Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Free Speech

Last night, BBC3 Free Speech was aired from a mental health hospital in London. I was a little late to the party, so had to watch it on iPlayer, but the audience used for the debate were 100 young people with experience of mental illness.

Firstly, I applaud the BBC for doing this! It was refreshing to see an audience made up of what you would describe as 'normal' people. Nobody looked ill and everyone who spoke, gave interesting, intellectual and thought provoking comments - I really hope that this alone has managed to open people's eyes to how mental illness is invisible and it really can happen to anyone.

Some of the topics covered were also very thought provoking, starting with 'Can you ever like your mental illness?'. This question is something I've never actually thought about so I was quite interested in the answers which were given. For me, I believe Anorexia can be both your best friend and your worst enemy. At the worst phase, you lose all of your friends and family because you isolate them, leaving you with only your mental illness for comfort. I guess at this point, you actually learnt to like your illness? However, in retrospect, I'm not sure it was me actually liking my illness.. more that I was so consumed by it all that I had no idea what I really liked, therefore proving that an illness is also your worst enemy. From the present day perspective, yes I like that I was so ill. I would not be the person I am now without going through what I have experienced. Despite not wishing it on my own worst enemy, I would not change it all for anything.

Another comment that I was extremely fond of, was that mental illnesses should be treated in just the same way as physical illnesses. We do not choose to get depression, anxiety or an eating disorder, just like we do not choose to break a leg or fall ill with cancer or diabetes. Controversially, I (we) believe I do have the choice as to whether we recover or not, which is perhaps dissimilar to a cancer patient. I do think that as soon as people starting realising that mental illnesses are illnesses and not choices, the stigma will reduce.

Hopefully, the BBC have now got the snowball rolling and other programmes tackle topics like these in a similar way. Obviously, I know I find it interesting but maybe people who are less aware will learn something and there opinions will change.


Lucy said...

It was refreshing to have a programme that breaks social norms. The comparison that you don't to choose to have an illness is very true hopefully in sharing these programmes people will grow a greater understanding Lucy x

Josie said...

That sounds like a really interesting programme! I think mental illness probably doesn't go away completely but I think with the right help and support people can get a lot better, hopefully programmes like this will help with that! x

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