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mental health mondays :: #mentalillnessfeelslike

a few weeks ago, i posted a notice in honour of canadian mental health week. however, i failed to mention that our neighbours to the south dedicate an entire month to mental health awareness. of course, if you take into consideration the difference in population, canada is still dedicating more time per capita, but, you know... it's a whole month. and it's one of the long ones, too.

the theme for this year's campaign, as you might have gathered from the hash-taggery in the title of this post, is "what mental illness feels like". that can encompass a lot of things, because mental illness covers depression, psychosis, dissociative disorders, eating disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders, panic disorders... but you know all this already. the idea is to simply get people to talk about mental illness as much as possible, to give a sense of all of the different ways in which it can affect people's lives, the number of people who suffer from it, and also to let people know that others feel the same way that they do.

you can get information on mental health month here. i've already spoken quite a bit about my own experiences with mental health on this blog, so i figured i would share these adorable drawings from british artist gemma correll, created to mark the month.





i've felt all of these things and a lot of people i know have felt them too. 

other observations about how mental illness feels that i've heard from people include things like: 

  • being paralysed :: when panic attacks and anxiety are at their peak, you feel physically as if you can't move- like your brain isn't in control of your body. 
  • painful :: when you're stressed, your body releases inflammatory substances capable of causing real, physical damage to the body. you're not imagining that it hurts and you're not being overly sensitive.
  • being crazy :: one of the saddest things i've ever heard [and it's come from more than one person] is that many people who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder are perfectly aware that their rituals/ ticks/ beliefs are irrational, but that doesn't do anything to reduce their power. 
  • having no idea who to trust :: john nash once said that the voices in his head came to him in the exact same way as his ideas about mathematics, so he couldn't discount them. it's something i've heard from others as well- your own brain is lying to you, often using the same channels that it uses to allow you to do really important things. 
  • not knowing what anything feels like :: this is a little understood problem with dissociative disorders and one that's often used to portray them as unfeeling monsters. dissociative disorders can cause people to "split" from their emotions, so that they can be unaware of what they're feeling, or unable to feel the "appropriate" emotions in certain situations. 


and none of this gets into what mental illness feels like for those close to someone with a mental illness. 

whatever your experience, i encourage you to make your voice heard over the next two weeks. join a conversation, start a conversation. it won't bring about change on its own, but no change can happen without it. 

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