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When it comes to mental health, there is this strange expectancy that you are either perfectly fine or that everything that could be wrong with you is. You’re either okay, or you have a list of clinical diagnoses and medicines upon medicines that those who are “perfectly fine” dare to say might not be working, or aren’t the best option. There is this notion that you are either at 100% or 0% but like a lot of things, mental health isn’t so simple.

There is this gray area where some of us go unrecognized. There are people who can scoot by the day, only to face their demons in the privacy of their room. Most people are under the impression – and may not even know it – that when you are ill, it will be visible and if it isn’t, then you are fine. But we all know that when the night comes, the sun doesn’t stop existing. When we put our phone in our pocket, it doesn’t disappear into thin air. Similarly, people are not only ill when their illness shows. He is not only depressed when he breaks down; she is not only anxious when in public. We must expect and accept that despite how “fine” someone may look, they may not be “fine” on the inside.

For some reason, we have put a “tolerance meter” on mental health issues. It seems that the only tolerable people are those who can pacify their demons long enough until they’re out of your sight – out of your mind. We don’t mind being there for those whose issues don’t seem as tedious to handle. Those who pass as “just really sad” are okay to hang around because telling them “everything will be okay” for five minutes is easy. But in another case, where his seizures may cause you to take time out of your day to make sure he doesn’t swallow his tongue, he wouldn’t be your ideal crowd. As a race, we have all become cliquish, marginalizing those who aren’t in tip-top shape, constantly challenging those who aren’t quite there, and feeling as though anyone who cannot empathize with the imperfect has a right to give their opinions. Because “ideal” has become synonymous with “standard”.

We have built these conceptions that anyone who claims that they are mentally ill, anyone and everyone who says they struggle with their mental health all fit under one category. The truth is, humans aren’t that simple. Each of us are like different colors: the human eye can only perceive so many but there is an infinite number of them; just because our eyes can’t perceive a color does not mean it’s not real. Just because we can’t interpret or understand someone’s struggle or battle does not make it invalid. It’s a part of life that we may not comprehend every single detail but disregarding that it is there is naïve and unwise.

As people, we must learn to be sensitive to each other and expect that there will always be someone who is different. We must accept that not everyone conforms to whatever preconceived idea you may have floating around your head. Some of us may be comfortable enough to let you know that they struggle with a given mental disorder while someone else may not be as willing. But we cannot go on with the “since they didn’t say or show it, it doesn’t exist” mentality. Not only is it unrealistic, it is dismissive and inconsiderate of the variations of people around you. We cannot live in this idealist and elitist bubble, where we use ourselves as the standard and expect or invite others to work towards living up to it.

Perhaps it’d be easier to live in a universe where things are as black and white as we make them out to be. Unfortunately, this is the timeline where we have tints and shades of reds and blues. While some of us love the way vibrant hues look, we still need to adapt to and acknowledge the entire spectrum.

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