News //

Yes, Please ‘Leave Our Anxiety Alone’

Lauren Pearce thinks Mark Latham should stop talking out of his arse.

Lauren Pearce thinks Mark Latham should stop talking out of his arse.

Mark Latham lives less than ten kilometres from me. He went to school in the area, ran off and made a fool of himself in Canberra for a while, pissed off all of his colleagues, and is settling into a peaceful and prosperous life of attempting to save himself from irrelevancy by writing for the Australian Financial Review.

In November last year, Latham claimed in an article for the Review that women in Sydney’s West don’t have mental illnesses. You see, we’re far too busy looking after our husbands’ children while the gents go off to work in our nation’s fine industrial sector.

Should we tell him, or are we just going to let him spin?

Everyone was fairly happy to chalk that one up to the opinion of an old fart, unsuccessfully trying to delay his spiral into oblivion. However, on Saturday the 7th of March, the Review published an article penned by Mr. Latham, titled ‘Leave our anxiety alone’, where he blames the “left-wingers and Liberal state interventionists”, and oddly enough, Birdman, for the “fad” of anxiety. Mr. Latham even expresses concern for the “8 percent of Australians [who] have been conned into thinking the only way they can deal with anxiety is by popping pills”.

Apart from the fact that it’s odd that someone who once led a left-wing party is complaining about left-wingers, I take issue with Mark’s sentiments. As part of the above-mentioned statistic, I think he should shut the fuck up.

I take solace in the fact that Mr. Latham is making these comments for two reasons. One, he was miffed that Boyhood didn’t win Best Picture and two, he has less than zero experience with anxiety. For the latter, I wish him well. The fewer people suffering from mental health issues, the better. For them.

For those unaware, anxiety is more than a set of worries. It’s a chemical imbalance in the brain which causes a variety of symptoms. These range from tremors and feelings of dread, to panic attacks, insomnia, heart palpitations, the sensation that you are about to die or go insane, hair loss, hallucinations or “voices”, loss of employment, collapse of relationships, agoraphobia (being unable to leave the house or bedroom), and suicide. This is an illness that kills people. Some people who have anxiety need psychological therapy, anti-depressants or muscle relaxants like some people with cancer need chemotherapy: so that they don’t die.

Suicide, often as a result of depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns, is the leading cause of death for people my age. Organisations like beyondblue (which Latham inexplicably picks out from a handful of similar groups to repeatedly lambast in his article) provide funding and awareness campaigns to try and stop people from dying. Latham takes the time to single out their Kids Matter program, which is similarly aimed at making sure young children who are at risk of developing anxiety and depression later in life can access support and, if necessary, treatment.

Am I the only one seeing this? Since when did wanting infants to not have serious mental health issues become a trendy-lefty thing? I’m more fashionable than I thought.

Unfortunately, for every one (well, two) of Latham’s articles that I read, there’s handfuls of people who will tell me that my mental illness would go away if I could just stop worrying.

But, as a pill popper myself, I’m sure my opinion isn’t valid. I’m sure that in Mr. Latham’s eyes I’m just another “headcase-arty-farty-Leftie-trendoid”, one of the Birdmen by whom society has been overtaken. Go back to yelling at the wind, old man. Caw.