I saw a post today in a Facebook group asking if you would date someone with anxiety or depression.
It really struck a cord with me, that someone would even ask this at all, as if a person’s mental illness was what entirely defined them and no other factor about that person made any difference.
I really want people to start talking about mental illness the same way we talk about diabetes.
I’m going to put a little side note here and say I am not a doctor, I’m not a psychologist, I’m not a nurse, so all this information is simply from my own research.
Let me explain diabetes for a second. Diabetes is when the body is unable to convert glucose into energy due to lack of a hormone called insulin. A diabetic either has no insulin or does not produce a sufficient amount.
Each type of diabetes has its own complications and there are other factors involved but for the point of this post this is what you need to know.
Diabetes is very manageable. A diabetic will inject insulin into their body, monitor their blood sugar levels and try their best to maintain healthy diet and exercise.
I personally know a number of people with diabetes. Generally when I find out someone has diabetes I don’t decide it is their most defining factor. I try to change my behaviours in order to help them manage their diabetes by doing things like making sure when we go out to eat there is something on the menu that would be suitable for them, and with some of my closer diabetic friends even offer to help with insulin injections when needed.
So to sum up, diabetes is a lack of insulin, treated by medication and managing their blood-glucose levels.
I know there are lots of different types of mental illnesses but for the point of this post I’m going to talk specifically about depression.
Depression is a chemical imbalance. It is where the brain doesn’t produce enough serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. These collectively are known as monoamines – or the mood-related chemicals.
Again there are a number of other factors surrounding depression, but for now this is what you need to know.
There are a lot of different ways to treat depression, but the most common ones are taking antidepressants to help restore those chemical levels, and seeing either a psychologist or psychiatrist to look into the root causes of the depression and learning how to manage it.
So to sum up, depression is a lack of monoamines, treated by medication and learning to manage living with the illness.
I’m hoping at this stage the point I’m trying to bring across has become obvious. The two conditions, both nearly as common as the other, are very very similar medically.
So why is it that one of them makes us entirely change the perspective of how we view a person and the other is more likely to make us change our behaviour in order to help that person?
I want us to start talking about mental illness the same way we talk about diabetes, because just like diabetes, mental illness does not define a person.
- My own experiences