The Problem with Being Articulate

Ever since childhood there is a problem I have encountered when dealing with the medical profession regarding my mental health. That is that I’ve been too articulate. Recently I have been discovering this is a problem a lot of people have. Even as recently as yesterday I have discovered people who have struggled with this issue.

With any other medical problem being able to articulate what is wrong, how you are feeling and so on would be considered a positive, and helpful. But with mental health many professionals struggle to grasp the reality of how serious your situation is, as if you can’t possibly be suffering as much as you say you are if you can tell them.

But since when were the ability to speak and verbalise your emotions the same as feeling your emotions and struggling with an illness you’ve been diagnosed with. Just because I can say I feel like x and I’m experiencing y doesn’t mean I’m suffering any less than someone who struggles to verbalise this. It just means I am able to verbalise it.

Who knows why some people can articulate themselves when some people can’t, why can some people paint and draw when some people can’t? (I can’t by the way), or sing, or dance, or write, or ride a bike? You get my drift? Everyone is capable of different things you would think those who work in mental health would understand this.

A few years ago, I was told by the team who were supposed to be caring for me at the time when we chased why I hadn’t heard anything for several months that they were very sorry they had forgotten about me. It was that experience that taught me to nag and push. I had been too polite and assumed they would get in touch and when they were ready to see me, instead I had dropped off of the radar completely. Probably because they didn’t see me as a great problem, the reality was that during those months I had been admitted to A&E three times!

I was recently told by my latest Psychiatrist that one of the reasons I’ve had such disjointed care over the 26 years I’ve been in the mental health system is that I’m too articulate and some Drs see that as a strength. Luckily she understood the difference and because I requested additional support arranged for me to have a care co-ordinator which has been a god-send, and he also appears to understand that just because I can articulate myself doesn’t mean I’m not suffering. He has recognised it can be a strength in some areas but not in terms of my treatment and recovery.

This is also a drawback with people in general, when speaking with people they assume you won’t be able to speak, or will be stupid because you have a mental health condition. When you are able to hold a conversation it confuses them and they assume you are well and there is nothing wrong with you. Then they assume you should be back in work, and the accusations that you are a skiver start.

What they don’t see is that it took you an hour to stop crying and get out of bed, half an hour to open the front door that morning because you were so afraid of leaving the house, that there is a buzzing and voices in your head telling you horrible things that are going to happen constantly, that you see things. That your mood swings multiple times a day meaning you can be OK, then hypomanic almost manic, then depressed all in the space of an hour. And this repeats through the day.

They don’t see the meds, all the meds you have to take to keep you going, that you have to fight to stop yourself taking your life every single day. Many don’t see the scars, even the scars in plain sight get overlooked, and they certainly don’t see the emotional scars. And they don’t see how we feel because one thing most of us are experts at is covering up how we feel in front of other people.

So, to those who don’t live with mental health problems, don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Just because the person you are talking to can hold a conversation, may be smiling, laughing etc doesn’t mean they aren’t sick. A mental illness doesn’t always inhibit the ability to converse and articulate intelligently.

For those with mental health problems, keep fighting, we are all different, none of us should be held back, forgotten, or regarded too intelligent for treatment or help just because we can articulate our illness to help our doctors.

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