Everyone talks about the similarities between mental health and physical health – to which I’m an advocate of, they’re the same and equal. But what about the differences? What about how they’re treated in society and how we deal with them as individuals?
When you break your leg, it’s devastating, it’s painful, it’s a burden on your life. Which is very familiar to what a mental illness will do to you. But the difference is, a broken leg is predictable. You know that within a few weeks, you’ll be on crutches and a month or so you’ll be back on your feet again. While your leg is healing, you’re free. And once your leg is healed, you continue to be even more free. But this is not the same with a mental illness.
When you have a mental health issue, recovery isn’t something you decide one day and let things fix themselves. It’s not a passive automatic process that’ll happen anyway. It’s a conscious difficult decision that has to agonisingly be made and fought for everyday. The difference between the two is mental illnesses require you to continuously choose recovery, and to not let a day slip because that could lead you down a downward spiral all over again.
We’ll be faced with little and large decisions everyday, almost every minute. We must stay on top of our health which takes unexplainable amounts of effort, time and energy out of us. Do I repeat touching that thing or walk away? Do I leave that last piece of food or do I have it? Do I pick up the blade and use it or throw it out? These are just some of the extremely taxing and draining decisions and questions that we are confronted with all the time.
Mental health and physical health will always be two sides of the same coin, but it’s important to remember they also come with distinct differences that really impact those who suffer.