If you’ve ever suffered from mental illness or wonder whether you might, don’t worry, you’re not alone. The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that 20% of adult Australians suffer from some form of mental illness in any given year – apparently the other 80% of us just appear miserable for no good reason.
To me, that’s an amazing figure. Look at your friends or family or worse, your mirror, and do the maths. One in five of us! Even though I’m one of them, I used to think this figure couldn’t possibly be right but the older I get and the more I learn, the more I believe it.
One of the reasons it seems so hard to swallow is that sufferers don’t tend to advertise the fact. In fact, the Black Dog Institute estimates that 65% of sufferers never say a word. They suffer in silence in the belief that to raise their hands is to risk their lives collapsing like a house of cards.
Sometimes, realising you have a problem can be difficult. After all, mental illness isn’t like a dose of gastric or the flu. There aren’t always blatantly obvious, tell-tale signs. So here’s a bit of advice for free: Even if you only have a vague suspicion that there’s something wrong, do something. Speak to a friend, see a doctor or if you’re feeling really bad ring Lifeline (13 11 14) or visit the emergency ward of your local hospital.
Don’t be embarrassed and don’t be ashamed. Mental illness is just that, an illness, and illnesses can be managed or even cured.
One thing you can do is read this blog. In it you’ll find the answers to such age-old questions as why sick leave may leave you sicker, whether to confide in your colleagues, what life’s like in a mood disorder clinic or why my chemist drives a Porsche.
Welcome to the world of mental illness and mental health. Welcome to Club20.
Please note: I took the above image on my way to work one day. I sought no permission from the people in it but I love it. I hope it causes no offence to anyone.