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Examining The Reality Of Mental Illness

 - Hyderabad


Hyderabad   |   17 Feb 2024

Examining The Reality Of Mental Illness

Many people ask - Is mental illness real?


Consider this, a person has a leg fracture and gets operated as per doctors advice. the doctor tells him to take 2-3 months rest. Nobody says to him, “Oh, this is all in your leg, get over it. Just go out, watch a movie, you will be fine. You dont need surgery, if you have the will and motivation, then you will get over it. Will anyone say so? No!! Then, i ask you, why are these dialogues so common when a person gets diagnosed with mental illness. 


Someone says, “mental illness is just in your mind, get over it” - yes, of course it is in our mind, but that doesn't make it any less real. Is the mind not a part of our body? is it not made of matter, connections, chemicals like other organs? Of course, thoughts cannot be touched, emotions cannot be measured by a machine. But, just because some aspects of the mind cannot be touched, it doesn't make it any less real. 


Also people say very casually, “Just go out, watch movies, you will get over your depression”. Depression or any other mental illness is not purely an emotional thing. India lost the world cup and we all felt depressed. But, thats not the clinical depression we are talking about. Chemical imbalances in the brain cause mental illness, in other words, in the leg it is a physical fracture and in the brain, it is a chemical fracture. So, just like we can’t expect a person with a fractured leg to run and jump, we cannot expect a person with mental illness to do whatever he was doing. 


Someone exclaims, “Oh, you are using medications? Your doctors have suggested ECT?  they will numb your brain, they will dull you”. A fracture surgery can go wrong but still you take the risk because avoiding a surgery has more harmful effects. Same way, not taking proper treatment will cause the brain to go into a worse state, “early detection and treatment of mental illness is very important.” Yes, medications will have side effects, many of which are not so dangerous, but the risk is small as compared to the suffering of the person.


And some give free advice “if you have the will and motivation you can simply get over a mental illness.” When the problem is in the neurochemicals, simply being motivated and having the will won't change things, motivation has the power to give us strength to take proper treatment, but motivation is not yet powerful enough to change the chemical levels in the brain.


And finally some people say “Dont tell anyone you have a mental illness” but why not? Once you understand that mental illness doesn’t define you, you can disclose it. Of course, you don’t need to wear it like a medal, but you should be as free to talk about your mental illness as you talk about diseases like say hypertension or diabetes. When you suffer from a fracture, you simply suffer from a fracture, you are not fractured. Just like that, you are not a depressive, you suffer from depression, you are not a schizophrenic, you suffer from schizophrenia. We are much more than our mental illness. mental illness cannot be the id cards or identity cards for us anymore.


So, coming back to the question, yes, mental illness is very much real and we need to talk more about it, you know why? Because you have no reason whatsoever to suffer in silence anymore. So, please give a thought about what i have said and lets talk!

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