Mental Illness Is Embarrassing. Why?

The stigma attached to mental illness in India means that those suffering from bipolar disorder rarely speak out.

Mental illness is embarrassing. Why?

The society is now opening up to same sex relationships. It is something that happens inside one in every 50 homes if not more. I am all for the freedom to choose a way of life. I often speak to my friends who are planning a baby to be prepared to discover and accept their child’s sexual preferences.

If you are wondering where I may be going with this conversation, I wish to talk about ‘mental illness’ in comparison with same sex relationships only because both carry a gigantic taboo around them.

While we are taking to the streets about the rights of the former the latter i.e. the mentally ill are still embarrassed to accept their own condition.

Women with mental illnessI am one of those people. While I have completely embraced my condition and am learning to take care of myself, I haven’t told my cousins about it, or my boss or a lot of other people. And the reason is 1 of course the fear of being judged, but the other I have realized over the years is that our society is not ready with a reply to the statement, ‘I suffer from depression‘.

Me to boss – I suffer from depression and may at times need unplanned days off. The days when I am in a dark place.
Boss to me – Oh! Sure! How often does it happen?

What? Do you know how often this year will you be down with viral fever? A simple ‘I understand’ would do.

One may argue that one’s sexual preference is not likely to have any effect on productivity in the workplace while mental illnesses can adversely effect productivity and harmony. Here is news for you; do you know what else can adversely affect productivity and harmony in your organization? ‘Migraine headaches’. (which could have very well been caused due to work stress)

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I intentionally did not pick common cold as a parallel because migraine headaches can be faked as well as depression. There is no test to detect either but does that mean they do not exist? How do you manage productivity drops due to migraine headaches?

A simple reply to the statement, ‘I suffer from depression’ would be ‘I understand’. But like I said, we are not equipped with answers. Why are we are not equipped with appropriate responses to something that affects 1 in every 4 people?

Have you heard of a little baby who was trapped in a room and had to cry out aloud for the neighbours to come and rescue her, give her a hug and a glass of water?

We are talking about 1 in 4 people trapped inside a room but do not have a voice to cry out loud mainly because they think there won’t be anyone outside holding a glass of water.

These are the ones who need to ‘get out of the closet’ just in order to live a better life.

So here is me coming out of the closet. I suffer from Bipolar Disorder and the more I read about it the more I understand the reasons behind being called names like ‘whimsical’ and ‘tantrum child’ even at a very young age.

At least half of the cases of Bipolar Disorder start before the age of 25 and that it takes an average of 8 years for the disorder to be diagnosed. Definition – Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Bipolar is a serious mental illness that can damage relationships, career prospects, academic performance, and can even lead to suicidal tendencies.

I was blessed to have suffered no damages in 2 areas – my academic performance and my career.

Emilie Autumn, the American singer-songwriter, poet, and violinist said – “I’m bipolar, but I’m not crazy, and I never was. I’m stark raving sane.”

I too continue to ride the Bipolar Roller-Coaster and I am stark raving sane.

Pic: The image used here was part of project on subverting stereotypes about mental illness, by Jen H (Used under a Creative Commons license)


About the Author


The power of stories to inspire change made me turn into a storyteller. I write on 2 topics that need a very clear shift in attitude – ‘Being single in India’ & ‘Stigma attached to mental read more...

25 Posts | 135,084 Views

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