Mental Health Events: A Farce

This may come across as an unnecessarily harsh critique of people looking to do good, but as someone dealing with mental health issues, I must express this.

The community has slowly woken up to the reality of mental health issues. There have been events dedicated to mental health awareness; organizations founded to educate and help children and young adults; and a slew of blog posts and personal shares of people’s struggles.

Yet, with all that, something fundamental is missing.

The typical event includes words from a doctor, rabbi, and recovered mental health person. The former discuss the necessity for public awareness in mental health, and the latter tell over their experiences and recovery. It’s often a moving and inspiring event for all.

What it isn’t is an accurate portrayal of mental health issues.

You don’t see the actual drug addicts getting up on stage and showcasing to the world how dysfunctional and damaged they are. Instead, what is shown are healthy people, people who were able to overcome their sickness, or at least manage it.

Yet, that’s not what mental health is about.

Mental health issues aren’t only “I was depressed, felt like shit, and am now struggling but okay.” Depression, for example, is an all-consuming thick cloud of dust and ash that envelopes its affectee; it convinces him that he’s the worst person in the world; it makes him take late-night dazed walks on Crown Heights streets because in the dark he feels free and secure.

Depression, as I have experienced it, makes me feel isolated from my family and friends. It keeps me holed in my room for days or even weeks. And the disease keeps on growing.

It makes me feel hated me when I go to a friends wedding
It tells me that I’ll never get married, that I’m unlovable.

It convinces me that God doesn’t exist and that the Rebbe was a charlatan.

It makes me look badly at everyone, seeing their flaws exclusively.

It makes me lie in my darkened basement and smelly room looking to the small window for salvation, for redemption.

It makes me shlep myself to therapy only to fall into depression on my way back.

As I begin to hate myself, I being to consume substances that make me feel less like an animal. And that only pushes me further away from myself and others.

I begin to roam the streets and the dark recesses of the internet.

Ultimately, it convinces me that my existence is for naught, that I’m a cancer on society, and I should kill myself. Death.

That’s mental health. That’s the curse of this illness that, like cancer, it slowly and painfully kills your soul. Your eyes look vacant. You slouch in your chair. You begin to look unkempt, and why should you take a shower or get a haircut?! You’re worthless anyway.

But you don’t want to hear that and worse at an event with nice people. You want to be to sigh and say: “God, this is so terrible — we have to do something” and then do nothing.

You want to stand up and clap — oh, that infuriating, hollow clap — that signals your support for that person. Anything to make it civilized and normal. Anything but connecting with that horrible reality of mental illness.

I hope you can now understand why mental health events infuriate me.

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  1. Anonymous August 22, 2019 at 10:58 pm

    Totally agree with this 100%. Thats why I think support for those going through it needs to happen. The shame behind the stigma has to be absolved, but I feel like support is what is lacking. A concrete support system. I know for a fact that the mental health support system is extremely lacking in Crown Heights. I feel like those who dealt with it are glorified, but those who still struggle are looked at as crazy as messed up.
    I wrote this, you might relate:
    I need everyone to know that the struggle is also okay. That they arent crazy. And they dont need to be okay in order to be looked at as normal. And amazing. And strong. That the fact that they are fighting this is what counts. And how hard it is to be fighting. And how they are warriors every single day of their life. How they fight every single second, it just makes them greater. You don’t need to be recovered in order to not be considered crazy and messed up. I feel like those who are recovered, and they talk about what they have been through, they are accepted mostly and are just thought of as strong and amazing. They are glorified to the point that the battle doesnt count, and the thing that counts is that they are done with in. The stigma lies within the struggle, within the fight, within the relapses. The moments that arent glorified, the ones that have you sitting by your plan, ready to kill yourself, or having a razor in your hand, or high on drugs. The moments that have you clutching at any coping mechanism you have in order to survive. Those are the moments that we collectively have to work on to accept. And no I am not looking down upon those who are in a good place. I think its so powerful, that it gives hope that it will get better. I wish I can be like that one day. But Im not. And for the same battle they are looked as amazing for winning, I am looked down upon for struggling. Thats not okay. Its okay not to be okay. Im never going to be done saying that. The times when people arent okay, when they are struggling, thats what needs to be spoken about. That it is okay to struggle. It is okay to break down. And you dont have to appear strong all the time in order to be considered strong.

    1. Anonymous August 29, 2019 at 2:40 pm

      Thanks for the kind words!

      Beautiful piece you wrote there!


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