I watched Sinead O'Connor pour her heart out in a recent video blog and I felt astounded.
The point she appeared to drive home was that people are still ignorant of the various mental health issues that are plaguing millions of people. Why? Why when people say they have a physical condition do we trip over ourselves to offer words of wisdom and support? Yet, when someone cries out for help on account of a mental health issue we suggest, without making eye contact, that they "pull themselves together".
Mental health is something that is increasingly affecting our celebrities. It's easy to remove ourselves though because we tell ourselves they're rich and famous and have lives we could only dream of. What do they have to be sad about? No matter your wealth and status in the world, we all have to face ourselves when the door is closed.
Mental health illness isn't just something that affects the rich and colourful though. And it's not a passing fad. My own experience of it is not technically my own. I'm fortunate that the most I've experienced is reactive stress. Most of us can relate to that. However my experience of it is more profound than I realised early in my life.
My mum had a very serious mental health condition. When I was growing up I experienced her highs and lows. As a single parent family I know she did her best to combat it so she could bring stability into a home where our father was largely absent. It didn't always work. It was the 1980s and the world was still in a hangover from the days where mental health patients were treated abysmally; in hospitals and in society. Even our extended family had no great understanding and would tell her to pull herself together or simply stop looking for attention.
My mother committed suicide at age 43. She has missed an entire lifetime of her family growing older and half a dozen grandchildren. The irony is that her death educated us in unspeakable ways. Now we have compassion and empathy in ways that many people still don't. My mother has become a symbol of celebration for our entire family and couldn't possibly know how profoundly she is missed.
This is the heartbreaking effect of mental health illnesses. We avoid having to deal with it until we no longer have the choice. Then when we do deal with it, it's often too late in the day. I hope Miss O'Connor gets the help she not only needs, but absolutely deserves. She is no different to any other person with an illness. She needs nurtured back to health. I just hope it isn't too late.