Anybody suffering with depression will tell you how exhausting it is. Mentally, of course, it's exhausting to fight with yourself every single day, it's exhausting and painful and as much as we mean that mentally - we mean it physically too. My depression causes aches and pains in my joints - it was one of the symptoms that tipped my doctor off as to my mental illness, it cause physical exhaustion through lack of sleep. When we say it's painful we of course mean it mentally, but we've nearly always meant it physically too - so why are we now releasing this information like it's some sought after trade secret, a big revelation?
In the last few weeks it's been reported that mental illnesses like depression mean that the body reacts different to warding off pain - but like I said, we could have told you that. I could have told you that before I was ill I barely ever got muscle pains, barely ever got ill; but since I've been depressed I find that my joints and muscles ache from basic exercise, I find that I'm more susceptible to colds, coughs, general little niggly illnesses that I never really seemed to pick up before. You might not know the link between physical and mental illness, but it seems simple to me; it's the same as when you get a new tattoo, or a few new piercings and your body has to heal them so your skin breaks out. Your body has to be so fixed on helping to heal the most sick part of you, in this case your depression, that is has no time to worry about fixing the little niggly things like bone aches, coughs and colds.
But this isn't me being bitter about studies telling me what I already know - this is me being bitter because I've seen sufferer after sufferer shout from the roof tops about how our pain is physical as well as mental, we've searched for the links in ourselves, but it seems that until now nobody has been listening. Millions and millions of ill people were cast aside, but a scientific study made the news. Now that it's in the news, it seems like we should take it more seriously; the idea that mental illness can cause some sort of physical pain seems to have legitimised the illness - before, it was just mental. Now, it might be physical; so we must put more effort towards helping it, we must try harder to tackle it.
Of course I'm not bashing more help for the mentally ill, because god knows we need it. I've seen first hand what little there is in the way of help for those hurting themselves, those a hair away from killing themselves - but I want it because mental illness is every bit as bad as a physical illness, not because mental illness can be linked to a physical one. I don't want physical illness to be the catalyst for more help - it should have been there for mental illness in it's own right, we deserve help whether it's our heads that metaphorically ache, or our feet that literally do. I just think it's time that we started listening to sufferers - it's time that we started helping them.
What do you think?
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