The third and final episode of ‘Don’t Call Me Crazy’ tackles something that I found noticeably lacking from the series so far:
I was expecting to see some boys last episode and was honestly a little put off when they didn’t appear- but never fear, the men are here!
I was glad that they did tackle the issue of males and mental illness and also kind of explained why they hadn’t even mentioned them sooner.
The basic fact is that there are not as many male inpatients as female ones- the programme explains this by saying that men are more likely to firstly bottle up their problems and secondly reach a point where they cannot be helped- because women deal with problems by talking it means that the people around them can pick up on the warning signs and get them help- men don’t generally do that.
One patient, George, put it best when he said that he just didn’t know there was any other option- depression and mental illness feel like they can only have one outcome, and that outcome is the suicide of the sufferer.
On a personal level I completely empathise with this- I know that as my depression plodded on and on and my self harm escalated beyond what I could have ever foreseen I found myself only able to see a future full of my own death, it was just inevitable for me- something that’s terrifying in retrospect.
This outlook could also help explain why successful suicide attempts are much higher in men- more men that women die by suicide, although women are three times more likely to attempt. What this says about gender differences and mental health I don’t know- I’ll leave it up to you to speculate.
Another issue that this programme tackles is the big one- violence, voices and mental health.
It’s the ultimate stereotype- the mentally ill are violent.
Okay, so maybe some of us are- but wouldn’t you be if you had twenty or thirty or even forty voices screaming and whispering at you all day and night, filling your head with all sorts of horrible, paranoid crap- to be honest I think that if you take that into account you’ll find that we’re a lot less violent that you’d expect.
I’m really glad that the series actually tackled this and didn’t just stick to showing depression and eating disorders- both illnesses that are easier for the general public to deal with.
I’m also glad that they dealt with the impact hat mental illness can have in the long term and how it can affect the future, especially for young people. It’s hard to explain to someone what it’s like to have to give up your dream or even put it on hold because of you mental health. As an actress I can completely empathise with this- I’m in a very stressful profession and I have to put my health first. This means having to make horrible decisions all the time, when you have a mental health problem it can feel incredibly restricting. You’re constantly having to assess what you can and can’t do and because it’s not a physical problem it’s hard to know your limits.
The final thing that I want to talk about is the idea of the unit becoming a ‘safety blanket’ and anxiety around discharge. For someone with a mental health problem, especially a young person, the idea of having to go back into a world that is not only difficult but may judge them is a frightening one. Another factor that a lot of people don’t get is the worry about having to explain where they’ve been for the last few weeks/months. It’s no wonder that the unit can become like a safety blanket, protecting them from the worst aspects of the outside world and the things that triggered their illness in the first place.
Well, that concludes our three week expedition through the annals of ‘Don’t Call Me Crazy’ hope you enjoyed my insights and pop back again soon for my thoughts on the up-coming programmes in BBC3’s ‘Mad World’ season.