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You can’t tell how someone feels by just looking at them, or what they share on social media. Our lives can appear perfect to the outside world, even though they aren’t in reality. 

When you hear the word “depressed,” what is the first thing that comes to mind? Most of us would say that depressed people are unhappy, lonely, dislike themselves, and feel terrible for no apparent reason. They are completely right, and everything they say is correct, but I’m always hoping for someone to say that depression is a disease, because that is exactly what it is. It is a disease of unseen wounds that only you can sense, and people only notice your outward changes. In this case, people mask their feelings because we judge their acts or changes too quickly rather than questioning what’s wrong.

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According to the Director-General of the World Health Organization, mental illness is not a personal failure (WHO,2001). If there’s a failure to be identified, it’s about how we’ve dealt with people who have mental disabilities. Treatment is available, but almost two-thirds of people who have a mental disorder do not seek support from mental health specialists. Our society and community will also help those who are physically ill, but not one in four people who are mentally ill (Ginn,2012). Take, for example, how we openly discuss and respond when someone is affected by malaria. But what about anxiety or depression? When is it going to be a thing?

Mental illness affects everyone no matter who you are

People believe that mental illness affects only those on the edges of society, such as the homeless or drug users, and that some of the mental illnesses we are familiar with are influenced by the films we watch. This is the common misconception that all mentally ill people are tied down in straight jackets and locked away in asylums, which feeds the taboo of depression. This, on the contrary, happens to everybody, including celebrities and athletes. It has happened to someone reading this blog, and it could happen to you or someone you meet (Nadia, 2021).

In films, Chris Evans appears to be an all-action American hero, hanging his vibranium shield at Nazi spies or destroying robots, but behind his cask, he has struggled with anxiety and depression. As Captain America, he may not be afraid of much. Actor Chris Evans, like himself, has struggled with depression as a result of his crippling anxiety. This is an indication that even the biggest movie stars need mental health assistance. Serena Gomez is a well-known singer with a cheerful demeanour. Because of her low self-esteem and loneliness, she suffers from anxiety and panic attacks. Demi Lovato, for example, battled depression as a result of bullying and childhood abuse. This demonstrates how the people we consider to be the happiest because they have all can still be living in the dark. They are compelled to smile amid their personal challenges and forget about themselves while focusing on their public image.

People have to mask their mental illness because of society

Logo by silence the shame organization

Society is also grappling with the idea that depression is a disorder, not a choice. People with depression will often attempt to fool us into thinking they are happy, putting on a massive, heavy mask for the duration of their lives so that no one notices their mental health is in shambles(Caudle, 2018). All of this is the fear of admitting and speaking out about your mental health to people who don’t get it. According to World Health Organisation (Kolappa, 2013), many people mistakenly assume that people who have mental illness are aggressive and threatening, when in fact, they are more likely to be attacked or injure themselves than to harm others. For fear of being shamed or misunderstood by society, people conceal their mental illness and suffer in silence.

Society should not force people to reject their disease simply because they are unaware of it. It is your well-being that is at stake, and you are the one who is suffering. Let’s assume your leg is broken and you are in excruciating pain. It hurts so badly that you are on the verge of passing out. In this case, you would immediately rush to the hospital but don’t seek treatment when you are mentally disrupted. So, why would you want to live with a wounded soul if you can’t walk on your broken leg? It’s past time for us to understand the important distinction between physical and mental health since there is no life without mental health.

“Why are we so quick to confess that we can only heal our bodies but not our souls? Why do we consider mental illness to be a negative thing, something to be ashamed of?”

Many of us know someone who had a severe mental illness at some stage in their lives. Given their commonality, these types of events are often viewed as rare and even shameful.

Mental health is a taboo topic, but statistics show that one out of every seven people (11-18%) in the world suffers from one or more mental or substance-abusing disorders. In 2017, nearly one billion people around the world were affected by one. And, despite the fact that depression is the leading cause of suicide, it doesn’t get much attention.

What happens when it is left untreated?

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According to the World Health Organization, approximately 800,000 people commit suicide each year, or once every 40 seconds (WHO, 2019). Each suicide attempt is expected to result in 25 attempts. More than 90% of people who die by suicide or attempt suicide have a mental disorder, with depression being the most common. Suicide tends to be a realistic choice for dealing with the issues that occur when you are depressed. Suicide is seen as a cure for mental distress and hopelessness in 100 per cent of situations. You may argue that suicide is not a viable choice. However, this is due to the fact that depression is so common. When you are depressed, it can seem rational to commit suicide to end your misery.

Even though it is seen as a way to relieve painful feelings and thoughts, suicide is not a cure for mental illnesses (Leary, 2018).  It is a desperate act in which misery is alleviated, but it should be understood that it is just a permanent solution to a short-term issue. Are people conceited when it comes to cancer or heart disease? Obviously not. Your thought, mood, and judgment can all be influenced by a psychiatric mental disorder. Suicide is a symptom of an underlying disorder, so people need to be treated before developing suicidal thoughts.

Address mental illness before it’s too late

If someone commits the murder, it makes the headlines. When someone dies by suicide, there is nothing; it’s silence. Yet, the facts are suicide occurs far more often and is much more likely to affect our families and our society. They are even some countries where suicide is largely decriminalized. Let us acknowledge that the majority of people who attempt suicide do so because they do not want to die. (Leary, 2018).

They just want relief from the pain and people shouldn’t tell them the main reason they shouldn’t kill themselves but rather ask what causes the pain. Suicidal people deserve love and support, not guilty trips. Let’s start by looking at mental illness for what it truly is. It’s an illness like any other, but it requires special treatment. Any person suffering from a mental disorder is entitled to care, assistance, medication, and support.

“What mental health needs are more sunlight, more candour, and more unashamed conversation.” 

Glenn Close

Nobody is normal; we all have personal problems that inflict damage on our brains and damage us emotionally. Let us show compassion for those who are struggling and give them a reason to live tomorrow. We do not presume that people are happy simply because they smile; unhappy people do this often. They conceal their emotions in order to avoid being criticized and judged.

We need to change the culture of this topic and make it ok to speak about mental health and suicide.

Reference

Leary, M., 2018. Suicide as an Escape from the Self. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: <https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/toward-less-egoic-world/201806/suicide-escape-the-self> [Accessed 28 March 2021].

Griffin, J., 2021. How Chris Evans Coped With His Anxiety and Depression While Filming ‘Captain America’. [online] Showbiz Cheat Sheet. Available at: <https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/how-chris-evans-coped-with-his-anxiety-and-depression-while-filming-captain-america.html/> [Accessed 28 March 2021].

Ginn, S. and Horder, J., 2012. “One in four” with a mental health problem: the anatomy of a statistic. BMJ, 344(feb22 2), pp.e1302-e1302.

Ritchie, H., 2018. Global mental health: five key insights which emerge from the data. [online] Our World in Data. Available at: <https://ourworldindata.org/global-mental-health#:~:text=Around%201%2Din%2D7%20people,4%20percent%20of%20the%20population.> [Accessed 28 March 2021].

Who.int. 2001. The World Health Report 2001: Mental Disorders affect one in four people. [online] Available at: <https://www.who.int/news/item/28-09-2001-the-world-health-report-2001-mental-disorders-affect-one-in-four-people#:~:text=%22Mental%20illness%20is%20not%20a,releasing%20the%20World%20Health%20Report.> [Accessed 28 March 2021].

Caudle, N. (2018). We All Wear Mask: A Battle With Smiling Depression. Grits & Grace:. Retrieved 14 April 2021, from https://www.gritsngrace.com/wear-mask-battle-smiling-depression/.

Depression isn’t a choice – it can happen to anyone. Time To Change. (2021). Retrieved 14 April 2021, from https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/personal-stories/depression-isn%E2%80%99t-choice-%E2%80%93-it-can-happen-to-anyone.