Guest Blog: What about the ME in Mental Health?

Silence is the absence of noise, as peace is just the absence of war. Silence defined me for so long. It was a strategy and a symptom all rolled into one.

I do not want to be silent any more. I want to say all those things I could not in my youth.

As a young man I felt something was not quite right with me. I would wake up tired, nerves tingling, muscles tight, even after eight hours of sleep. Every day was a battle. I could not shake the heaviness of my body and the heaviness in my mind. It felt like a leech was sucking the life out of me. I found no comfort in my peers, as they further reaffirmed my weirdness with teasing and laughter. I had friends, but none close enough to trust with my weird thoughts.

I grew up in a country town, where everybody knew everyone’s business, or knew someone that knew yours. Trust was not something I could afford to give. I had been burnt once and that was enough. I stayed away from parties, social situations, anywhere with an opportunity for me to embarrass or humiliate myself, or for others to do it for me. I felt like the broken toy that nobody wanted to play with.

Aged 19, after moving to Adelaide to study at university, I was diagnosed with depression and social anxiety disorder. It felt weird at first to call all those thoughts and feelings I kept inside me an illness. It just felt a part of me, an extension of my personality, even if at times it clung to me like body odour and seemed to repel anybody interested in getting to know me.

I have had mixed experiences with the mental health system. Contact with a Peer Support Worker when I was at my lowest point inspired me to get better. I had had enough of psychiatrists and psychologists. I could relate to the Peer Support Worker. He did not quote from text-books, he quoted from life.

Finally somebody who got me, who did not reduce me to neurotransmitters and complicated chemical compounds. He treated me like a human, which is all I had asked for all along.

After waiting hundreds of hours in waiting rooms, waiting for something to happen, I finally found my own method. I wasted no more hours in waiting rooms. I researched on the Internet and in libraries. I discovered my own version of happiness through Buddhist beliefs and books about happiness, stuff you don’t find in fancy text-books.

Depression and anxiety are no longer burdens for me. They both have given me great insight. You don’t BEAT depression . . . you listen to it. It’s trying to tell you something, but you’re just not listening.
For more information on depression, anxiety and mental illness, visit the Facts and guides..