Afraid of the dark

Alice was in her house. She was all alone in the dark. She is usually afraid of the dark. Terrified. But this night she turned the TV on and sat calmly on the sofa reading her engrossing book about travel and tourism. She always wanted to travel but she never had enough money. So, she’s been stuck in the same city for all her life. She is 35 and all these years she’s never travelled outside of her country. She has been to some cities in the same country but never outside. That disappoints her but at least she can read it in the books to see how the cities she’s never been to are expressed. She can imagine. Imagination doesn’t die and maybe some day she will travel.

This night was different. She didn’t feel afraid of the dark. But there were tubelights in her house and the bulb was burning bright. She didn’t want to turn off the light to sleep. The tragedy of living alone without a husband was she had to endure the dark which she didn’t like. But she felt better than other days today. She felt like she could face her fears with darkness. She can drive away the demons.

ALice went to sleep turning the lights off. She didn’t feel scared. She had the best sleep she’s ever had.

Lonely

Suddenly I couldn’t feel anything. I was numb. It was a result of years and years of deprivation. Freedom. Independence. I’ve lost interest in things. Something I used to enjoy a few weeks ago feels dry at the moment. It’s all nothing. Useless. I am in a world which does not exist. I have to meet the expectations of people around me; my own expectation. And they feel too heavy. Too much to do, too much to read, too much to write. I feel the strain. I drink a glass of wine, it doesn’t really have an effect. It’s still too much for me. I dont feel like exercising or going to the gym. I don’t know why. I’m trying to find out why I don’t feel like exercising is a normal routine anymore. I feel bored when I do it in the gym. I feel bored walking in the park all by myself. I want some company. I want someone to be with me. I’m lonely. You can probably see it deep down in my eyes, deep in my soul. I’m lonely. I feel like no one truly cares for me. Everyone who is supposed to care for me either tries to manipulate their own ideals on me or expect me to act in a certain way which is not me. They don’t understand me. I want to be understood. To be loved for who I am. Not for what the society seems fit and for all the expectations they set on me. It’s too much to bear. The same old thing repeating again and again. There is no purpose to life. Just a bullshit.

Social Acceptance and Mental Illness

Sometimes we underestimate the values that the society around us tries to embed within us as individuals. Everything we have grown into is influenced by our surroundings. The ‘rules and regulations’ we need to follow to be classified as a ‘good’ person might have an everlasting impression on how we modify our behaviors to in fact live judiciously – all this I feel strives towards a form of social acceptance.

Our need to be accepted in the society we live in is immeasurable and leaves an indelible mark. Why is this? why do we need to be accepted by our fellow human beings? The answer might seem simple but the process is very complex. Being socially accepted does not mean pleasing others but rather pleasing ourselves and liked for who we are.

Throughout history mental illness has been closely correlated to social acceptance. Many mental illnesses are consequences of our individual social skills. This is why developing a social network is very important but it can be difficult especially if one does not learn the skills required to overcome their lack of social skills.

Having met a few people with mental illness I have come to understand that being socially accepted for who they are is not an easy task. There is a lot of stigma still attached to say bipolar disorder or depression which are not very accurate, and which the society has failed to cure completely. Medications and official consultation does not go very far in curing the cause although symptoms might improve. Some stigmas attached with mental illness are:

  • The individual is “abnormal” and cannot function normally
  • Mental Illness is a disability which cannot be cured
  • Medication is a long term requirement and if stopped the person might become violent
  • Unable to cope with daily routine activities
  • The person cannot be trusted, is lonely and cannot make friends

These are some of the stigmas attached to mental illness which are not accurate. They are also closely related to social acceptance. Society has taught us that if we accept victims of mental illness then we might put ourselves in danger. That people of mental illness will not prove to be long lasting friends and so forth. Such stigma needs to stop.

I have met many people with illnesses where they can function perfectly well even under stress. I had realized that I myself used to have such stigma but have slowly realized and come to accept people for who and what they are, regardless of whether they have a mental disorder.

Acceptance for the way people naturally are is the key here – stigma is surrounded around discrimination, when one fails to see the reality of things and remains ignorant. It is a fact that more than 450 million across the globe suffer from mental illnesses. It is also a fact that many of these people do not receive proper medical or social attention that they need. Many prefer to be ‘under cover’ without disclosing their illness to the public.

If we can just do our bit and support the people who have been unfortunate enough to be affected by mental illness – for instance if we could even make one friend with a mental illness,I feel we would make the world a better place.

Note: This post was originally published on Medium