I was reading Kristin Tennant’s post about depression the other day. It’s really less a post about depression as it is a post about sharing what you’re ashamed of, and it’s quite good. It reminded me of a similar post I wrote last week about admitting that you suck at something (as well as one I did last year about working my crazy out). It also called to mind a post I read a few weeks ago from Anne Jackson about the stigma of bipolar disorder.
All of these ponderings about mental health got me thinking about the way we talk about mental health. When you look at the conversations and stories out there on the social web about physical health, you see people talking about managing a specific physical ailment, but you also see many people talking about living a lifestyle that promotes physical fitness.
What I don’t see as much in conversations and stories about mental health, are stories about living a lifestyle committed to mental wellness. I see stories about stigmas, and medications, and care plans. It’s almost as if, when it comes to our mental health, we’re all a bunch of septuagenarians, complaining about our various ailments and medications and doctors.
I would love to see a shift in the way we talk about mental health, in the real world and online. Instead of talking about how sick you are, to talk about how functional you are. What if we charted our progress in mental and emotional wellness the same way some people chart physical wellness goals and progress?
Because honestly, some of the most creative, productive people I know have some form of mental illness: depression, bipolar, addictions or anxiety. Some of these people are more functional than most people whose (unaddressed) dysfunctions aren’t at DSM-IV diagnosable levels, because they’ve made taking care of their mental health a priority.
What if we promoted a culture of mental wellness online? What would that look like?