But, if you do suffer from a mental health condition, find it hard to talk about (but want to), there are ways! Here are some rules (which work for me) for acting upon your political beliefs without threatening your already-delicate mental state:
Use your good days to talk about mental health
When you are having a really bad time, your duty of care is first and foremost to yourself. Forcing yourself to challenge or inform a friend, colleague or family member when you really do not want to (or feeling guilty for not doing this) is not worth making yourself feel worse than you already do. When you are feeling like your usual powerful, resilient, wonderful self, use this time and energy to talk about mental health so when again, you are feeling low, you don’t beat yourself up over keeping silent.
You can always chase someone up later
If you do let an opportunity to educate slip, there is nothing wrong with bringing up a past conversation with somebody a few days later, whether this is to dispute a friend’s description of an ex as “psychotic” or to just say, “Hey, the reason I was kind of down on Tuesday was because I have depression and I was having a bad time”. If you find it easier to do this via text or Facebook, that’s completely valid too. It’s better to have some input, however late, than none at all.
Focus on the positive reactions
Through candidly talking about my mental health, I have received reactions as well-meaning but insensitive as, “Really? You don’t seem depressed”, through to an ex-boyfriend telling me, “It’s actually really hard to be in a relationship with a depressed person” (because depression is a walk in the park for me). But, I have also received expressions of solidarity and admiration, as well as people’s own experiences of mental health conditions that make me feel less alone and less broken. It is absolutely vital that I focus on the latter, and how talking about my mental health has earned me incredible support from family, friends and work, and how much more valuable this is than throwaway comments from misinformed people.
Joanna Sing: #SELFCARESUNDAYS: ‘EXPLAINING’ YOUR MENTAL HEALTH