Read ‘Men-tal Ill-ness’ NOT ‘Cra-zy’ Pleads Sumona Chetia

J.K Rowling, Mike Tyson, Billy Joel, Emma Thompson, Michael Phelps, Elton John, Drew Barrymore and the list goes on. Now, what do these names have one thing in common? Apart from being insanely talented in their respective fields and renowned worldwide, these names are heroic survivors of MENTAL ILLNESS.

A social stigma, a shameful taboo and last but not the least the elephant in the room-Mental illness has gripped our society with false notions and ambiguous conclusions. For every illogical approach, we lose a mentally ill individual who requires nothing but help.

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Just like a human heart falls sick, just like a human heart blackens, just like a human limb breaks off in a similar manner a human head can malfunction too.

Depressions, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, personality disorder, eating disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are some common forms of mental illness. Each of these occurs due to valid reasons. But we refer these as the unspeakable.

People fear what they don’t understand! Take for example the concept of aliens. Human beings are nincompoops when it comes to aliens. Extraterrestrials are dangerous. They abduct humans and destroy the earth. At least this is what we have learned watching all kind of alien sci-fi movies until the intellectual movie-The Arrival.

This particular movie threw new light on the subject of aliens demolishing all other pre-conceived notions. Now we can imagine aliens as creatures who can offer us the knowledge to save the planet earth. Similarly, the topic of mental illness is just a cluster of what ifs!

What if she is just an attention seeker?

What if he is just sad for no reason?

However, being sad for no reason is a big reason!

Cancer is heartbreaking but being depressed is scowling? Dieting is inspirational but eating disorderly is humorous? Can a blind man be coerced to see? Then why scoff at a mentally ill person to snap out of his disease at the flick of a finger? Why change the tone and whisper “bipolar” or “depression” while talking about someone with a mental illness?

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Yes, mental illnesses are not pretty, they are messy. They are also not a DIY project. So let’s just put our perceptions and preconceived ideas aside and listen to the stories of those suffering because “I’M NOT OKAY-I’VE BEEN STRUGGLING” is the most painful and brutal truth for someone to utter.

Being a victim of mental illness is not a choice. But recovery is! We as onlookers need to study and understand the gravity of mental health problems. Traumatic childhood episodes, loveless life, victims of bullying, substance abuse, loneliness, career concerns, and physical disabilities are a few of the reasons to drive a person into a pit of sadness.

These issues affect an individual at an accelerated speed, breaking him/her down and in the end, that person wraps him/her up into a bubble of uncertainties and misery. Bursting his/her way out of that bubble all alone seems next to impossible so with much courage the person decides to approach people (near and dear ones). Even after getting to know everything if those people jump right into bursting that sad bubble with criticism and ignorance then there will be nothing left for that individual to look up to. Thus, suicide occurs!

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People who kill themselves are not cowards. They are a bunch of banished and misunderstood mentally ill patients. They were asked to just “power through it” or “just shake it off”.

Contrary to this, if people are willing to lend their ears and open their hearts to such sad people’s ordeal things can definitely take a positive turn. They will see a ray of hope amidst all darkness. The medical condition can be further taken care of by a psychiatrist (don’t frown). Consulting with a psychiatrist doesn’t mean he/she is crazy. Therapy combined with medication is the ultimate treatment of choice for mental illness. A sick heart needs a cardiologist. Similarly, a sad brain needs a psychiatrist.

Enough with the slander thoughts regarding mental illness. Speak up if you are a victim. Speak for others if they are a victim. Offer people with mental illness the respect and kindness they deserve.

I have lost dear ones to mental illness. What if I am next?  What if you are next? No one knows. That’s why I vow to create a feasible environment for the ones who fear and are shy of being sad in a different way. I will be empathetic. I will be compassionate. Will you do the same the next time someone sad approaches you?

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