Matters of the Mind

May 29, 2011
Mental illness or mental disorder is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a mental or bodily condition marked primarily by sufficient disorganization of personality, mind, and emotions to seriously impair the normal psychological functioning of the individual.” This is an issue people seem to shy away from and is deemed “controversial.” Despite one’s personal opinion, the simple fact of the matter is that it’s a silent killer of countless people every year, whether it may be personality disorders, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, substance addictions or any of the many mental illnesses out there. It’s true that it’s easy for people to write it off by saying “not my problem” or “at least no one I know is ‘crazy.’”

However, how easy is it to ignore when it’s right up in your face, screaming at you? What happens when you see a boy with long sleeves covering his wrists in the summer heat? Do you see the girl eating a minimal lunch? Do you see her when she casually pushes away her meal and goes to the bathroom? Or do you choose to ignore her? Can you bear to look at the boys and girls who cry all day because they’re so anxious about making the wrong move, falling into the oh-so-terrible world of imperfection? What do you do? Do you pretend that they’re not like you, that they’re absolutely nuts, or just the reverse and that you never saw a thing wrong happening? Or do you try to understand them, try to see that they’re actually people too, people just like you who are just having a rough time right now?

Everyone needs to accept that even if someone appears happy, you never know what they go home to or if they even have a home. They could be not eating or restricting, cutting, burning, purging, binging or any other form of self-harm; they could be silently dying, hearing voices in their heads, contemplating suicide, or crying uncontrollable for no apparent reason. You never know. Just because someone doesn’t look like they’re hurting doesn’t mean they aren’t.

Also, people need to stop thinking that other people with mental illnesses are doing what they do for attention. Even if they were, though, wouldn’t that be an issue, too? What has made that person so attention-deprived that they feel they need to hurt themselves in order to be happy? If people are feeling badly, you shouldn’t make them feel even more terrible about themselves by judging them, either. Not every person who cuts has slashes on their wrists, not every person who binges, purges, or restricts looks like they do, not every person who has anxiety can’t function, and someone’s substance addiction might not be so obvious.

Essentially, the moral of the story is that all the people who hate and judge other people should just remember that everyone has a hard life, even if they don’t show it. Everyone should also know how beautiful inside and out they are no matter what, and contribute to the happiness and not the pain of the world.

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