We’ve all got mental health but not necessarily a mental illness. There’s a big difference.

“I am just so depressed.” “I feel anxious.”

Through all the brilliant work on ending the taboo around mental illness, have we now opened the flood gates to everyone using terms loosely such as “depressed,” “anxious, “OCD” and “paranoid.”

I was speaking to a counsellor recently and she said that she was having a lot of calls from young people saying that they were depressed, when in fact, she said they were experiencing stress rather than full-blown depression.
And obviously stress is horrible and you may need help but it is not the same as depression.

mama Mei youtube logo

Mental Health or Mental Illness

Don’t get me wrong I am no PC brigade but I do think we have diluted language around mental illness so much so, that we do not always appreciate how serious such illnesses are.

I have been diagnosed with depression. Depression isn’t just a feeling of “being a bit down,” for me, it is chronic. When I am bad, depression makes me struggle to see the reason for living. Depression makes me stop doing things I enjoy (unless it’s exercise because then my Eating Disorder tendencies kick in). It makes me think that people would be better off without me.

My Psychosis episodes are the hardest to deal with as my reality isn’t the same as everyone else’s.

I also have severe anxiety which can be debilitating and cause paranoia. This isn’t a woe me post, but I just want people to understand the complexities of mental illness.

I read a brilliant article recently on why mental illness isn’t the same as a broken leg.

I totally agreed with this piece because suffering from a mental illness is very much different from breaking a leg. Although when I do sometimes compare my mental illness to a physical ailment such as a broken leg, it is not because Psychosis and having a broken leg is the same experience, but I would like people to treat me with the respect of someone with a broken leg.

If you’re unsure about what language to use, I suggest reading this brilliant blog from depression charity Blurt on the language we use around mental illness and why it matters.

So what do we do? Say nothing at all?

Absolutely not. I think awareness raising has been strong over recent years but now we need to steer the conversation to understand the complexities of mental illness. It is not necessarily just someone dressed in black rocking in a dark room, nor is it someone who feels “depressed” by the football.


We need to have helpful conversations and ask questions.

An example of such conversations is #MentalHealthHour on twitter. I was pleased to be a guest on it last week and I was asked some fairly deep questions about what my diagnoses means on a daily basis.

This was difficult to describe but really refreshing that someone had asked rather than just assume.

So I thought I’d share some of the conversation here.

A huge thanks to Mental Health Hour for having me as a guest tweeter! You can join the conversation on Sundays 9-10pm IST.

How do you think we can help with the mental health conversation?

%d bloggers like this: