Physical vs Mental Illnesses

Why is it that there are such differing attitudes when it comes to mental and physical health problems. They’re both illnesses are they not? This week especially made me think about this because of what people have said and my parents attitude towards it all.

When someone has depression and are visibly unhappy, they can be told to just ‘be happy’ and when someone has an eating disorder they can be told to just ‘eat normally, it’s not that hard is it?’ But if someone has the flu, are they told to just ‘stop having a runny nose, stop sneezing, stop having a fever?’ If someone has a broken arm, are they told to just ‘stop being in pain and grow your bone back?’

They’re both illnesses aren’t they? But because with mental health problems it’s not necesarilly visible, unlike a flu or a broken bone, it’s not seen as an illness that’s as ‘real’ as a physical problem.

The attitude towards medication too. The KHL counsellor talked about this and it made me think and what he said is true. In the past, when I’ve gone to the doctor when I’ve been sick with for example a flu, the doctor’s prescribed medicine to treat it and my parents are ‘Yep, you need medicine, let’s go to the pharmacy to go get this prescription now.’ But when my psychiatrist has wanted to prescribe me medication twice now, my parents’ attitude is, ‘No, I don’t think it’s a good idea, I think you can go without.’ Is someone with diabetes expected to just ‘go without?’ Why do people get all funny about being on a psychotropic drug?

I’m just sick of mental health problems not being taken as seriously. People can die of mental health problems too. People can kill themselves when they are suffering with an illness like depression. People can starve themselves literally to death with an illness like anorexia nervosa.

Because a mental health issue is something that’s in your head and something you can’t see, it may not seem real to a lot of people, but it sure as hell feels real to me.

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