“I’m a bit mad, sure. But I’m not actually crazy, am I?”
“Anyway, what have I got to be depressed about?”
I asked myself both of those questions when I was struggling with depression; even more when I was then diagnosed borderline bipolar. I have all the trappings of privilege so unjustly and automatically afforded to white, male, educated middle class westerners. I could bathe in that horrible soup of privilege. I interrogated myself about my moods as often as I heard people pontificating about the second question. Indeed, if I had €1 for every time someone purposely or accidentally questions the existence of mental health, I could bathe in coins instead of privilege-flavoured water.
Here’s a thought: it isn’t my fault that I’m bipolar. It isn’t a choice that I make to struggle with my mood sometimes. It isn’t me indulging in my feelings too much, or spending my easy existence “thinking too much”. I’m not “broken”, and I don’t need “fixing”. Each one of us is thrown in the deep end of a swimming pool as cold as the water we’ve recently taken to drenching ourselves with, and expected to swim to the other end. That’s life. On the way, it throws Experience with a capital “e” in our faces. We’re expected to cope; no one prepares you for it. No one can. My experiences (small “e” now – confusing, I know) are very different to yours, and quite beyond anyone else’s total comprehension. My reactions are no less legitimate than yours.
Just because I’ve had an easier life than most doesn’t mean that I can’t struggle with my mental health. Next time you feel like voicing your confusion at what some people could possibly be “a bit sad about”, check yourself, and don’t.