Disease of the Mind!
I was talking to a friend and she informed me that her sister wasn’t keeping too well. She didn’t mention the disease or condition and I didn’t bother to take the details. Few days later, I bumped into her in the elevator. I have this strange habit of ‘remembering’ things and situations. I inquired about her sister’s well being. She informed me in a hushed voice, “My sister has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. I haven’t spoken to many people about it. You know there are all kinds of notions attached to it.”
I was not taken aback by this ‘cautionary’advice. I could totally relate to her agony. It is such a pity that ‘mental illness’ is perceived as synonyms to ‘madness’ in our society. Why isn’t it treated like any other physical ailment? Why is so much shame attached to so called diseases of the mind?
It is perhaps easier to deal with physical ailments, which are easily diagnosable under a microscope or a MRI. Atleast there is some evidence. We can prove our illness to the world.
Disease of the mind is perhaps a murky thing…far more capable of revealing personal distress. Thus conveniently quickly swept aside. We only start talking about ‘mental illness’ once something catastrophic such as a suicide takes place.
We don’t want to deal with so called ‘negative’ emotions. We tell our young children to ‘stop crying’. Isn’t crying good? It helps us release all those pent up emotions. Mourning is a ‘ritual’ in many traditional societies.We probably need to look around and imbibe.
It is some sort of chemical imbalance in the brain that is generally held responsible for ‘mental illnesses’. These imbalances can create havoc in our lives. My mother suffers from ‘depression’. I have seen her feeling unhappy… trying to fight with her condition everyday. It isn’t easy. Families and the patients keep suffering in silence. This suffering ‘alone’ could be a very isolating experience. We can’t contest that this world is becoming more and more isolating. Any mental illness to some extent is a reflection of our wider society and our beliefs. We probably need to look around and take cognisance of our ‘social’ environment. Symptoms are a messenger of a deeper problem. Let’s get to the deeper problem….to the bottom.
We perhaps need is a major paradigm shift- there is a need to destigmatize the so-called ‘mental illnesses’. That sounds difficult? Changing attitudes is tough… isn’t it?
Can we send some love and blessings to the sufferers and their families in the mean time? I am sure empathy, love, care, and non-judgmental attitude can go a long way in helping the people with mental illness. Let’s create a better world!
>Written By: Minakshi Dewan
Minakshi Dewan holds a doctoral degree from the Centre for Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She has worked with various NGOs after completing her master’s degree from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. She has authored a picture book for children. She is also an expert blogger with Momspresso.
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