Most records about the past prior to the 1930’s are public (and even more recent ones sometimes). But that doesn’t mean they are not hidden. Hidden from dinner table conversations, hidden from important intergenerational health discussions and hidden by what I think is misplaced shame. In my experience, hidden by boring beige people on a power trip. (Did I just say that? Whoops, I forgot to mention I am not one of those people who thinks that I should be entirely nice about people consciously still stigmatising meaningful mental health discussions in 2021).
Sweeping the past under the carpet just means we all trip on the lumps we can’t see and get bloody noses when some politician decides to bring back an old destructive social policy with a new name. In the cult of personality that has become Australian politics, a catchy slogan on repackaged policy disaster is a valuable thing.
Exploring how I first came across my ancestor John Brady’s death in 1888 and his erasure from history. Was this mental health stigma in action? Do we as a culture just erase uncomfortable mental health history?