I have left the house the grand total of 1 time this week so I really don’t have any wheelchair adventures to document this week. Instead, I thought I’d chat about something I’ve experienced within chronic illness, the reason for my wheelchair use.
As some of you may know, a few days ago on Saturday 10th October it was World Mental Health Day.
I think most of us have had some level of internal struggle with mental health over this past 6 months. The pandemic has changed many of our lives in so many different ways. People have lost loved ones, gotten ill themselves, lost jobs or changed roles significantly, had to emergency home school, some have missed celebrations, had life experiences ripped from them, had medical procedures postponed, lost vital social contact… really the list could go on and on.
I saw many copied and pasted posts and images on Sunday through social media about raising awareness of mental health for many different reasons and while I am glad the day gives people a chance to show their empathy, sympathy, stories and support for people struggling or who have struggled, I think the very important thing to realise is mental health advocacy should be an all year round situation. I think at this point, we all know about how important mental health is. We all know we need to support those around us and we need to reach out when we ourselves are struggling… so why doesn’t it happen enough?
As I said, I have no issues with awareness days but it feels more and more like they’re used as an easy way to post a status and like a few comments for a day on social media to pledge your allegiance to the cause in question but then forget about it for another year once it’s all done. I saw certain businesses posting inspiring and emotional graphics about caring for each other but in reality those businesses have had serious issues with inclusivity, racism and ableism. How can you advocate for mental health yet actively contribute to someone’s suffering? I saw people posting about #BeKind and not knowing what others are going through, yet those same people are quick to judge, argue and bully strangers over the internet.
I have experienced unkind comments and friendship loss in my life because of becoming a wheelchair user and how chronic illness changed me as a person, it really hurt my own mental health. I hope, after experiencing the absolute stinking bog of a year that has been 2020, people will not only just post once a year about the importance of mental health and supporting each other but actually continue with those actions and beliefs through the rest of this year, into next year and beyond.
Love and well wishes to all.