Yes, yes, I know, I know, “unaskable” isn’t a word. This title ought to be something along the lines of “Answers to questions you’re afraid to ask.” But I went with “unaskable.” This post is based on an exchange I had on Facebook with a friend regarding my last post. He began by writing:
“I realize this was probably difficult to write, but for what it’s worth this kind of thing is really helpful when it comes to understanding mental health in a different way…“
and later in his comments said the following:
“Hearing someone tell you exactly what they were thinking during something you’d never feel comfortable asking about is compelling reading.“
I think when I’m writing about my experiences (and I’m sure this is true to some extent for others who write about their mental health struggles) I’m doing so in part to do exactly what my friend is describing: to help people understand a subject that they aren’t comfortable asking about. Sure, it can also be cathartic to work through some of these issues and unburdening myself on the blog is a way for me to make myself feel better about not holding back and keeping secrets that I must expend energy and time to protect; energy and time that simply aren’t worth whatever the trade-off is in being open.
Now I don’t want to discount the very real importance of privacy, especially when it comes to health care and mental health. There are reasons we have laws protecting medical information and there’s a great deal of ongoing concern for many people with mental health issues about having people find out about their condition under inappropriate circumstances. That’s not what I’m talking about. Neither am I talking about impolitely intruding on what’s a very personal journey. There’s a reason why mental health is a sensitive subject.
But just because it’s a topic that ought to be handled with sensitivity doesn’t mean mental health should be taboo. Taboo creates barriers to meaningful dialogue and education. Taboo perpetuates stereotypes about mental health conditions. Taboo prevents people from speaking up and asking for help, which can lead to mental health crises like the one I had. Dialogue and education furthers things such as early intervention, treatment and investment in mental health resources.
So I’m committing here (and hope other mental health bloggers will join me) to answering the “unaskable” questions you may have about mental health and mental illness to the best of my ability. I’m asking that if you have a question on one of these subjects that you think might be uncomfortable or taboo you ask it in good faith in the hope of learning something. For me to talk about things like suicide, self-harm, my issues with alcohol, etc. can be difficult, but I think it’s worth it to break down stigma and generate an informed awareness about these things.
Feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your unaskable questions.