My sister P and I were sitting in a McDonalds in central Amsterdam, chowing down to whet herbally induced appetites, with Kyle and Danny the American backpackers, and playing ‘would you rather?’ Would you rather, we asked ourselves and each other, mouths full of noms:
‘Have a gang of ninjas to do your bidding, or a t-rex?’ (t-rex)
‘Be plain and clever or beautiful and stupid?’ (plain and clever)
‘Give up oral sex or cheese?’ (cheese, even when I was as stoned as I was that day!)
This conversation occurred to me the other day when I was thinking about mental health. ‘Would you rather tell people you were a smoker or had a mental illness?’
Yes. I thought so. (Smoker)
I don’t know if it was the town I grew up in, the group of people I socialised with at the time, or the fact that, perhaps, teenagers are just awful, but when word got out when I was 17 that I had been prescribed my first ever anti-depressants, the local boys referred to me as Prozac woman. (I preferred titanic tits from form 2). Not very sensitive!
Many years later, despite the public health initiatives, despite the raised awareness, despite the RUOK and the workplace health awareness, and the John Kirwan book – I don’t think I’m the only one who doesn’t like saying they are not OK. It’s just like a broken leg they say. Nothing to be ashamed of they say. Well, no, until it’s you or someone you love. And most of the time it’s easier to hide than your own personal t-rex.