Every year during World Mental Health Day, I would write a blog post or come up with a status that points out the irony of the very day. My post would be sarcastic, witty, and often a mockery of the system.
It served as an amusement park for many of us who have been mocked and ridiculed by the same system and even society for that matter. It wasn’t long back where the atrocities of the system was brought to notice – individuals with mental illness kept naked in an asylum in Bengal or even those who are chained in asylums in Indonesia or even those who are tortured in their own homes and manipulated against their choice in posh institutions. None of us have yet got our rights in place in the eyes of the law, in families, in societies or even your hearts.
It is different when you say you love me and accept me. I am only one in those millions who has made the cover of interviews and magazines. Of course my face is another reason you click on it. Often I’ve had individuals exclaim ‘Oh but she’s good looking’ – the irony being another irony.
But this year I’ve run out of things to be sarcastic about as I’m noticing the entire world going topsy turvy in context to every other issue concerning humanity. It is no more just about a mental health issue in itself. It is about animals being tortured, children being killed, families and relationships going through a toss, friendships being questioned, authorities losing the credibility…A list that isn’t getting smaller. Does this not affect your mental health and daily living?
How does anyone sleep peacefully these days?
I wonder if our entire human race is a mental disorder in itself. Have we lost kindness and empathy towards one another that we need a professional to help us out? I’m not suggesting professionals are not needed or are useless. But my question is a valid one.
Have you become so distanced from those closest to you that you need to pay someone else to listen to your problems? Maybe that’s exactly why there aren’t ‘enough’ mental health professionals in the world because they are busy spending their time on concerns that should otherwise be taken care of by others. Then again the irony of the same is those closest to you are the ones who hurt you the most. And this is why we need professionals to help us come to terms with that.
Wouldn’t it be easier if you could just write a letter to that person and vomit all of how they made you feel or what you wished they could have done or not done? Wouldn’t that be the ideal solution in resolving any conflicts especially matters of the heart?
To me my schizophrenia or experience of any mental discomfort is my heart being broken by someone or the other… (more often family – our loved ones).
So this year I write you all a note instead. I believe that my delusions are so strong that they do have the power to change hearts. You call it a symptom while I call it my superpower.
To the professionals who think I hate your title and profession, I don’t. I dislike the lack of ethics and professional arrogance that comes with it. It is rare that I meet a Dr. who speaks without a patronising tone. Perhaps the reasons I have some faith amongst the thousands of you is because I’ve had one and met a few others with a large hint of ethics and humanity and very little ‘doctor’. If I can have that much faith in you just through the few I’ve met, why is it that all of you can’t have that much humanity in treating all of us as equal beings? You have met more us than we have met of you. Why is it so difficult to be kind to us when you treat us?
To the caregivers and support groups who swing between their political standing and me, you’ve called me all kinds of names in our battle of rights. I’ve been the brickbrat, the loudmouth, the smart one and the one that should not be invited. I and those of us with the given mental illness still go our way out to make our peace with you knowing the cause is about us and directly connected to us. But you still choose the political instead of the individual. We aren’t the ones affected by the label dear parents. You still are. Even as children in our ‘mental’ states of psychosis we recognise you as our caregiver to have stayed in our room or chosen to be admitted under your call, how is it that in your sane comprehending normal state you only recognise the mental illness and not your child, spouse, sibling or parent?
To the others in the large room of Mental health – therapist, healers, mystics, lovers, psychologist, writers, artist, poets, film makers, actors, celebrities, ngos, teachers, social workers, academicians, students, the endless list…why do you think you are ‘helping’ us? Why would you position us as if we are incapables? What is this market you are trapped in? Have you ever met someone with a mental illness telling you ‘I can help you?’ or selling you crystal balls and poetry about how you can live without schizophrenia? Why would you do that then? Did it not occur to you that you are also coming from a place of knowing better about us…just as the other two groups? Why is it so difficult to not romanticise us?
Every time you do that it alienates me. And if you think we are a romantic notion of some strange believe that you have about us then are you not the delusional one and not me?
To all of you… I’ve had a believe that everything takes time. That changing the world takes time. A year ago I still had many individuals call me psycho, or get newer diagnosis by random professionals, personal attacks by other people and I often wondered if I really was the crazy one. I thought it to be very unfair and upsetting that in coming out for Mental Health my mental health was being bullied. I relied on the voices of kind strangers and encouraging friends who kept their support and faith in me. These voices have helped me stay on.
I’ve learnt to trust the good that exist in these voices of real people. I’ve relied and often depended on their voices to pull me back from the conflicts of the social world that can ruin anyone. I’ve got schizophrenia. I’ve learnt to love the world, the people and myself. I’ve learnt to accept things for what they are and knowing I will have my limits. That I can’t force people to change. So why haven’t you? You don’t have schizophrenia. Why have you not learnt to accept those like me for the way we are and the way we will be? Why do you insist and hope in your heart that we return to your attachment of our previous self or normalcy? We’ve not demanded that you try schizophrenia because we know that’s not possible for you.
So why would you want us any other way and not this way? Why can’t schizophrenia or any other mental illness be a certain way a person lives in? Why can’t you first begin to accept that ?
I ask you again…to just be and let be. We just need individuals who have the courage to be kind to one another in making that difference towards someone’s mental health well being. It isn’t rocket science but humans have unfortunately forgotten matters of the heart. They rather spend time exchanging random body fluids instead of listening to someone’s heart beat.
A kid or an animal young sleep better when they hear their mother’s heartbeat or they have a comforting smell of their memory of care. During my constant battles of psychosis when I was devoid of human touch or my pet – the ticking of a clock replaced the heartbeat. Time became my obsession and I would keep counting. They called it a symptom. I stopped learning how to love. I stopped wearing a watch since then in fear of the sound and my counts. It became very lonely for me. I turned to death. They called it a symptom. I call it a reaction.
Are we not the same?
I write you all this note in more faith than before that you’ll likely see mental illness/discomfort the way I see it. Not an illness or a disease, but a reaction towards the lack of love and kindness being expressed.
It isn’t that difficult you know. I’ve got schizophrenia, I’m doing it even if you’ve called me names before. What is stopping you?
– The Schizophrenist