The other day I bought a new car. It was a lovely car, but it had a design fault, quite a serious one. Whilst driving along a straight piece of newly-tarmaced road one day, the brakes failed, causing a nasty accident (no onlookers were hurt).
I took the car to a mechanic who confirmed that the brakes were faulty. However, In the weeks following the accident I had to have a series of conversations with the police, safety experts and insurance specialists who were investigating the accident.
The conversations could be summarised like this:
Official: So madam, what do you think caused the accident?
Me: The brakes failed. I have a comprehensive statement from a senior mechanic, confirming that brake failure was the cause.
Official: Yes, but let’s look into this in more detail. Was there perhaps a pothole in the road?
Me: No. The road was newly tarmaced, and in any case, it was the brakes that failed.
Official: I see there are large trees in the area. Leaf build up from overhanging branches can be an attributing factor for car accidents.
Me: It’s the middle of summer, there is no leaf drop. And I think I mentioned, it was the brak-
Official: (interrupting) It’s currently Ramandan. Fatigue caused by fasting can cause one to lose concentration on the roads…
Me: I’m an atheist. And so is my husband, who was driving the car at the time of the accident.
Official: And how is your relationship with your husband?
Me: IT WAS THE F**KING BRAKES
This is what it’s like trying to explain to health professionals that your mental illness has a biological, rather than a psycho-social, cause.
For the record, I have a dual diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, which is mainly considered a physical/biological illness, and Borderline Personality Disorder, which is frequently considered to be caused by, and influenced by potholes ooops I mean environmental or social factors. In my experience there is a massive reluctance on the part of the NHS mental healthcare side to accept that sometimes mental illness isn’t attributable to social factors, and is just caused by my brain’s fucked up chemistry.
- This website is helpful if you want to know more
No doubt others will have different experiences.