Daria Zamă/ Monica Mihu
Mental illnesses are different disorders or disturbances that are characterized by impairment of an individual’s thoughts, emotions or social functioning and mood disorders. Bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism, borderline personality disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder are just a few of the mental illnesses that a person can have and they occur no matter what age, race or religion someone has. And, sadly, they are not always noticeable or traceable from early stages. Moreover, we, as humans, are so caught up with our own lives and the things that affect us (and mostly us) that we do not truly see what is happening around us.
Everyday we pass by tens of people and we never truly think of what they are dealing with. But have we ever thought that while we are sitting and waiting for the bus the person next to us is suffering from depression and has tried to commit suicide several times already? Or that at a course, one of our colleagues is not able to concentrate because they have schizophrenia and the voices in their head make it impossible for them to concentrate? Rarely, if not at all, these types of questions pop into our heads.
People are so fast into judging someone and assuming they are in a certain way or behaving in a specific manner because of the wrong reasons (such as immature or mean behavior, attention seeking or the desire to insult or hurt people on purpose) that they forget that sometimes problems have a deeper and complex root. People should try to take mental illnesses more seriously and help the persons who are suffering. And this can be done in easier ways than one might think.
First of all, we have to acknowledge that these disorders are real and we must not mistake them for something else. Searching some information about them and understanding how they manifest is actually a big step towards helping.
Secondly, we should not treat people with mental illness as if they have contagious diseases and that they should be avoided. No matter their state of mind, they too have emotions and understand, at different levels, what is happening around them. It is not like they wanted to be like this. It is just that their brain functions differently. By talking to them, integrating them in conversations or activities and acting as if they are not psychos, we actually contribute to their treatment. And maybe even encourage them to better confront their fears and problems instead of finding solutions in methods of taking their lives.
So, the next time we joke around with someone by saying “Stop arranging stuff as if you have OCD”, we should think twice of what we are actually saying. You cannot know what is going in that person’s mind. Let’s try to not aggravate someone’s mood just because we are ignorant.
*For a better understanding of how it is to have a mental illness, here are some links with pieces of art from people suffering of such disorders and the stories behind them: