On 12th November I’ll be speaking on a panel for Ladybeard magazine on mental health. I wrote a piece for their website here about my own thoughts on mental health and the problems with the mad/sane binary.
I’ve experienced mental health struggles for most of my life. For me, like many of us, that means that I’ve had a high level of self-critical background noise a lot of the time: thoughts that I’ve done something terribly wrong, or that I will do, or that there’s something wrong with me. It often manifests as a low, heavy mood: a kind of grey fog over everything that makes it difficult to see things clearly, to make decisions, or to appreciate the beauty of the world around me. At its worst, it has tipped into extreme self-loathing and the urgent wish to eradicate the ‘bad’ parts of me in order to make myself acceptable.
Despite these experiences I’ve always been reluctant to label myself with the terms that might seem obvious when you read this description. I’ve probably ticked the boxes for several of the recognised ‘psychiatric disorders’ in my time, but I don’t feel comfortable identifying as a person with depression, as mentally ill, or as having a psychological problem. Equally I don’t feel comfortable identifying as sane, mentally well, or psychologically healthy. As with so much in life, I feel that the binary – in this case between ‘mad’ and ‘sane’ – is actually part of the problem. Read more….