“Mental health is a subject we all, whoever we are, still instinctively avoid”
~ Ed Miliband, Labour party leader
This blog post is not about politics.
I just want to make that very clear.
I do not care if you vote Conservative, or Labour, or if you’re a staunch supporter of the Green party. Maybe you don’t vote at all?
I do not care.
I really do not care about what you thought of Ed Miliband’s speech on Monday morning at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, where he addressed the taboo encircling mental health within today’s society. He’s already been dissed, of course he has. For using ‘mental health’ to boost his image. A strategic ploy to make people ‘like’ him. He’s even been compared to a Neo-Liberal scoundral.
I do not care.
Do you know what I do care about?
I care that Ed Miliband stood up. As a human being. As a man. And that he spoke.
Fuck what government party he sides with.
I care that he SPOKE.
“For far too long leading politicians from all parties, including my own, have maintained an almost complete silence about mental health”.
You know what? It’s not only party politicians! How many of us are maintaining this silence?
I’ve HEARD the vociferous silence.
I’ve listened to the whispers; “She’s the one whose Mum killed herself”.
I’ve noticed the hesitant stares, the averting eyes.
I’ve witnessed the awkward grimace of someone who just doesn’t know what to say.
What do you say?
“Fighting the taboo is the first thing we need to do”.
YES, Ed Miliband. Yes we do.
I’m fighting it.
In my corner of the world.
In my corner of society.
I’m fighting it for my dad, and my sister, and my grandma, and my nephew, and my niece.
I’m fighting it for ME.
I’m fighting it because I WILL NOT allow the devastation that my mum’s suicide caused my family to go unnoticed, to be brushed under the carpet, like it didn’t happen.
And I’m talking about.
Mental health affects ALL of us.
You think it doesn’t? You can’t think of a single person you know who is struggling with mental health problems right now?
What about the lady who lives at the end of your street? The ‘loner’. The ‘weirdo’. The one who keeps her curtains drawn. The one you rarely see. The one who suffers with dilapidating agoraphobia and panic attacks.
What about Dave at work? Dreary Dave. The one who never joins in. Miserable bastard. The one who never smiles. The one who suffers from severe depression.
“Far too often there is skepticism and abuse. Abuse that reinforces the taboo. And it’s not just casual name calling in the streets or the school playground”.
Miliband spoke of celebrities, people in the public eye, individuals who can use their fame and notoriety to make a difference, to talk, to scream their message from the rooftops, to make people sit up and listen. To educate. Celebrities such as Stephen Fry, for example, the comedian, who often talks candidly about his struggles with manic depression.
And then, Miliband continued, “there are still people who abuse the privilege of their celebrity to insult, demean and belittle others”.
People such as Jeremy Clarkson, who remarked that the bodies of people who had committed suicide, or ‘Johnny Suicides’, as he called them, should be left on train tracks rather than delay journeys.
My mum was a ‘Johnny Suicide’.
A ‘Johnny Suicide’ who chose to end her life in front of a train.
I’m sure she delayed a few train journeys that morning.
The morning that not only saw a woman choose to end her life, but to end the lives of her family as they knew it. Lives that would have to be patched up and sewn together again at the seams; a patchwork quilt of grief, loss and devastation.
It affects ALL of us.
And I’m TALKING about it.