Friday, October 7, 2011

Communication and Mental Health

I have a secret. One that not many people know. It's not really my secret but more my family's secret. It's not really a secret either, it's just not brought up often. Here goes.

The mister has no interest AT ALL in mental health or psychology. It's not that he isn't supportive in my quest to study, advocate, pursue a career or speak out about my personal mental health problems. He's just not interested. He listens to my enthusiastic ravings but I can see his eyes glaze over. He tries, he really does. He'd much rather know how everything works, like a machine. He's into the mechanics of things, including the human body and brain, whereas that goes in one of my ears and out the other. We'd be awesome in exams, he'd do the physiological and I'd do the psychological.

The mister also has trouble believing that many mental illnesses exist. That's not to say he doesn't support me with mine but he doesn't understand it because he's just not interested. He doesn't stop me from speaking out, he reads what I write about mental health and is supportive in every way though.

I believe him being uninterested doesn't affect my mental health though nor his. We are open communicators and discuss our emotions, observations and perceptions about everything. We are comfortable in knowing that disagreeing with the other person doesn't make them or you stupid and doesn't mean you love each other any less. We value that we are different people and support each other no matter what. That means we can disagree in public but we debate rather than criticise, we discuss rather than argue and we don't put each other down.
I'm highly opinionated, always have been and always will. I've made and lost friends due to it. I've argued, bickered and stewed over topics with my family, friends, teachers and exes but never have I encountered the mature level of communication the mister and I share. I find it hard to say I'm wrong (I rarely am so I'm not used to it) but the mister has taught me that it's ok to admit you are wrong. It doesn't mean you are less of a person, in fact the opposite.

It's because of our communication and his support I am finding my voice again. I'm finding that I'm determined to help people and that I, one person without sufficient credentials, can help make a difference. 

So, I thank the mental illness skeptic in my life for supporting me in talking about my mental health and helping others talk about theirs. I know that if I didn't have his support though I could find support through expected mental health supporters like LifelineSANE, my online community - twitterfacebookDigital Parents, blogs, friends or family. Support can also be found through doctors, teachers, co-workers, and mental health professionals such as mental health nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists.

Do you have an unexpected supporter in your life?


  1. Good on you guys for having this open communication. I come from a country where mental illness is very different. I've only really been educated since coming to oz.

  2. I have a similar relationship with my husband. It's not that he's not interested, it's just that he's so damn well-adjusted that he doesn't get it - has never suffered a truly down day in his life.

    He's the best support anyone could ever ask for though. We talk absolutely everything through. And like yours, he makes it ok to admit to being wrong without judgement.

  3. Your mister sounds like my dad - which might sound a bit weird, but its true.
    My dad has always been my sounding board and although he has quite often been a bit cyncial about mental illness or the importance of therapy ( he's one of these people that feel 90% of counsellors and pyschologists are just there to take your money ) he has never once mocked my illness or made me feel inferior or strange or whatever for having one...

  4. Hello Tutu

    a lovely heartfelt post - thank you for sharing.

    Hmmm.... Unexpected supporter..... No I don't actually think I do!

    I tend to help others mostly - I think I die of shock when someone helps me - and from that I think sometimes I find it hard to accept help - or at least I used to - though now I really wish I had people who "unexpectedly" supported me.

    I have a wonderful family and they are the strongest "expected" supporters - I suppose that is all that matters.
    I feel I have been led up some 'garden paths' with BS that some other people have spilled to me about what they intend to do for me and the BS is simply that and always was - just BS!

    have a gorgeous day gorgeous gal




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