the bemused and bewildered for an evening, with professionals to moderate the meetings. When I did my show in London, Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of Sane, brought in her volunteers once a week so that people could get the advice they so badly needed. Most of us have no idea how to deal with mental problems and don’t know where to go to ask about it.“
When I read this, I instantly agreed with it. When I thought about my past experiences with depression, I realised that if I had just had someone to talk to, as opposed to family and friends telling me ‘everyone gets sad sometimes’ and ‘just cheer up’, then I may have felt more understood and not so like I was making everything up inside my own head – which was already a concern.
So, I can fully support the idea that those suffering with mental health should meet up and have a space in which to share their experiences because, let’s face it, funded support has been so depleted these days, with various government cuts. It is important that those with mental health issues are understood and have a chance to converse with those who understand what they are going through.
Another celebrity who has outed himself and is president of the charity named Mind, is the very talented Stephen Fry. In 2012, he attempted to take his own life with a mix of vodka and pills, admitting he was a ‘victim of his own moods’, he was saved by a TV Producer. He made his story public because he felt it was his job as a role model and president to talk about mental health and boost awareness of what living with manic depression is like.
Mind are running a campaign ‘It’s time to change‘, that seeks to end the stigma and discrimination facing people with mental health issues. They are creating the right kinds of conversations, so if you are suffering or want to help someone that is – then get involved.
Also, if you haven’t caught ‘Don’t Call Me Crazy‘ on BBC Three at 9pm, UK time then I’d recommend it.
Have you ever suffered from a mental health issue? Did you feel supported?