Friday, 19 February 2016

Is Speaking Up About Mental Illness A Privilege?

When I first spoke out about my mental illness, I did so to 600 people from the comfort of my bed. I said words to these strangers that I'd never managed to say to my ex-girlfriend, friends or family and I did so unapologetically - all the while knowing that, when it came to it, this one single original post could potentially effect the way that people saw me, the way future employers saw me, the view that universities might have of me if I ever came to apply. I did so knowing the risks, and knowing that my voice could be one of a wave that might start something bigger, so that one day girls like me, girls not like me, and people all over the world would also be able to share their stories without worrying about the stigma and issues that might come with it. So, when I came across an article a few weeks ago about the idea that speaking up about mental health being a privilege, it irked me in all the wrong ways.

I'm quick to admit my privilege; I'm not naive in the fact that I went to a good school and got a good education, I'm from a white middle-class nuclear family in a fairly good area, I've never known poverty, nor racism, nor much hardship whatsoever; but my writing about mental illness hasn't come from a place of privilege. It came from a place of struggle, and feeling so alone - I left a job after I was negatively confronted about things that I'd written about my mental health, I've had to defend pieces to my family and friends - it's not been me writing because I'm invincible, it's been me writing (and quite honestly, losing a fair amount due to it) because I shouldn't have to be invincible, and one day I hope that my voice will have contributed to the fact that people no longer worry about writing similar things.

Spargo-Ryan, the author of the article, might indeed feel her writing comes from a place of privilege - she doesn't have to worry about her family or her job and she has a louder voice than many due to her financial and ethnical situation - but the fact is, she speaks for her alone. I do have to worry about my family, I have and will have to worry about past and future jobs - I may have a louder voice, but I'm well aware that I'm risking a lot to show people that I'm willing to use it to start a conversation. I'm not stupid, I know that I am more privileged than many, but that does nothing to contribute to my voice whatsoever. I lost a lot on the way here, I will undoubtedly lose more as I refuse to stop talking about an illness that almost rules my life - because I shouldn't have to risk anything to talk about my illness, the stigma needs to stop.

Although Spargo-Ryan undoubtedly meant well in her article; the fact is, she is further isolating those of us talking about mental illness. Possibly without meaning to what's she saying is yes, we all suffer the same, but if you are able to talk about it - you're not brave, you're in a elite that has nothing to lose. I'm sorry to say, we're all in the same boat here, we all face the same stigma, we might all lose the same - until we tackle the stigma, none of us are privileged in the eyes of mental health.

Sammy xo.

If you liked this you might like: Depression

1 comment:

  1. I’d must seek advice from you here. Which isn’t some thing It’s my job to do! I spend time reading an article that will make people think. Also, thank you allowing me to comment! depression