30 August 2013

TED Talk: Ruby Wax on Mental Illness

Below is the link to an absolutely brilliant TED talk given by Ruby Wax on the subject of mental illness.

One of the best points she made is that when someone has a physically visible illness or injury, the outpouring of sympathy can be (and often is) enormous.  You break your leg or are diagnosed with a chronic illness and everyone is sending flowers, cards, visiting you, offering to walk your dog and water your plants, etc.  The difference?  A broken leg is an injury that heals and you're more likely to get loving care & support from a broken leg than a nervous breakdown.

Like any chronic illness, mental illnesses and disorders require doctors, medications, and treatment plans.  Unlike other chronic illnesses our symptoms manifest in thoughts, feelings, words, and actions because it is our brain that is the affected organ.  Yet even when our illness is known by those around us we're accused of being melodramatic or making things up.  Of being selfish jerks or not trying hard enough because we fail to meet our obligations or disappoint those around us.

The worst is being told to "snap out of it" as if it's something we could overcome if we simply applied ourselves.  Or to "perk up" (as Ruby Wax put it) when we're depressed.  Because if that was possible, we would never have thought of that!  Right?!

Not that the insensitivity of others is deliberate even though it is still hurtful.  Most of my family doesn't know or doesn't want to talk about it or thinks of my bipolar disorder as something in the past that I've "grown out of " or that my symptoms will entirely go away because I'm on medication.

By the way... those last two items?   Not even remotely true; that's the thing with many chronic illnesses: they don't go away and they don't have a cure.

Enough of my pontificating.  Onto the video!  I guarantee you will enjoy it, laugh a few times, and quite possibly learn a few things while you're at it.

(Click the link above to view video.)

No comments:

Post a Comment