Mental Health Awareness

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Sylvia Plath

This week is mental health awareness week (in France, at least) yet little will be said. On the web. In the news. Around me.  No manifestation is planned where  I live. It makes me sad to see it will be a long haul before attitudes change towards mental illness. Please share a little something. A link to a website, to a book, to a blogpost... Feel free to share here as well!

"Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of but stigma and bias shame us all." - Bill Clinton

I'm tired of the get over it's, suck it up's, if you weren't so lazy's, get a job and you'll get better's,  it takes five minutes to send a text's, the just calm down's. 


Stop the stigma. Educate yourself. 

You don't get over cancer or a broken arm. You don't get over a mental illness either. You heal through care and support. 
You party all night and have to go to work hungover? That's when you suck things up. 
You stay in bed all morning and call off work? That's being lazy. 
Not getting out of bed because the world overwhelms you and you have panick attacks just thinking about the things you'll have to go through this day? That's not being lazy. 
A job is not a magical wand that erases all problems.

I'm sick and tired of the ignorance of people. I sure can pretend everything is ok. I can. I'm pretty good at it what's more. What for? At what cost? So people around me can feel more comfortable. So they don't have to be reminded I have a mental disease (they don't even want to acknowledge I have one in the first place). Does it help? Does it bring me comfort? 
It makes things worse for me. It gives power to my illness. Power over me. 

My life is a living hell. My mental issues have been destroying my life for the past four years. Almost five. That's a long time. I used to study at the Louvre School. That's a very prestigious school. I loved what I did. I truly did. I can say with no shame that at some point, paintings have saved me. I would say to myself : go to the Louvre and look at one painting and then go back home. Art soothes. But it wasn't enough. I had to give up on my studies, went to see a couple of psychiatrists, was heavily medicated, tried to live a little, got back to studying at the Louvre. But the disease was still there. I didn't even make it 3 months this time. I was hospitalised for three months (!!) after some long dark time and was expected (yes, expected...) to be cured so I got back to the Louvre. Again. 4 months after I had another meltdown and haven't been able to get my life back on tracks since. I have no job. I have no projects. I have no prospects. I have almost no friends. I have a family that will not support me when it comes to psychiatric expenses (or psychiatric anything). And I'm struggling every single day.
You might think I'm exaggerating. It doesn't make it less true for me.

My number one goal is to get better now. I'm not going to enter into the details but therapy is expensive and I haven't been able to afford it so far. I'm getting back into it.  Please let me spread my bitterness all over here and say : I wouldn't have stayed with a broken arm for five years. 

That's the harsh reality of mental health. 

When I say my life is a living hell, I mean it. I feel everything so deeply, so strongly, it's hard to cope with. Try to recall one time when you were really sad. Or really angry. Or really stressed. Something that in hindsight made you think : wow that was a little disproportionate. Remember how deeply you felt that emotion, how you could not control it but had the sense that something wasn't so right. Then multiply it by ten. Well that's what I live every day. With almost everything. You felt such a strong emotion because you had been pushed over the edge. That's where I live. On the edge. Every stimulus makes me shift. That's a dangerous place to live. It's a remote, lonely, insecure place because my condition itself made it so but also because people's ignorance made it so. I want to talk about it but being constantly invalidated in my suffering made me stop.

Of course, there are people who have been there for me and without whom I wouldn't be here. I hold them so dearly in my heart for not giving up, for going through the chaos that I create myself again and again, I am forever grateful for them to patiently try to make me see the light when I  am wallowing in darkness  And sad because some know because they know what it's like and I wish no one to know what it's like. I'm not asking people to fully understand. I'm asking for more tolerance, more empathy and more understanding : information is important. Unfortunately, we are not informed. 

So this post's purpose is just to tell you :
Please, if someone you know struggle with a mental disease, don't feed them a 'get over it'. I know these reactions stem mostly from lack of knowledge. Be here for them, ask questions, try to know what they suffer from (if possible) and learn about it. I know there are good websites/forums all over the Internet about mental diseases.

One thing I learnt from my short art history studies is : you  can only love what you know. Learn. Know them, be there for them and love them. That is all you need to do on this earth. 

Book recommendations (please add yours in the comments):

Powerful novels first : 

The Bell Jar / La Cloche de Détresse - Sylvia Plath (depression, suicide)

La Nausée / Nausea - Jean-Paul Sartre (existential angst)

Tender is the Night / Tendre est la nuit - F. Scott Fitzgerald (schizophrenia, probably)

The Marriage Plot / Le Roman du Mariage - Jeffrey Eugenides (depression)

Opium / Opium -  Jean Cocteau (addiction, rehabilitation)

Exister, Neuberger (depression seen positively, existentialism)

Apart from the first one, I did not very much like these books by Cyrulnik (mostly because of style) but I know they've been very helpful for a lot of people:

De chair et d'âme - Boris Cyrulnik (attachment, environmental conditions, soul and neurobiology)
Les nourritures affectives - Boris Cyrulnik (affectivity, social interactions, emotions)
Les vilains petits canards - Boris Cyrulnik (resilience)
Mourir de dire : La Honte - Boris Cyrulnik 

Some spiritual reading, delving into the negative hold of ego, the healing power of the present moment :

The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle
A New Earth - Eckhart Tolle

7 commentaires:

  1. Wow. Your post was really moving; I had no idea you were struggling so hard...
    No, mental issues are not weakness or caprice or whatever. It's a life time struggle. But, you're right, we don't talk about that, people usually don't know a single thing about mental issues...
    I studied psychologie, and now, I work as a social worker in a daily care center for children with mental diseases. I don't claim to know everything about mental health, but, at least, I know all the pain that mental issues can cause...
    I really hope you don't suffer to much from the people judgement. (f**k them after all^^).
    There is a book I love "la conjuration des imbéciles".
    You wrote in english, so I tried to do the same :)
    A big big hug for you <3

    1. Merci pour ton message, qui m'a beaucoup touchée!
      Oui je pense qu'on se rend plus compte du fardeau que ça peut être quand on y est confronté quotidiennement dans les aspects pratiques, comme dans ton travail, qui doit être très dur mais gratifiant!
      Je ne connaissais pas la Conjuration des Imbéciles, allez hop sur ma liste!

  2. wow. what a powerful post. thank you so much for sharing your struggles. i'd love to learn more/be a sympathetic and understanding ear if you ever need me. please feel free to email me anytime and let me know what's going on <3 i adore you.

    1. Caitlin, thank you for being on this Earth! I am so glad we got to meet virtually and really hope one day we can meet in real life!
      Thank you for your kind and understanding support!

  3. Just sending you my love, some hugs and kisses and saying well done for being so brave and sharing a part of yourself with us. I was anorexic and bulimic a few years ago and just as you say, people just expected me to get over it, to get better so they could move on with their lives I suppose. But I was dying inside. I found support groups, and they did me a lot of good, so as praying to God, even if I didn't believe at the time. Now I can say I'm cured although I do have my dark moments. I sincerely hope you get better, no for the rest of us, but for yourself. Living every day in hurt is no way to live when life can be beautiful. I'm sending you all my best, really. Love, xxx

  4. Oh Aurelie I'm so so sorry to read about your suffering, my heart just aches for you. I don't know why we're each faced with the challenges we are, but I have to believe there's a reason. And I believe you will come out the other side of this one day, with a deeper appreciation for life than anyone who hasn't suffered could ever have. I believe often it's the most tender-hearted, the most creative, the most beautiful souls who struggle with mental health issues. I'm sure that you are one of them. Please take care of yourself. Keep searching for your answers. I will keep you in my prayers. xx- Sarah

    1. Merci so so much for your kind words Sarah! You are right the darkest times bring us to the brightest places! You're in my thoughts too. Love x



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