Ricky Nixon, disgraced (yeah, I do hate the word as it is thrown around like a turkey in an Ingham’s chicken processing plant) player agent and current no-hoper pleaded guilty to the assault of his former fiance to avoid a protracted court case but still got away without jail time. After the case, Nixon issued a statement claiming that he was working hard on altering his fragile mental health and becoming a better person. Words like these have become extremely weak due to their overuse. It is all well and good to claim that we are attempting to become a better person, it is better to put in a painstaking effort to redeem ourselves. Of course Nixon may be exhausting all options but I personally doubt it judging on his ridiculous ‘Chicken Train’ antics which would be funny if it weren’t so sad.
However, I am not here to waste my time writing about a bloke that I do not know and do not care for. I am writing about how in an increasingly hectic existence we have become weaker in the most important part of our anatomy than ever before and our ignorance to the matter is just as worrying. Physically, we are stronger, better equipped to live long lives and stay healthy until an older age whether we like it or not. Mentally, the issues are far more pressing. Mental illness in the youth of the world is a trend that is not easy to combat. Anxiety and depression is not just an illness for the ageing and it is probably more troubling when it does affect the youth. It is debilitating and corrosive, a destructive force that can harm and even end lives with its harrowing ways. And the treatment? Attempting to control it because you cannot stop the thoughts in your head.
The difference between physical illnesses and those that affect our mental capacity is of an aesthetic nature. We see someone who is dying from cancer and their decaying bodies but unless you look closely at someone you won’t be able to see a person who is suffering from a mental illness. Within one who suffers from depression or anxiety is a series of shock waves, a compounding thunder cloud that is extremely hard to stop until the wave of panic or deep depression has passed. Sometimes that is suddenly, within five minutes of the first outbreak of the sweats or shakes, on other occasions it lasts for days.
How can you deal with an illness that comes and goes as it pleases? Well, you can attempt to rid yourselves of the vices that can debilitate and damage your existence. Caffeine, alcohol, illicit substances, panic, stress, work and even more generally, people. On first appearances, that can appear like an achievable task. Give up those three coffees that you have which speed up your heart rate and ultimately produce a come down effect. Moderate use of alcohol instead of twelve beers on a Friday night with your mates. No dirty pingers at Revolver after those twelve beers. But then, ridding yourself of stress, work and the people around you? You slowly see that removing the layers of life can leave you gutted of all human experience. You can stay on the couch all night and watch television series after television series with a box of Cadbury Favourites and become a dull, lifeless person who may still suffer from that endless discomfort of depression or anxiety.
Modern society has made many inroads in the field of mental illness but it is still not taken seriously enough to become a more inclusive and understanding one. Mental illness is still viewed by some as a weak excuse for our failings, a disease for the drug addicts, alcoholics and no-hopers of our society, a cop out. Sure, there are people who exaggerate their own illness to avoid copping the full brunt of responsibility, ala Ricky Nixon who may or may not suffer from such an illness, and there are those who do not attempt to diagnose and slip into a deeper, unassailable depression that becomes harder and harder to stem. And yet, as I look at slogans that are tossed around social media that do address the issue, I am still surprised at how little people understand about them. One of them is
Depression is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign that you have been trying to be strong for too long.
Sure. There are instances where people keep their secret from others. That dirty secret that they fear, and rightfully so, that people will view them as a hypochondriac, a whinger or a nuisance if they start coming clean about how damaging this illness has been to their own life. However, depression doesn’t just end when you involve a psychiatrist, a friend, family, a random stranger. It will help. It allows you to confide in a trained professional or a caring well wisher but that is only a percentage of the battle. The other part of the battle is learning to overcome your own mind, to heal your own life whilst your brain and nervous system still pushes the buttons that leave you petrified and stunt your personal growth. Our minds are easily the strongest part of our body no matter how much bodybuilders flex their muscles or jacked up kids wave their cocks around. Some people can snort three thousand lines a year and not be affected mentally. Others may have one bad experience and become subjected to a life where they have to deal with anxiety, panic attacks and even more serious illnesses such as depression or schizophrenia.
I am one of those people who suffered because of one bad experience with a drug. And I’m fine with it. I’ve accepted that for the rest of my life I will have to deal with anxiety and learn to live a life that may be plagued by minor attacks, shaky nerves and a society that doesn’t understand what we go through. I’m lucky though. I can still drink moderately without being affected, I’m weaning myself off caffeine and I don’t have any desire to touch drugs. However, I still have to endure some long nights of restless sleep and darkness overshadowing my attempt for a peaceful sleep. I feel tremors of panic occasionally and I have to battle my mind when the attacks are beckoning. Despite this, I am a predominately fulfilled and happy person. I have adjusted my life to the point where I am usually in a state of equilibrium. It hasn’t been easy and I still rue the day I sacrificed part of my well being but the old cliche of learning hard lessons young is at the forefront of my own mind.
For others, these illnesses are not nearly as kind. They can kill. They are malicious and they do not disciminate. Alcohol and drug abuse are sneaking into the lives of the kids of Australia at a younger age. An age when our minds are still developing and allowing us to become more mature and able minded people. To threaten their very development is to threaten our own society. This is not to say that I have become a prude in my wiser and more circumspect mind. I still on occasion (or far too frequently) drink heavily when I am out and I understand the pull of recreational drugs. But our mental health must come first when considering week long benders, frequent drug abuse and overt recklessness particularly at a young age. That is where the conversation starts. Why do some many kids turn to gouging on drugs without considering the damage they are doing to their minds in the short term and long term? Campaigns have leaked into our vernacular informing us of the potential dangers of such actions and yet we remain tortured by violence, assaults and suicide that can generally be linked back to a substance or a liquid.
All is not lost in our fight against mental illness. More initiatives are opening as we speak in order to combat the hidden demons that affect so many of the young and old minds in society. I used the Ricky Nixon example as a segue-way into exploring the issue. Nixon presents an interesting case study into one of the following two.
1) How mental illness is used as an excuse in serious crimes.
2) How we can present ourselves as physically strong yet be so mentally insecure, even weak.
To be healthy is to be strong, to be well balanced and to be able to answer for ourselves in a competent way. The only way we can achieve all three of these important qualities is to start with our own mental health by spending time on improving our mindset and therefore improving our lives. In addressing serious mental health issues, we will also be addressing financial equality, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual and physical assault reductions and the state of our society as these are all extremely important aspects in understanding, reducing and improving the general mental health of an entire community.