I’ve always been an oddball, a fact that anyone who knows me and especially those who have known me for years will promptly agree to. At 26-years-old, soon to be 27, I’ve been called many things… dark, crazy, ‘special’, etc but the words weird or odd tend to be used most frequently. I really don’t mind because I know it’s true, and I know those who throw the labels around would be quite astonished to realise just how right they are. I am odd, and I accept that. I have been through, and continue to endure a lot, both personally and by extension as I tend to empathise deeply with the people I love, almost to the point of self-ruin… a good and bad thing, I hear.
This post, however, is not about me. Well, not entirely. Today I am introducing a new feature/series of sorts (I have created a tag called The Mental Health Diaries) that will explore my experiences with mental illness in Jamaica, as well as factual information from actual mental health young professionals (and other persons like myself for whom the issue is close to home) who will be contributing to my blog.
Why am I taking this on?
I deal with mental illness, the effects, the stigma, the highs and lows daily. In fact, it is not an issue that’s close to home for me… it is IN my home. My mother and younger sister, who I am VERY close to, are both schizophrenic and I am very heavily involved in their ‘medical lives’. Also, over the years I’ve realised that mental illness is highly misunderstood and more often than not, automatically stigmatised as ‘madness’ in Jamaica. A sad state of affairs, but a very real one, and the more I hear of cases that come up and how they are handled, or hear comments from uneducated persons on the matter, the more it hurts me. But I am a woman of action so I’ve decided to do my part (however small some may deem it to be) to change this by speaking out… starting right here with my blog. If you would like to get involved, please feel free to send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
As you can understand, this is and has always been a highly stressful situation and I don’t purport to be a mental health specialist. I’m still learning more about it every day and continue to crave new information, but I do realise that people with these diseases are often treated as outcasts once they ‘come out’, and that having a great support group makes a world of difference, so yes, I think I am qualified to speak on the matter… and speak I will. Especially after so many years of being ridiculed and blighted as a result, and given the at-risk ‘hmmm you might just be next on the crazy train’ treatment by idiots who just don’t fucking get it. That has always been extremely difficult for me, especially as I also suffer from depression. I can only begin to imagine how my mother and sister, and anyone else living with one feels… even more so in Jamaica. Today has been particularly trying for me mentally/emotionally, because there’s a lot to think about and a lot of hurt recalled as I am now activating this idea I’ve had forever to put pen to paper, or in this case, fingers to keyboard. I’ve actually been sitting before my laptop for the past four hours, and now, finally, after reminding myself that every journey begins with that one first step, I’m happy to be here.
I leave you with one of my favourite songs that I find perfectly explains how I feel now and pretty much always, as well as a request to share these posts when they do go up to help educate others. We do need a wake-up call where this is concerned. Especially in Jamaica.
Love and light,