When you look at a person who tells you they have a mental health issue, who do you see in them? Do you see them as a normal, regular person, or do you see them now defined by their illness? Do you now see them walking, talking, eating, sleeping, breathing with that illness?
This is how misconceptions are formed; when you build a person’s image just by listening to what they are telling you, instead of understanding what it’s like to be them.
Are mentally ill people always sad?
When we talk about people with mental illnesses, our first picturization of them usually is that they must be troubled individuals in great pain, living sad lives. While it’s true that mental illnesses sure cause a lot of trouble in a person’s life, it still does not mean that they don’t have their moments of happiness. Labelling people on just one aspect of their lives is not only wrong but also massively ignorant on our parts.
What is ‘communication’?
We keep talking about communicating with people and trying to understand the other person’s life. So, what is communication? Is it just speaking out thoughts to another individual? Is it sharing problems and not expecting a solution? What is it?
Communication, simply, is us trying to really understand a person’s perspective without judging or categorising it as right or wrong, in an attempt to grow out of our predefined moulds. It means leaving out the “I-know-what-they’re-talking-about” mindset.
Is happiness a proof of a mentally healthy person?
Another misconception that needs addressing is that happy people do not have mental health issues. It’s true that happiness does ward off a lot of troubles, but it’s also true that happiness does not make a person immune to mental issues. As a quote goes,
“Depression isn’t always at 3 am. Sometimes it happens at 3 pm, while you’re with friends and you’re halfway through a laugh.”
Happiness and sadness are phases. They are states of our mind that are easily changeable. Whereas, mental illnesses require medical attention, proper therapy and treatment, and can even last a lifetime.
Hence, there’s no comparison or similarity between the two.
Just because a person with mental illness is trying their best to be happy, it does not mean they are over them. It simply means that they are trying to not let their illness define their personality. So the least we can do is not narrow them down to their problems and let them define their own strengths and weaknesses.
We do not get to choose the side with which we deal in a person. It’s not their chirpy, joyous side or their irritated, ill side. It’s their happy AND depressed side; their sad AND anxious side.
We have to learn to accept people as whole instead of filtering them on different traits.
This Dussehra, let’s not only burn the Ravana in the fire but also our stigmas that surround mental health issues. Have a safe festival, everyone.