The great taboo

I’ve always found our society very strange: the way we dance around topics, the way we condone violence but abhor sexuality, the way our “morals” allow us to unapologetically condemn others based on skin colour and sexual orientation.

The way we put a taboo over something that affects 20% of Canadians directly, and all Canadians indirectly.

Mental illness is a huge topic. It makes a lot of people uncomfortable, because it’s widely misunderstood. As a society, we don’t talk about mental illness well at all–we call people “crazy” and blame violence on the mentally ill, even though mentally ill people are more likely to be victims than they are to perpetuate violence. There is a seemingly unending list of non-facts and unnecessary fear-mongering. The mentally ill are thrown under the bus time and time again, used as scapegoats to avoid discussing the deeper issues.

Some people are willing to speak up, thankfully. That alone can help bring about change.

My name is Katie. I have generalized anxiety disorder (also known as GAD) and social anxiety disorder. I also suffer from depression, which, I have been told is directly due to my GAD. My mental illness does not define me, and does not make me a dangerous person. It explains some of my actions and, thankfully, gives me something to fall back on when I don’t understand why my brain is reacting a certain way to a situation. I try not to use it as an excuse, but it’s hard sometimes.

Mental Illness Awareness Week is drawing to a close. I urge you, this week and all weeks, to consider that mental illness is a health issue like any other. Try showing some compassion, even if you don’t understand. Let’s work together to end the stigma that looms over mental health and get people the help they need.

Mental health is such an incredibly broad topic that I don’t feel I can properly give it the time deserves in a cursory blog post. I felt that, on this week, it would be important to say something, no matter how small.

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1 Comment

  1. I have GAD as well, but with agoraphobia (being the other “go to” add on to GAD)… Makes it nearly impossible to go out in public and not have panic attacks or run off screaming. My mental illness basically means I get overwhelmed very easily and I get worn out (emotionally and physically) fast as well. I can get snippy when I have a moment of weakness, but I’m pretty good at voicing my hesitance or need for space before it gets to that point.

    I wish people had a better understanding of how wide this umbrella of mental illness is and how to approach people, like us, who have very workable (albeit very difficult and annoying) disorders to find out basic stuff. How do I know you’re getting overwhelmed? How can I help if it happens? Do you have triggers I can avoid? It’d be nice if more people understood that.

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