Mental illnesses are probably one of the most misunderstood and poorly-received disabilities in the world. They are among the few disabilities where the disabled are still condemned by the world for having them, and are used as insults against those who don't necessarily have them, similarly to the retarded and the autistic (disabilities whose reception is fortunately changing for the better thanks to increased awareness).
Who exactly are the mentally ill, and why is it still a shame and a taboo to admit that one is, so to speak, psychologically disabled? Are all of them locked behind closed doors at psychiatric wards? Are they all willing to cause harm to others through, murder, and other forms of violence against those who stand in their way of whatever irrational philosophy they have in life?
The first and most disturbing truth is that many people around us are mentally ill without us even realizing it. As a society, we have a long way to go in terms of understanding and accepting mental illness. The confession of poor mental health can easily deteriorate into rejection and a poor reputation from others.
It is important to remember that mental illness is not a choice, and that people with mental illnesses are just as deserving of respect and compassion as anyone else. If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental illness, please reach out for help. There are many resources available, and you don't have to go through this alone.
Anyways, I was taught by psychologists that a person is considered mentally ill if they consume psychiatric medication on a regular basis. More specifically, it's because they have a mental disorder that needs to be treated. And nowadays, most mental illness cannot be cured. You don't have to be suicidal or be plotting a school shooting in order to be considered mentally ill. Many people who appear normal and healthy can still suffer from mental disorders, which may not necessarily involve a traumatizing event.
My mother, Dafna, is one of the nicest, most innocent people I have ever known, and yet she is mentally ill because she takes medication that helps her in her struggle against her bipolar disorder. Her parents have also suffered from various mental illnesses that she has unfortunately inherited the increased potential to have, due to genetics.
Here is also something you might not have known about poor mental health: whether you are born with it or gain it throughout life, you will have it permanently, once gained. It's not something that can be cured like any other illness, and that's why it is often recognized as a disability.
I am also mildly afraid to admit it, in a world where that kind of disabled folk are condemned, but I don't really see a reason why I should be ashamed to admit that I suffer from an anxiety disorder, and thus have decided to live more monastically because of it (alongside more philosophical reasons). I will never kill anyone, and I believe to be rational and relatively healthy, physically.
The way mentally ill people are portrayed in the media is not always accurate. Few of us turn into serial killers, r**ists, school shooters, terrorists, suicide bombers, child molesters, and cult leaders, even if a small portion does. Some of us might end up in psychiatric wards for a while, sometimes more than once, but that hospitalization is meant to help us recover and return to the world as healthier people.
It still saddens me to see that the disabled are still condemned for being as such, despite the world's social progression towards the reception of minority groups. I am certain most if not all the mentally ill, if they could, would have chosen to become non-disabled, AKA, mentally healthy human beings.
And no, being mentally ill is not the same as being crazy or insane, which is the common misconception that leads to the usage of our condition as a common insult. The contemporary definition of insane is anyone who is not fit to be ordered to court. Some mentally ill people are thus insane, but the rest of us are not, and hopefully will never be.
Everyone is prone to getting one or more mental disorders, and it can literally happen at any time, given the uncertainty of the world. You might laugh at our permanent disability, but take note that you too can become a part of us one day, as many people do at any occasion, subtle as traumatic.
Anxiety, as a mental disorder, is quite common.
I could have been a different man in this life if it weren't for my anxiety disorder having a normal job and academic degrees in philosophy would have been preferably possible with little risk if I weren't prone to anxiety attacks, burnouts, poor social skills, and a deep despise for irritating sounds one may find usual.
I thus use this site as an alternative to the philosophical academic life I always wanted since I began my interest in philosophizing.
From all of this I wish for two things to happen in the world: that there won't be any disability-shaming to anyone whatsoever, and that one day, perhaps in the long future, an actual cure for mental illnesses would actually be found or invented.
Thank you all for reading and I hope this article has helped promoting the value of mental health awareness.