Is it just me or am I mad?
Written by zz.james
Wednesday, 07 July 2004
It’s always struck me as an odd term – ‘mad’ not only is it confusing since it also means to be angry (a mad man being quite different to a madman) it’s also one of those blanket terms that cover anyone who’s either suffering a mental illness, taking some kind of risk or just ‘thinks differently’ to the majority.
Anyway, if you’re ever thinking ‘is it just me or….’ then fear not (if the thought that it is brings fear that is…) because recent figures show that one in four of us will ask for some form of professional help due to mental health problem, one in five people are on ‘psychoactive’ medication [source: world health organisation, government statistics office].
These figures made me think of a passage in Susan Sontag’s book ‘Illness as a metaphor’ – In the early part of the 20th Century, Artists often pretended to have consumption (Tuberculosis) as it was the fashion to believe the pathos and the tragedy of the artist was enhanced. By the mid 20th Century (after world war II) Artists were pretending to be ‘clinically insane’ as this was considered to enhance their status as ‘uniquely minded’ – with the kind of statistics we’re seeing for mental health service use the scarcity value of claiming to be crazy has all but dissapeared. The truth is many people suffer mental illness and it isn’t glamourous at all.
One of first experiences I had after completing a few therapy sessions was to go meet my friends in the pub, listen to them talk about their problems and think – “oh man, you should get therapy” – so I wouldn’t be at all suprised if it turned out that for the number of problems that get reported and diagnosed at least as many go undocumented – that would be 50% of the populatoin.
That’s why I feel strongly about positive mental health projects in the community. Lets make an effort to learn how to look after each other, because we’re all in this togther – your friends, your family, your neighbours, you and me.