‘Mental illness doesn’t discriminate’ is a pretty well known phrase now. It means people of all ages, sizes, races etc can get a mental illness. And this is true, and a great statement to help reduce the stigma of mental illness and allow people to reach out for help, no matter who they are or what they are struggling with. But I think it’s also important to talk about the TYPE of person who gets mental illnesses.
I feel like there’s this stereotype- that to be depressed you must have had a bad childhood for some reason or another, to have an eating disorder you must have been bullied when you were younger and been told you were ‘fat’ or ‘ugly’ and these things will have messed with your self esteem. Yes, this is probably true with a lot of people. A lot of people’s mental illness may be brought to a head after a significant life event etc but it doesn’t have to be the case.
Me? I had an amazing childhood. I’m so fortunate to be able to say I’ve never been bullied, in fact I’ve never really had anyone be unkind to me at all. No one has ever told me that I’m fat or ugly, in all honestly when I was growing up people often complimented me on my looks. My family life has always been good, I have an amazing family - i’m super close to all my siblings and have a loving mum and dad. And yet, for the last couple of years I’ve been plagued by anorexia, depression and anxiety. People may not understand why and I don’t really understand myself either. But mental illness doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t just not go to people who are busy living their normal lives. There is a real lack of understanding that mental illness really can hit anyone and people often ask me why I feel so down and what’s happened to make me feel this way- and when I say nothing or I don’t know people just end up more confused. And I think that adds to the stigma in a way, as it makes people feel less worthy of help. It makes it harder to talk about as no one can understand why you feel that way, and it’s harder to get support when you don’t know what’s wrong in the first place. So I just wanted to say, mental illness really can happen to anyone, and EVERYONE is always valid and worthy of help. You are always ill enough and you don’t need to have a mental illness for a specific ‘reason’ as such to get help.
So if there is one thing I can remind you this mhaw it’s that:
You are you and you are enough.