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THREAD NOW CLOSED How do you feel about talking about mental health?

(103 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 24-Aug-11 09:34:36

Time to Change is "England's biggest ever attempt to end stigma and discrimination towards people with mental health problems". Mumsnet has been asked by Time to Change to find out how you feel about starting a conversation on mental health. The thread is open to everyone, regardless of their experiences with mental health.

Time to Change has released results to a new survey of adults which found that people often talk to their GP (26%) or partner (37%) first before going directly to a close family member, such as a parent or sibling.

They'd like to know what you think and about any experiences you may be able to share. Talking about mental health would include concerns you have about yourself and also about concerns you may have about family and friends.

We have some questions to get you thinking but they would welcome all comments and thoughts.

~ Why do you think it's still so hard for some people to talk openly to families about mental health? Should it be talked about more openly when there is an issue?

~ In your opinion are families the biggest stigmatisers?

~ Who would you speak to first if you were worried about your own mental health?

~ Would you find this difficult? Why?

~ Who would you speak to if you were concerned about the mental health of someone in your family or a friend? Would you find this difficult? Why?

And if you can please do tell us your own experiences of this if you have any.

Thanks
MNHQ
For more information you can also visit their facebook page.

hairybob Wed 24-Aug-11 17:03:19

trying to recruit volunteers to work with people with long-term mental illnesses is nigh-on impossible. It's not pretty or trendy or glamourous or cosy sad

Some people are even uneasy with the fact that i work in mental health (perhaps it's catching. Or perhaps..y'know..maybe I'm a, y'know..bit, well, er, bonkers to want to work with ''people like them'' )
wink
To me, it's the same as looking after your physical health. If you have a headache, you take paracetamol. or you talk to your gp. If you don't want to go out, you tell your friends you have a headache. they understand. they ask if you need anything. You shouldn't have to feel embarrassed or awkward or ashamed ffs.
Why people react differently to mental health is beyond me, but it is very distressing for all concerned.
When people are isolated socially, or stigmatised or prejudiced against, it's obviously going to make them feel worse.

On the other hand, when i first started working in the job I currently do, several friends came forward and 'admitted' to me they had been depressed, or on anti-depressants or had had post-natal depression or a family member had bi-polar etc. And I felt so sad they had not been able to share this with me - or our other friends - before.

Even within mental health circles, in my experience there seems to be some attitude that some illnesses seem more 'worthy' of support than others. sad

TheOriginalFAB Wed 24-Aug-11 18:20:53

I have found that even people with family members who have had depression, they still don't get it. They ask "what does she have to be depressed about?" I tried to email a tv programme that was on the other month as I was so annoyed when a panelist talked about how she decided not to take tablets and "would just get herself through" it. I think that in that case she probably didn't have full on clinical depression as I am sure of all of would just pull ourselves through it if we could.

pseudonomic Wed 24-Aug-11 19:46:57

About six weeks ago my husband had what I would call a breakdown. He became more and more depressed then one day decided he didn't want to live with us anymore. He later told me he was thinking about killing himself. For him it was a reactive depression over things he'd just swallowed down and not dealt with earlier on.

He would not seek professional help for fear of his job (in his profession the ability to make rational judgements is the only thing that matters and anything that is seen to compromise that invokes the axe) sad

It's been a hard slog, with counsellors but things are getting much better. We've both been through a lot. He feels ashamed that he got into that state but I think actually most people have bad times and just that because he'd had to hide everything he got worse and worse. And I think it's awful that people are so judgemental.

Having said I knew nothing about mental illness other than manic depression. So it was very hard for me to know what to expect.

I think wider families, particularly parents can easily stigmatise those suffering from mental illness. It's easy to say 'oh he's just going through a hard time' than actually acknowledge that someone might need more than just a stiff drink and a rest.

If I was having mental health problems myself, I don't know where I'd go. I know it wouldn't be my GP, they've been extraordinarily unhelpful when I have gone with physical problems, saying things like 'well you are a mum, you have to expect to be tired and have heavy periods' hmm Not inspiring.

I've heard anecdotally that in my area, you will not get access to a counsellor without a 12 week wait and you will only be referred if you are suicidal. Whereas I understood there was a six weekly session allotment provided everywhere in England.

I would like more information to be provided within schools on mental illness as well as physical illness. Perhaps to 15 year olds. After all, if 25% of them are going to become mentally ill at some point, it makes sense to familiarise them because if not them, then their friends, family, lovers etc..

debka Wed 24-Aug-11 19:59:45

My mum has secondary breast cancer which is terminal. She finds talking about the depression that accompanies it much much harder than talking about the disease itself. Mostly because people don't know how to deal with the information, but also because she feels embarrassed and ashamed.

violetwellies Wed 24-Aug-11 21:19:06

I went to my GP with a long list of physical symptoms & she told me that Id had 'what used to be called a breakdown', I then told my partner who as usual was good as gold.
My family (parents deceased) are not stigmatising. I don't think I told many of them as I wasn't really up to talking to folk, and they aren't really part of my life. Work were mostly fine apart from the dept manager, who if anything made things worse.
Id talk to the individual concerned if a friend or relation appeared to be struggling with mental health issues.

NickRobinsonsloveslave Wed 24-Aug-11 22:13:08

It's interesting that the majority of posters claim they would/ did confide in their DH first.

I have not even told mine I am on ADs....he thinks they are iron tablets!

I would never tell him as he just would not understand and would automatically say something crass like "pull yourself together".

The only person who knows about my depression is my GP. With family and friends I just put on my 'happy mask'. It's easier than letting them think I am weak and need drugs to keep on living.

Granny23 Wed 24-Aug-11 22:51:57

I mainly spoke to my sister and my best friend (whose daughter suffered chronic depression). They were supportive and understanding and both pointed me towards my GP, even offering to come with me. Now I would do the same for any family member or friend.

My DH did not 'get it' at all and insisted that I kept it all hidden from my DDs, who were at that time living/working away from home. I did eventually put them in the picture and they have been my main source of support since then.

The trigger that pushed me over the edge into the black pit was the death of my father - I no longer needed to stay strong for him - and being made redundant shortly after - I no longer needed to drag myself to work each day. Within a week or so I was trying to hide in cupboards, struggled to answer the phone, drive or leave the house alone.

Unfortunately, I had to find alternative employment asap, and for that reason could not broadcast my illness to the wider community. Employers might be reasonably supportive to an existing employee but are hardly likely to employ someone new who admits to mental illness on their CV.

hellsbells4 Wed 24-Aug-11 23:43:36

My mum and all her sisters are prone to depression/anxiety/OCD and other MH issues - as are their children, but for decades it was a taboo subject, and not something anyone in the family ever mentioned. My mum always felt very ashamed of her 'difficulties'.

I think I probably spoke to my gp first, then mum, (which is when I realised how prevalent it is in mum's family) then dh, and I think my dcs have both grown up knowing I take anti-dpressants. I don't see it as a big deal - so I don't think they do either.

However telling my FIL or MIL was just unthinkable (and I've known them for 30 years!) - until MIL developed depresssion herself a few years ago. She thought she was the first (and only) person in the world suffering.

As I get older (mid fifties) I find I can talk more and more openly about it, so there probably isn't anyone I know who doesn't know about my depression. I think most of my employees know too.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Thu 25-Aug-11 00:30:27

I think families have complex reactions to mental health problems are a variety of reasons
- they are often part of the problem, OR worried that they will be blamed
- if parents/ older generations they would be more likely to have the stigma of mental health foremost in their minds (over generalisation i know)
- families have a complex social structure which can be disturbed/ fractured by someone admitting to mh issues - depends on the family and the individuals role within it whether the family will be a support or a nightmare

for me, my family was definitely the cause, and as I have the role of the person that helps/ supports/ cushions others, there would be no room for me to be ill - mentally or physically actually.

To answer the questions:

I would speak to a friend or partner first, but would be part of an ongoing conversation as friends know my state of mind anyway

if a close friend seems depressed or mood swings or anxiety, panic attacks, ocd etc, i would definitely bring it up, but if it was something which still has alot of stigma around it, i'd be more indirect/ careful (for me that would be delusions, multiple personalities.. they still feel v stigmatised and would need care in talking about).

if it was family i wouldn't, as my parents think mh issues are a sign of weakness and talk about people they know of with them with puriant interest and disgust. they both definately have mh issues themselves btw, which accounts for the horror of it i suppose.

Ryma Thu 25-Aug-11 02:08:35

I had depression 4 years ago, it was very hard, until I went to see my doctor, who gave me antidepressants. But it was hard to talk to people, it was very hard, because nobody would understand me.

LawrieMarlow Thu 25-Aug-11 08:00:09

I have suffered from depression (which I have discovered happens when I haven't managed my anxiety effectively) for nearly 20 years. Have up and down periods and haven't needed ADs for nearly 2 years which is good.

I have never properly told my mum and dad - I think because I am pretty sure my mum has suffered from bouts of (I think undiagnosed) depression I don't want to sound like I am trying to steal her thunder or something equally daft. And because I am all right at the moment then there seems little point in talking about it.

Very few people know about it - when I was off work people knew but that was a while ago. H (DH then) knew about it. Right now I have been having some ups and downs due to H leaving and if I needed more support would see my GP (have made pre-emptive visits) but don't know what I would actually do if I felt incapable of caring for the children properly.

Ilythia Thu 25-Aug-11 08:51:32

I have found it interesting how many people have been diagnosed with depression but will only admit it when they realise I have too.

I want to answer the questions but will find it easier to answer them using my own experiences, so...

I was suffering from depression a number of years ago, not severely, I was able to cope day to day, but in hindsight I shoudl have seen someone earlier, it was not medicated until I witnessed a violent assault and then I was prescribed anti depressants after breaking down in the doctors. My family have all insisted on explaining to people that it is purely because of the attack that I saw, they do not believe that i was depressed before.
My friends and I had no experience of depression so while they were supportive, it was more of the 'lets go out to cheer you up' type than anything helpful. There was nothing at that time to tell people how to help others (pre internet)

My mother has had a rough couple fo years (divorce, office bullying, her mother dying) and I literally begged her to go and speak to a doctor as she started having panic attacks. My sisters were furious with me and insistant that she was not depressed and how dare I put such dangerous thoughts in her head.
They talked her out of going to the doctors.
'Luckily' she ended up going for another reason and broke down in the surgery and told the doctor everything, the doctor told her she was stressed and offered ad's but my mum changed her job/situation instead and is doing a bit better now.
The stigma of depression in my family is very bad, I am looked on (and told) that I was weak, and overreacting when I say I couldn't leave my flat for weeks. One of my sisters insists that depression isn't even real, which means that we do not talk about it.

As a result the only person I ever talk to about my mental health is my husband, he was my boyfriend when I was depressed before and can spot when I am going througha low patch before I do. He is the only person who has actually seen me having a panic attack and was one of the few people I allowedinto my flat so he is fully aware of what I was going through.

The stigma is bad though, even down to midwives asking if you have been depressed, you wonder whetehr to downplay it so they don't take the baby away or inform SS, and when going for a new job it has to be mentioned. I had to discuss it with a nurse recently before she woudl approve my new post. All of these things make me feel it is something 'strange' and 'not normal' and again less likely to discuss it with people.

F1lthym1ndedvixen Thu 25-Aug-11 09:59:23

I'm fairly willing to bet there are scores of posters who have not even looked at this thread because of the words 'mental health'.

I hate that there is such a stigma.

Debka - my MIL was the same with her breast cancer sad Even when i found her some specialist free counselling, she wouldn't, because she said her husband would never forgive her for ''giving in'' to it.

Several members of my family have history of depression. My sister in particular is very messed up because of things from the past. We are quite open as a family to talking about stuff. Though, as i am seen as 'the strong one' I actually don't talk to them when I am struggling (I don't think they even know that I struggle. I have never had or sought a diagnosis of depression, as I am able to self-manage my symptoms.
Everyone's ability to deal with stress is massively different, in the same way that different people have different pain thresholds. It's really important to recognise the feelings you have and be self aware, so you can do whatever helps you through the rough times. For some people this means ADs, for others talkign therapies, or looking after yourself in some other way.
It is very sad to see how many people are ashamed or feel it is a weakness or their 'fault'.

My DH had aperiod of depression which have was difficult to deal with as a family because of his unwillingness to talk about his feelings - with me, let alone a professional. He eventually agreed to some counselling but he didn't tell anyone else he was going or talk about it with friends.

And as for people with a long-term mental health illness like bi-polar or schizophrenia, or a Personality Disorder, i can't imagine how hard it must be thinking people are judging you or treating you differently, Surely life is hard enough already? I know it is fear. And perhaps people don't know what to say or are scared of saying the wrong thing?

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder last year after having a major depressive episode which included thoughts of suicide. It was a relief to at last understand why I had behaved the way I have for most of my life. I am now on medication and life is stable and good at last.

When I became depressed I couldn’t tell anyone and when it became so bad that I couldn’t leave the house I initially told my Team (I manage a team of 17 people) that I was off work with gastric problems. The first person I told was DH who was wonderful and got me to see my GP. My GP was also wonderful and has been an important part of my recovery.

I thought a lot about who to tell. I had to tell my DD. She was great. She is 18 and her favorite teacher also is Bipolar so she could see that someone with this condition can have a relatively normal life if effectively medicated. She also had someone to talk to and I know that she had many conversations with him which helped. She also told her friends and one of them who is studying psychology likes to have conversations with me about it! I also told my parents. They have been supportive although my Dad doesn’t like to talk about it but he’s bit like that anyway. My Mum has said that it explains much of my behavior when I was younger and is always telling me about which celebrity has it or if she has read or watched something about it.

I told my boss who has been great and very supportive. I also told my Team as I felt it was important that they had an explanation for how I behaved and that I may sometime be unwell. They have also been great and very supportive as have my close friends a number of whom work in mental heath related areas. I have been really lucky with the people around me as I have not any negative reactions in those I am close to.

That’s not to say that I have no negative reactions. I did tell someone at work who has a responsibility for staff wellbeing about my condition and since then whenever I see him he tries not to catch my eye and give me really odd looks!

My concern is that bipolar has almost a glamorous image due to the high number if celebrities which claim to have it. It’s almost the acceptable mental health condition to have. I often wonder if the people I know would have been as supportive if I had been schizophrenic or have a personality disorder. This is not to diminish the awful effect that bipolar has on your life but just how I feel.

Maryz Thu 25-Aug-11 12:33:28

I think it is very difficult to talk about mh issues, and even more difficult to get help. I have suffered from depression in the past, and been afraid to ask for help for fear it would affect other aspects of my life (we were hoping to adopt, I had a not very understanding boss, etc).

Now my son suffers from depression, has a diagnosis of Asperger's, is possibly bi-polar, and self-medicates with cannabis. But no-one understands the underlying issues, they just see the drug addict sad.

We took him to the gp when he was younger, but they refused to give him anti-depressants because he was too young. Now they refuse to treat him because he is an addict. He can't get onto a treatment program for his addiction until he is clean hmm, he can't get clean because when he stops using the anxiety/depression/psychosis returns in full force.

And the paranoia makes him reluctant to go to talk to someone, because he thinks we all want to lock him up because he is weird.

He is 17, and I suspect is facing a lifetime of this.

The rest of the family suffers too. Quite apart from stress and violence at hom, and the drug issues, many people I have known for a long time refuse to talk to me because my son is an addict (and I am by definition a bad parent). Parents and teachers expect my younger children to go the same way, and both dd and ds2 put up with a lot of negative comment (both are fiercely defensive of ds1 and won't allow criticism of him - they recognise that he is sad, not bad).

My family know and are supportive (but still don't realise why he doesn't just accept help), dh's family would not understand at all.

I sometimes wish he had a more recognisable "disease", a physical illness where I could take him to a doctor who would treat him. And even if that treatment didn't work, at least he would know that we were trying to help, not trying to ruin his life (which he has pretty much ruined for himself, as a result of his issues).

He has friends who have committed suicide, I think he often thinks that they have had the right idea sad.

cheesesarnie Thu 25-Aug-11 12:44:59

i wish people would talk more about mental health.my dad tried to commit suicide about a year ago.when he was in the unit he wanted everyone to know where he was and why.he didnt want to feel ashamed and nor did we.
~ Why do you think it's still so hard for some people to talk openly to families about mental health? Should it be talked about more openly when there is an issue?

~ In your opinion are families the biggest stigmatisers?
no,its the naive people who stigmatise it.having it in the family means your more likely to know more.

~ Who would you speak to first if you were worried about your own mental health?
the gp and friends/family.

~ Would you find this difficult? Why?
yes probably.

~ Who would you speak to if you were concerned about the mental health of someone in your family or a friend? Would you find this difficult? Why?
same as above.no im not sure id find it hard,im too terrified of it getting so bad again that i could one day lose him.

nickschick Thu 25-Aug-11 14:10:46

~ Why do you think it's still so hard for some people to talk openly to families about mental health? Should it be talked about more openly when there is an issue?

**I am of the believe that 'team work' can help mental health when its not just you looking after you and you have others to care about you -it makes it easier - this is why I believe groups like the AA and indeed weightwatchers are so succesful.

~ In your opinion are families the biggest stigmatisers?

** It depends on the way they address it - people with mental health arent fragile or ill they need support to live with their issues- sometimes its seen as a weakness and sometimes its ignored - families do play a huge part in the succesful living with mental health problems.

~ Who would you speak to first if you were worried about your own mental health?

**honestly??? here on mumsnet.

~ Would you find this difficult? Why?

**no mumsnet is packed with people who are 'friends' some are straightalkers some dress things up niceley some may accuse you of being a troll but somewhere someone will be there for you.

~ Who would you speak to if you were concerned about the mental health of someone in your family or a friend? Would you find this difficult? Why?

**Id speak to someone who knew that person as well as I did and then hopefully we could work towards a solution be that more support or seeking medical help.
I wouldnt find this difficult practically as I see mental health as an illness like measles or chickenpox,I would find it difficult to see a family member or friend become trapped in mental health issues like alzheimers.

And if you can please do tell us your own experiences of this if you have any.

I have ptsd because of my traumatic childhood,its not something I want to have I cant change my childhood I simply have to live with those consequences- recently I became v aware that the coping mechanisms I have to deal with this that arent 'normal' and have now been told I have OCD ....i just live with it.

PerryCombover Thu 25-Aug-11 15:05:34

~ Why do you think it's still so hard for some people to talk openly to families about mental health? Should it be talked about more openly when there is an issue?

There is such a lack of understanding about mental health issues. From my own experience people don't want to make anything worse and are often frightened into inactivity. We aren't far away, in terms of time and understanding, from people being sent to asylums and that is frightening for most. People can be incredibly judgemental if a diagnosis doesn't fit their understanding of an illness. Therefore people suffering from bipolar disorder can be seen as "putting it on" ditto depression or a panic disorder.

If we expect people to better understand their own and other's mental health we need to teach it at school as a class in the way that we teach P.E.

~ In your opinion are families the biggest stigmatisers?

In my experience workplaces are the biggest stigmatisers. When our FD went into a psychiatric care facility our company alluded to his having cancer as it would be easier for him to "show his face" when he got better. Lots of men and women try to hide strong symptoms of depression rather than admit or seek help as they know they will be held back by it in future promotions.
I have been part of a boardroom discussion where a MD has claimed someone didn't have the marbles for a bigger job. He meant, had suffered from depression.

~ Who would you speak to first if you were worried about your own mental health?

I'd speak with my GP

~ Would you find this difficult? Why?

No of course not. He is the gateway to other services that I might require.

~ Who would you speak to if you were concerned about the mental health of someone in your family or a friend? Would you find this difficult? Why

I would address it with the person concerned unless I saw some fairly obvious signs of paranoia or psychosis. I would have no issue with this at all.

buterflies Thu 25-Aug-11 19:05:35

I have suffered from depression and anxiety since around 12 yr old. At that age I was dismissed as being a problem child! I made a suicide attempt (well more of a cry for help) at 16 and I felt so alone. It wasnt something I could talk to other people about at the time.

Through it all my mum was the person who pulled me through and is still the first person I talk to when I feel myself getting down.

Work know about my problems, its a small team that I work in and tbh they dont really understand but I dont care, I feel that the more people who know that mental illness exists and suffers can be (almost) normal the better.

I would say all my friends know that I have depression, however it isnt often mentioned other than if I am down I might say I am not at my best. I think most of my friends are embarrassed talking about mental illness.

I am pregnant and on medication for depression, I feel that I cant really tell anyone as they wouldnt understand the need for me to stay on meds whilst pregnant.

"Oh surely baby is more important, you only have to be off them for a few months" was one of the comments I got.

Well of course baby is very important, but so is having a mother that is well. I tried to cut the dosage down too quickly and within a week I wasnt coping, not eating and wanted to die, not good at all.

I personally dont think there is enough support for people with mental health issues.

bigun1 Thu 25-Aug-11 20:01:00

I had PND, self diagnosed and my GP went along with me. I just knew even though it was 3 years after i had given birth. I hadnt acnowledged that there was anything wrong in all that time.

I knew i was right because i went onto AD's for the first time in my life and within 2-3 weeks, i was back to my normal self again.

I told no one.
I was embarrased. I was adamant that i was completely and utterly exhausted as my child didnt sleep through a complete night till he was 5 and at school, and i was working too. Not depressed just tired and overwhelmed by the task in hand..being a mum for the first time.

Anyhow, when i came off the AD's i told every one, even people at work as i wasnt sure of how i would be and needed understanding...they were fantastic with me and very understanding.
That was 4 years ago and i have been fine since.

zippy539 Thu 25-Aug-11 21:05:08

Context: Dh has chronic depression and I have a mild anxiety disorder (it flares up now and again but I don't see it as a huge deal).

Why do you think it's still so hard for some people to talk openly to families about mental health? Should it be talked about more openly when there is an issue?

I encouraged DH to tell his parents. We have regretted it ever since - they are constantly fretting, watching him sideways for 'signs', trying to 'cheer him up' - even when he's well. It's incredibly irritating and makes him feel worse. My parents are unaware of DH's issues - though I'm sure they think he's acting out of character at times but they'd never raise it. Everyone and their mother knows about my (much more minor issues) - possibly because I regularly make entertaining stories out of my more anxious exploits. So in answer to the question - I don't know. I feel better for people knowing my issues and have found them supportive but the experience with DH's parents makes me hesitate to advocate complete disclosure all the time. Of course if people were better educated about the issues then talking opening might be less of an issue.I found MIL and PIL's level of ignorance re depression quite astounding especially as PIL suffered it himself for years.

In your opinion are families the biggest stigmatisers?

IMO - yes, along with employers. Families tend to take MH issues personally 'well I don't know who you've got it off - mind you Uncle X was always a bit odd...'

Who would you speak to first if you were worried about your own mental health?

Dh, friends and GP. In that order.

Would you find this difficult? Why?

No - not particularly. But I wouldn't have any great hope that my GP would be massively helpful - much more training needed.

zippy539 Thu 25-Aug-11 21:11:31

Who would you speak to if you were concerned about the mental health of someone in your family or a friend? Would you find this difficult? Why?

Sorry - forgot this one. I would speak to the person concerned and I don't think I'd find it too difficult. I know so many people who have had temporary or long-term MH issues that I have ceased to find it unusual. NB these are people who I met in the course of regular life/work not in any MH situation/support group.

Can I also put in a final plea for support for partners/families of people with MH issues. I have been through some V scary times with DH and would have jumped at any kind of support/contact. There was none to be had.

Besom Thu 25-Aug-11 22:21:45

The place I've talked most openly about having PND is on mumsnet. Because it's fairly anonymous. In other areas of my life it's very important to me to be seen as competent and able - someone who copes under pressure. If anything I stigmatise myself.

I do speak to close friends about it now it is over and after the fact. I didn't really confide in them at the time. Not because of how they would have reacted, they would have been understanding. But role I cast myself in didn't tally with what was happening to me, so I couldn't allow my friends to see that. The first people I talked to were some random internet forum users who persuaded me to go to the gp. I did tell my dad but he played it down and said "you don't seem depressed to me". I mentioned it again quite recenlty and he goes "I don't remember you being depressed".

Empusa Fri 26-Aug-11 16:36:35

Why do you think it's still so hard for some people to talk openly to families about mental health? Should it be talked about more openly when there is an issue?

There's still a lot of shame attached, and this idea that people with mental health problems either
a) need to pull themselves together
or
b) be locked up out of sight sad

It definitely needs to be talked about more.

In your opinion are families the biggest stigmatisers?
In my experience, the older members of families tend to be. As they are of the generation where they just didn;t talk about it, therefore they believe it never existed.

Who would you speak to first if you were worried about your own mental health?
Friends. Having friends who suffer from mental health issues means I am biased though.

Would you find this difficult? Why?
No, I do find talking to health care professionals about it difficult though. They are often dismissive, or will focus in on one issue, ignoring the larger issues. I also spent 12 years on anti-depressants with no offers of any other help, no matter how often I asked. It seems to be rare to find a doctor who knows enough to be able to offer any real help. Plus I know from talking to some of my doctors, that they are discouraged from sending patients to counselling because of the cost sad

Who would you speak to if you were concerned about the mental health of someone in your family or a friend? Would you find this difficult? Why?
Mind, or another charity. I'd find it difficult as I know there isn't much they can do, and are stretched thin as it is.

ButteryPie Fri 26-Aug-11 20:20:30

I've got to the point now where I think that having this illness is hard enough, I'm not going to go to great lengths to hide it from people too. I do come across this idea that mental illness is something you shouldn't talk about - I had bad SPD, which was physically crippling, but in myself I was fine, I was just unable to walk. People were more than happy to talk to me about that, tell me stories of when they had leg injuries, make jokes about the wheelchair being like a pram, the whole not being able to part my legs/if I'd have had that problem to start with I wouldn't be in this mess etc.

As soon as I refer to not feeling well with my bipolar, people look awkward and shuffle. They can kind of understand depression, especially if I let them assume it is pnd, but the mania is just completely impossible to talk to people about, unless I feel like basically educating them from scratch. I get very annoyed at people thinking it is basically part time depression too.

I do find it is easier to talk about medicinal side effects - eg if I was feeling bad and needed someone to watch the kids, I might say that the doctor has put me on new pills and they are making me feel really woozy. Kind of admitting that I'm ill and the doctor has been concerned, but without embarrassing them.

Very sick of people thinking it is possible to just pull yourself together as well. Once, when I was pretty ill with psychosis, a friend tried to persuade me to start hiding my medication, because "they" only wanted to curtail my creativity, and that I should just be free and paint or something. I think that, if you have never experienced mental illness to any degree, you assume it is just a bit more extreme versions of the emotions you have had, when in fact it can be a whole new ball game.

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