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Mental Health and the Invisible Bum Leg

One of the big problems with mental health is that any issues aren’t always apparent. If one has a bum leg, it can be noticeable. Not always, of course. People manoeuvre and function just fine with a bad leg. Until a time pops up and they’re having issues, but others can tell it’s because of the bum leg.

Others can look and assess the situation. The person is being slowed down by that damn leg that’s acting up. It’s acceptable. People have an idea how to work with that. They can easily relate to the problem or they can see that not making the person run will ease the situation.

Mental health isn’t so easily noticeable, even when it acts up, but only in the sense that others have trouble really assessing the situation. They can tell something is slowing someone down or hindering someone’s ability to engage, but it’s not easy to say, “oh, it’s a bum brain.”

It’s also hard to bring up that one has a bum brain. There’s a lot attached to mental illness. It’s difficult to bring it up because reactions aren’t consistent yet. A bum leg, sure. People are sympathetic. They know they can help. They can see there’s an issue. Lots of “if you have a problem, just let me know and we can do things so it’s not so much strain on your leg.”

Bum brain can bring up questions about self-danger, how severe it is, has one tried this, or why it’s being brought up because what is one supposed to do about it. Some times it feels like bringing it up is like trying to grab a spotlight. In reality, all that’s wanted is the same treatment as the bum leg.

Care when needed. Assistance if required. Acceptance that it’s real and the person personally dealing with it really is the person who best understands it. Understanding that the issue means something easy for everyone else might be a bit harder. And most importantly, that it doesn’t necessarily mean a person can’t do something. Perhaps a bum leg means playing skip rope isn’t likely, but maybe let the person be one of the people twirling the ropes, maybe realize that they’re willing to try to figure out a way.


With my mental health, I know I’ll need some mental assurances. I need evidence that people don’t like me out of obligation. (Messed up, I know). It’s hard to explain that. It’s hard to talk about mental illness without feeling like I’m screaming about my bum leg. At least when I want to talk about it to say what I need. I can feel needy.

It’s also hard because, unlike a bum leg, it feels like it’s harder to understand. Lots of people have hurt their legs with strains or sprains or even breaks so it seems easy to understand a leg that won’t heal. They can at least relate.

With a bum brain, there are so many different variations which means less people may have experience anything similar to all of them that it’s understandably harder to relate to. How many people have a voice/thought that suggests any kind gesture isn’t really meant? How many know what it feels like to be numb? How many understand how terrifying goals are because failing means that voice, the one that goes on and on about how terrible people think you are, might be right? Because once it’s right about one thing, it’s going to be so much harder to fight it?

How many people truly know how hard it is to live with a bum brain?

Every day filled with battles, not even to win ground, just not to lose any.


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