It’s that time of the week again, where I record my mental health as it’s been for the last seven days, specifically in relation to my writing/publishing process.
Today, though, things are a little bit different because it’s been a lot longer than seven days since I last updated on how the aul brain is doing. That is because the aul brain has not, in fact, been doing so well.
Most of you will already know from this week’s vlog, and also from my prolonged absence on social media, that I’ve been taking a mental health break for the last few weeks.
What started out as just a one-week hiatus turned into something much more important and much more necessary for my well-being than I initially anticipated. And although this is the platform that I have dedicated to documenting the ins and outs of my mental health during my first-time publication process, my mental health break is not what I want to discuss today.
Instead of detailing what my last three to four weeks of self-care and recovery have looked like, I want to talk about a conversation that was sparked by my mental health vlog.
I got a comment on my video from a caring and concerned family member (who, quite frankly, may not have even known that the message she sent was public rather than private). This family member wrote at length expressing concern for my well-being which is, of course, lovely and much appreciated, but one of the opening lines of the message contained a personal trigger word: “problem”.
“But at the same time, you seem to be aware that you have a problem and are more than willing to deal with it.”
I take no issue with the start or end of that sentence; it’s just that one word in the middle that prompted my response to her.
It must be said that this blog is not intended as a criticism of the person who wrote that comment on my video; the comment itself was filled with love and care and suggestions for ways to look after myself, and the conversation that followed this comment was nothing but amicable.
Having said that, though, I did feel the need to point out my problem with the terminology.
Some of you may have noticed that I rarely utter the commonly used phrase, “mental health issues”, instead opting for the term “mental health struggles” or “mental health matters”. This is a personal choice and one which may not sit well with everybody, but I feel that terms like “issues” and, indeed, “problem” imply a degree of fault.
I do not feel it is accurate to say that my anxiety or depression or any other sort of mental struggle is an “issue”; it’s a condition.
To me, “condition” is a much more accurate way to refer to the state of my mental health because it has medical connotations as opposed to other words to which blame could be attached by some uncharitable minds.
I understand that some people with the same struggles might be perfectly happy to assign words like “issue” and “problem” because, let’s face it, anxiety and depression and all their inner-demon buddies are not pleasant; they are inherently negative, like the words themselves.
Some people may feel like changing up my terminology is an attempt at sugarcoating, or denying the seriousness of poor mental health. That is not my intention at all, but I feel like using such powerful terms as “issue” and “problem” then gives too much power to the condition and could potentially strip me of credibility.
Words like “issue” and “problem”, to me, say that I am broken.
But I am certainly not broken. I have a condition with which I struggle sometimes but, to date, I always overcome it.
These struggles mean that sometimes I have to stroll through a war-zone inconveniently located right in the middle of my brain, but I do it every time.
These “problems”, I try to remind myself, are no match for me.