Mental vs Physical Health

I feel that there is a need for mental health to start having an equal footing to physical health.  To try to illustrate my point, I am going to use the example of a broken leg.

When you break your leg, the first thing you do is get an x-ray to confirm the injury, it is then protected by a cast while it heals.  You are told to rest it, possibly given crutches and ordered that in no way should you use it. It is universally known that, barring any complications, it will take approximately six to eight weeks to heal.

When you have a mental health problem, the healing process is a little different. Firstly, you may not know you need help or if you want to, or can, seek help (it took me a long time to accept that I needed help). It may take longer to diagnose and for a decision about what therapies to try.  These therapies usually then consist of trial and error until you find the ones that work.

Then there is the fact that it is impossible to stop using your brain. There is no off switch, you cannot even slow it down. It just keeps going and this causes more problems if help is not sought.

But, there are the equivalent to using crutches through medication and therapy.  I have used both, and continue to do so (it’s kind of like seeing a physiotherapist after the broken leg).  Through therapy, I have learnt techniques and emotional coping skills which I continue to use everyday to help me with my Bipolar Disorder. They are my crutches.

For me, the scariest aspect was not knowing when an episode would end or whether it even would. No health professional could give me an approximation of when I would see any improvement and that fact then whirls around your brain, adding to your worries.

But, like a broken leg, it does get better.  It may take a little longer and it can be frustrating, but it does get better. The start of my healing process was accepting I had mental health problems, that I needed help and then finding the right GP.

So when I say mental health needs an equal footing, it doesn’t mean one is more important than the other but that they both have to have the same understanding and access to health care.  This will hopefully help people recognise when another person may need help, be it mentally or physically.

Image courtesy of  Pagemaker787

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