Ask somebody what mental illness looks like, and many paint a rather confined picture, with each and every person who suffers being painted in the same way, with the same face sticking to all the stereotypical but false assumptions. They may even judge them as being weak.
Yet this is not the case…
Someone may be getting up each day, showering, eating and drinking a normal and healthy amount, getting work done and managing to commute from A to B, without a struggle. At least from ones perspective. Someone may be smiling in all photos, mixing well, and be seeming to achieve well in life. Someone may be telling their family how good things are, feeding them with stories about travel with friends, general success and any other “fun” stories. As it seems, swinging from branch to branch in life.
When in reality they may be lugging along a heavy load aside them, trudging through slowly but steadily- as people avoid to see beyond the casual words coming out of the smiling mouth. Though maybe they do not look- as they just assume that the person is “fine.”
However as soon as somebody slips up, or a flaw becomes exposed, we are all far too fast to judge them….
But here is why you shouldn’t…
~The person who we may call a “loner” for wandering alone all day, may seem antisocial for not engaging in more chit chat. But in reality they may be terrified each time they open their mouths assuming people will automatically judge or laugh behind their backs.
~The person we call “antisocial” for missing out on the meal and lovely gathering, as they chose not to join in with everyone else may feel unable to. Overwelmed by the unknown calorific value of food surrounding them. Or terrified to face up to having to eat out.
~The person who we call lazy for not going out, may already be exhausted. Coping with the day to day monseter inside their minds. Trying to deal with un-dealt for trauma. Putting in all their prevailing efforts, to keep themselves as health as possible, after poison has been spilled into their minds from a traumatically young age.
~The person who we call petty, or ridiculous for constantly seeking reassurance, may have experienced some form of abuse, neglect or may be generally anxious therefore would be very uncertain to whether they can truly relay on those they should be able to trust.
~The person who we call over-dramatic may also be very anxious, or have dealt with or be dealing with trauma therefore their mind was already etching on the last straw, and anything small could be extremely overwhelming. Having to be quiet about their loudest worries weighing down their minds.
~The person who we may dismiss as being an “alcoholic” or “drug addict” and see them in bad light because of this, may be using this as their only coping mechanism. As we all know too much about the health defects, but someone cannot just “stop” if their minds are dependent on it. And the last thing that they need is for people to “judge them” for this.
~The person who we call possibly a perfectionist, geek or workaholic may feel they have no choice but to keep themselves buried in work, as a distraction to what is going on else where. Maybe they feel their self worth depends on wholly on how productive they are, how well they can do in a test or how successful their career is.. Rather than regardiing themselves as equally worthy regardless.
~They person who we call vain may be using their aperient self obsession and over confidence, to mask their true insecurities.
There are many more scenarios, or general stereotypes I could list here, but the sad thing is, is that there are far too many.
And no, most of us may not be able to relate to each and every one of these different senarios. But maybe at some point in our lives, we will find ourselves trapped in one or more of these. Perhaps we know we have friends, or companions who are in one of these situations; or maybe we have some are- who we just don’t know about.
We are all too quick to judge, maybe out of ignorance, or out of anger towards how some deal with their “less valuable” emotions in a different way to how you or I might deal with our own. Yet deep down, we know this isn’t the case. Naturally we aren’t alwaays going to be able to relate to ones situation, or ones way of coping with it. Nonetheless we should take a step back and think.
Maybe this would be more beneficial than what we may think at first. Maybe if we all think to open our minds and ears before uttering out something than may be upsetting, then mabye all of us will be less afraid to come to terms with what is going on inside our heads, and open up more. Without fear of resulting bitterness towards them. So in time, we all have a better picture of how mental health effects one another, containing fewer superficial ideologies in our minds about other people, while not having to keep so hushed up about our own issues, being less afraid that people will base their judgements on previous assumptions.
Furthermore I really do admire all of today’s “Mental health advocates”, where their presence has enabled “a raise in awareness”, whilst has helped many of us realise the importance of looking after our own. And I think this movement has definitly been successful.
It’s fair to say that in the last decade or so, there has definitely been “raised awareness”. Whilst many of us are beginning to realise the importance in taking care of ourselves.
Nonetheless, many of us still feel we aren’t deserving for one reason or another. Maybe part of this is because really, there is still a lack of understanding surrounding this. And while the previous decade hass been one to “raise awareness”, it would be niice if this decade could focus on enabling better understanding.
It will enable more people to feel free to open up, while there will hopefully be a reduction in stigma in society.
And really, although we want to be as helpful as we can be, to let somebody feel understood, sometimes listening and being there for them comes in front of offering a seemingly helpful solution. When this may have been previously tried before opening up, or may not truly be helpful. And nothing is more valuable, than knowing that somebody is here for you and cares, and will listen!