Friday, January 17, 2014
We the mentally ill are among you
Unless we are in danger to ourselves, you can't lock all of us mentally ill up in wards. We are among you. 1 in 4 of you is one of us. Trying to lead a normal life to your expectations. For many this will be possible, because medication and therapy are now advanced and proven. But rest assured we the 1 in 4 who try so much harder to be normal are going to fall short sometimes, often. Just as you don't begrudge one with a broken limb for falling over more often than someone with intact legs, cut us slack.
It won't be easy to. Because many of us seem okay to you. You try to give layman advice that most of the time it is just the thought that counts. (Breathe more! Do more exercise!)
Then how? Cover me, carry me, understand my condition, realise I will need more sick leave just like someone who has another chronic but manageable illness, like kidney failure, diabetes, asthma. What do you get in return for having the back of a mentally unwell colleague? Nothing. Because we all need to carry the social burden of the less privileged, it is the right thing to do.
But some of us, will give society back more in return. I cannot promise you at the net worth of what I do for this world will be greater than what you give me. I will try till I die, and till then, please accept that I won't always be 'well' and 'on' 7 days a week.
(I really admire the healthy who can do so much more than I can. It makes me feel ashamed. I also want to work 12 hours a day 7 days a week and not fall short. I want so much to be a functioning workaholic not just an aspiring one. But every day I am humbled by my illness, and some days I cannot overcome its symptoms. It is agonising. If you find it hard to accept the oft-sick in your workplace, trust me, most of us find it harder to be normal enough for you to accept us.)
We are among you, some merely silently. Plesse cover us when we need it.