Mental Health

Ignorance is Bliss



This image is my response to the all the ‘choose joy’ and ‘happiness is a choice’ memes and my own commentary on mental illness. It would be easy to assume this is about poverty, which is important too. I guess it could be about whatever you want. But I think even in the most extreme poverty there are people with good mental health who can still choose joy despite all stacked up against them. Just like someone with clinical depression could have all the money in the world and still think about suicide. Basically, I want to say, being able to choose joy is a luxury. There’s nothing wrong with it. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of. But if you don’t understand that concept it’s because people are still too afraid to talk openly about mental illness.

I do believe in positive thinking, I do believe it has power. But those memes represent to me how far behind we are in an open conversation about mental illness. Positive thinking really works, but the problem is that sometimes people who are drowning in a variety of chemical imbalances can’t think clearly enough to even begin to think or believe in happiness. This is where medication and therapy come in. But there is still so much of a stigma against taking medicine for a sick brain that people fight it, and try to force themselves to will the illness away. When are we going to see memes about getting help, accepting that mental illness is no different from having diabetes, or the flu. Some are temporary, others are life long. Why do people have such a hard time believing that the body can be sick but the brain can’t? Why is it acceptable to talk about having a physical illness but shameful to admit you have a mental illness? These are things we need to stop being afraid of. Why do I only hear media coverage about mental illness after a mass shooting or a tragedy? 1 in 5 people suffer from a mental illness in America alone, and those are the people admitting and seeking help.

Dealing with my own illness has been life long and I fought so hard against it until I came to a point where if I didn’t accept it and seek help I was going to lose the people most important to me. It’s a whirlwind. And now that I’ve found help and am managing my illness I can finally see how much chaos and heartbreak I’ve caused and endured in my life because I wasn’t thinking clearly. And how much easier life can be when you’re not fighting against yourself. I look back on the unmedicated me and it scares me to think I might ever go back. I’ve never felt so stable and even tempered in my life, I didn’t know what I was missing until I found it.

This isn’t all about me absolutely advocating medication for everyone. I get that there are people who can function and lead healthy lives while dealing with mental illness. But I know too many people who are barely able to cope that are scared to death of taking medication. Those are the people I think about when I see those happy thoughts memes, and I think about my old self and how long it took me to find peace. And I get angry at the ignorant bliss we as a people seem to have about mental illness until it affects us directly. I don’t know how to change it, or what to do other then talk about it.



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