Let’s talk Mental Health

I have a confession to make. The intention behind this blog was not merely to write about university and I hope to incorporate other things, for there is far more to life than just studying. Originally it consisted of posts relating to how my mental health issues influenced my education. I then had a change of heart and went back and edited out all of the parts that were important. Now I’d like to add them back in.

‘We all exist along a spectrum, with one side considered to be an absence of a trait and the other, its most extreme manifestation.’

Revealing this to you is incredibly difficult because in doing so, I am vulnerable. Through my writing I have forged a relationship with you but by leaving out the things that make me, me. It’s as if I am peeling off my skin and letting you in to see the deepest parts of mind that we have all been told should remain secret. I shouldn’t have to feel ashamed of talking about how I feel and I shouldn’t feel as if every atom making up my body is flawed. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Mental illness sufferers exist. We’re here and we’re struggling. But we’re surviving.

There is so much overlap between what is considered normal and healthy and what is considered not to be and the best way to describe this is an idea that was taught in my psychology class. We all exist along a spectrum, with one side considered to be an absence of a trait and the other, its most extreme manifestation. Most people sit somewhere in the middle. Take hallucination as an example. The most extreme form of hallucination that the majority of people will experience in their lifetime would be dreaming, and as you move further along the spectrum there are auditory and visual hallucinations that, when occurring naturally, could be classified as psychosis. Then on the other end- some people don’t ever remember their dreams. It leads one to wonder what must be done for everyone to realise that mental illness need not be so alienated.

I’ve been told multiple times that my depression is all in my head and to me that’s an obvious observation. Of course it’s in my head, where else would it be? Just because it’s in my head it doesn’t mean that it isn’t real. The world as each of us know it is a subjective construct of our own mind. All we can see is what our brain has pieced together with the information it has received from our eyes. We still think the world is real. So then why do some people assume there is a difference?

This is something that I live with every day but not something that I want to keep hidden forever and not something that I want to let prevent me from achieving my dreams. I’m at university, one that I’ve dreamt about attending for years, and it’s amazing. I didn’t think this would ever be a reality as I assumed I was too dumb, too sick and not motivated enough. Getting accepted made me wonder if this is what Harry felt like when he found out he was a wizard, for Melbourne uni is like our own little Hogwarts. Of course it’s only the beginning and it matters less where someone is studying but what they do with the knowledge. At the time, it felt like somebody was patting me on the back for my efforts and that they were realising that there was more to me than what I saw, more than what those around me saw. But now I’m realising that of course there is.

Human beings are complex; we are like onions whose layers never stop revealing more. My year 12 English teacher once told us that our ideas should be like onions but I think people are the biggest onions there could ever be. We can explain more about nature and space than we can about ourselves and our own brains and that, to me, is the saddest truth of all.

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