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  • Writer's pictureKamran Mazhar

"As a male, I have often felt disheartened while sharing my mental illness with my loved ones."

Mental illness has always been quite a severe issue for the whole of humankind and yet very unacknowledged. People have been suffering from mental disorders for a very long time and they might continue to suffer if we do not have an honest conversation about it. There are several awareness camps going on about spreading awareness for mental illness but often the sufferers struggle to talk about it completely. We need to focus on our own shortcomings before trying to guide others i.e., try fixing the struggle of someone close to you who has been a victim of depression or any kind of mental illness rather than posting photos on social media on “how to overcome mental illness.”

People say “The pen is mightier than the sword.” So here I am trying to write down the ongoing problems based on the people suffering from any kind of mental illness.

  • Primarily our society needs to address the fact that mental illness is just like any other illness that a human being suffers from. So, there should be the eradication of tagging the term “Paagal” (insane) with the person suffering.

  • Secondly, we must acknowledge that a sufferer of mental illness does try to seek care from their loved ones like their family and friends. What is wrong with seeking care from another person when you are tremendously vulnerable?

  • Thirdly, we must bring an end to the trend of making jokes about depression or about the person who is suffering from it. Pin your faith in my words that by making a joke about depression or someone’s illness, you are making the situation far worse for the person suffering. Do not laugh at the struggles of a person’s sufferings. Period.

Let us assume there are two friends. One of them is mentally ill and the other one is

completely unaware of being mentally ill. Let us say the person who is fine tries to crack a joke related to his/her friend’s suffering or any mental illness in a general way just to boost his/her friend’s mood. Surely this person tried giving his/her struggling friend a source of happiness by telling him/her a joke, but the other person cannot take it as a joke at all. He/She might think that his/her friend does not even care about their illness. And now moving on from it becomes a dreadful task for this person that no one can imagine.

  • And last but not the least, please cease comparing being ‘stressed out’ and being ‘depressed.’ There is a massive difference between being stressed out and being depressed. Do not take depression as elementary as stress. We all get stressed out daily; while returning from the office, before giving a presentation, managing our monthly bills, and so on. Everyone gets stressed out and sad, but being depressed is completely on a different plain. Mental illness is far more frightful than sadness or being stressed out and depression is a doorway to a whole new world of suffering. There are far worse illnesses that we are not aware of and the symptoms of those illnesses are completely unthinkable. Stop taking it as a basic human emotion. It is not an emotion; it is an illness.

Let us take the example of the two friends we just talked about in the previous point. The friend who is completely well and doesn’t know much about mental illness gets to know that his/her friend is suffering from depression. The friend who is completely well does not take mental illness seriously because he/she has never faced what happens during this illness. So, this friend visits his/her depressed friend and says “Hey, I heard that you are suffering from depression, right? Please watch this Web Series/Movie (any random one) and believe me your depression will evaporate like magic.” STOP DOING THIS STRAIGHT AWAY! Stop taking depression or any other mental illness so lightly that it will simply go away by watching a movie or doing any other random activity. Stop denying the fact that it is also an illness. Can you say the same to a person suffering from any other chronic disease like cancer or tuberculosis? No, because one can see the sufferings of a patient with his/her eyes but mental illness being a completely inner phenomenon is always neglected.

As a male, I have often felt disheartened while sharing my mental illness with my loved ones. Men have been quite unmindful about this issue. One of the biggest reasons for men being less sensitive about mental illness is our cultural production. By birth, men have been told, “Arrey ladka hoke rota hai?” (Crying being a boy?) We have always been told by our elders that a crying man is somehow a sign of weakness. Are men considered to be emotionless? How can a person not cry in tough times? I find it completely unnatural.

According to a report by Livemint, “India has a high suicide rate, with around 71% male and 29% female accounting for the total number of suicide deaths in the country in 2020, said the latest report prepared by the health ministry on National Suicide Prevention Strategy.” This report clearly indicates that men are also prone to vulnerability. I am not saying that all those men who commit suicide are mentally ill. But by this report, it is completely contradictory to say that men cannot be vulnerable. The men of our society must accept the fact that we can be vulnerable at times which is completely alright and it is not unmanly at all. Men should start embracing the sensitive side of their personalities. According to the World Happiness Report, India ranks 126th out of 137 countries, making it one of the least happy countries around the world.

We need to address this issue as soon as we can. We have already lost many who found

themselves losing in their own battles and we are losing more people steadily. What are we waiting for? I have heard people discussing the struggles of a person when he/she is gone. Does it help when they have left us? We must act on this issue immediately. It should be taught at early stages in schools. We must educate ourselves first before lighting the torch to enlighten others. If we do not do this now, we surely will let the illness prevail.


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