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Posted by Philip on 30 June 2017, 4:48 pm in , , , , ,

Have we got mental health wrong?

Last week I started taking anti-anxiety medication. After six years, starting with the neighbours in 2011-2012 and culminating in the car saga earlier this year, I decided I needed help. I was sick of feeling like shit most of time.

So I went to my GP last week and asked for help. He assessed me on the Kessler (K10) scale for depression and anxiety — I scored 30 out of 50, qualifying me for treatment with SRRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) and psychological therapy.

He then explained to me, drawing pictures, what causes anxiety in the brain. This was a huge revelation to me.

Essentially, anxiety and depression happen when hormones and chemicals in the brain become depleted and affect the transmission of electrons across synapses. What I realised is that is no less physical as the impact of brain damage that impacts my physical function.

I take medication — muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatories — to mitigate the physical effects of my brain dysfunction on my physical function. I feel no shame or stigma.

Yet I feel like taking medication for anxiety or depression, despite or because of the worthy recoveries of the likes of John Kirwan and Mike King, still elicits judgement.

My unique physical function (Cerebral Palsy) was created by an event — my traumatic, 48-hour birth. My unique emotional function (anxiety) was created by several events — bullying neighbours for two years followed by the purchase of a $100k+ car that I couldn't drive.

I can't see any difference. Like disability activists have fought to see disability as a social issue, so I see a need to reframe mental illness from an individual to a social paradigm.

An event causing physical difference in my brain created physical uniqueness. Events causing physical difference in my brain created emotional uniqueness.

I now take medication to allieviate both effects. What's the difference?

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