When you see someone with a cast on, you know they’re injured. But when someone is suffering from mental illness (and one in five Americans do), it’s not always so easy to tell. At a time when it’s easier to filter and crop your life on social media to look fine and dandy, you can seem A-OK, even as you’re seriously struggling.
That’s why we love writer Anna Spargo-Ryan’s refreshingly real Facebook post. She puts two selfies side-by-side—one where she’s clearly been crying and another where she’s smiling—with the caption: “These photos of me were taken three days apart. In the first one, I have a mental illness. And in the second one, I have a mental illness.” The post was a reaction to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, which claims to show how to spot employees who are “faking” mental illness to leave work.The article’s author James Adonis has since apologized, but Spargo-Ryan’s message highlights the fact that we still have a long way to go to help put an end to all of the myths and misconceptions about mental illness.
Check out her full post below.
These photos of me were taken three days apart. In the first one, I have a mental illness. And in the second one, I have a mental illness.
The Sydney Morning Herald today published an article by James Adonis about how employers can identify people who are “faking” mental illness to get out of work.
One of the recommendations from this absolute dropkick of a human was to “issue a warning to those you suspect are faking it.”
Part of what makes mental illness so hard to identify in at-risk people is the constant reinforcement that we’re “imagining it” or that we’re “just sad” or that we “have to want to get better.” It’s an ethereal illness, existing only because we can’t be bothered to be well, or because we’ve talked ourselves into it, or because we didn’t try hard enough, or because we are faking it.
Garbage “people-management thinkers” who choose to perpetuate the myth that mental illness is probably a fakery do so to broad societal detriment. Good people have mental illnesses. We need them to feel supported and empowered in their places, whether that’s work or home or school or somewhere else. Not that someone is waiting to “catch them out.” Not that their illness is not legitimate. Not that the time they take away from work to seek treatment is bogus.
Both of these photos are mental illness. I hope this helps you to spot the fakers.