Arora Appleby

a journal of healing, learning + loving

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Mental health vs Mental illness

Mental health and mental illness aren't the same thing. Sorry to break it to you, but you cannot cure a mental illness with a hot bath or a long walk. Mental illness is just that: an illness of the brain - you can't cure the flu by reading a book or reciting affirmations so you shouldn't expect to cure a mental illness with those methods either. That's not to say reciting affirmations or reading is bad.. they're actually very good for your mental health. 

So what's the difference? 

Mental Health is, to me, the healthiness of your brain (duh) so to keep it healthy, or to try and make it healthier you would do such things as read, have a hot bath, cry, make a brew, go for a long walk etc. etc. But really, those things are just for the aesthetic, they look good on paper and on Instagram. They contribute to a healthy mind of course but they aren't the fundamental things you should be doing to maintain a healthy brain.

Mental Illness, to me, is an illness of the brain (again, duh) so it would affect your actions, your moods, and who you are as a person. It's an imbalance of chemicals in your brain (but really, scientists don't know the exact cause of mental illness, just that something's going on and it's not right.) Mental Illness is treatable, you can have medication, therapy, or both but it takes a lot of time and hard work. I don't mean to sound patronising, but we've all had those people who have told us to do this or do that and we'll feel better - that it'll somehow cure our depression/anxiety/other mental illness. "Stop worrying" says Robert, the 54 year old CEO who's been sheltered from the world by mummy and daddy - gee thanks, why didn't I think of that? *serious side eye*

We need to stop mixing Mental Health and Mental Illness because it's sending the message that a hot bath or what other bullshit sounds good will cure a mental illness when it wont. These messages prevent people getting the help they truly need because none of their role models are showing a clear way of how to get better. We as bloggers writers, no, as humans, have an influence over those younger than us, those more vulnerable than us and those more lost than us and we are not setting a great example or sending a true message when we write fucking listicles about '5 things to do when you're depressed' and none of those pointers say GO TO YOUR DOCTOR! So I am saying it.

If you feel as though you are Mentally Ill, go to your doctor. I know it's easier said than done and I'm not going to lie to you and say you won't feel judged or embarrassed because you probably will. You will feel that way because there's still a stigma surrounding Mental Illness and a lot of people still don't think it exists, but, the only thing that truly matters is you getting the help you need. I've had some fucking awful doctors and the worst case scenario is you get referred to a therapist or you get a number to call to make a self referral. The best case scenario is your doctor makes you feel at ease and gives you loads of useful tips, websites information and refers you to a therapist. Either way, you will have made the first step to getting better so those Mental Health tips you've read so much about can start to actually work.

There's so much to say on the subject but the main point is, if you are or feel that you are in any way mentally ill, please please please go to your doctor and get help. Therapy and/or medication might not be right for you but it's a good place to start. It's a starting point to finding out what will/might work for you and your brain. I really hope this doesn't come across as ignorant, as someone with depression and anxiety I tried to ignore it for years parring it off as 'oh I've not meditated' or 'I just need to speak more kindly to myself' which isn't wrong but it's not addressing the actual issues that were going on.

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