For many years I’ve always loved reading, when I first started my undergraduate degree, I developed a fascination with learning and during this period I started reading inspirational biographies, self-help literature, history books and travel books. Since I’ve been on my sober journey, I have rediscovered my passion for reading. In the past few weeks, I’ve started discovering my thirst for knowledge in particular around mental illness and alcoholism.
I know as part of my journey mental illness has certainly played a big part in my alcoholism and addiction issues. After a battle with anxiety and depression I had a suicide attempt, and over the past few years there are two people that I have known well that have lost their lives to suicide, people who I would have least expected to have ‘mental health’ issues.
I recently stumbled across a body of research that has truly fascinated me, it’s the productivity commissions‘ draft Mental Health Report. This report really is an amazing read, and it turns out that 20-25% of all people aged between 20-55 are suffering a mental illness and 5-10% of the population are suffering from a substance abuse disorder. (refer below chart).
When I read through these statistics I was blown away that so many people in the population are suffering from a mental health issue and a substance abuse problem. Whilst I haven’t yet verified the research methodology that came up with these statistics, I am fascinated that such a large cohort of society is suffering in the exact same way that I am.
The irony of this all is that I have felt so alone during my issues with anxiety, depression and alcoholism yet there are so many people suffering in the exact same way that I am. How could I not know this? How come I felt so alone? I still am perplexed by the societal stigma associated with these issues, if we had cancer, broke a bone, had an auto-immune condition we would openly share these conditions with family, friends and work colleagues. Yet, if we suffer from a mental health issue, we suffer in silence.
I don’t know what the answer to these problems is, but I am certainly keen to see more about what the government and the productivity commission recommends because even as someone who has and who does suffer from these issues, I don’t have the answers to what would help me (yet)!