By Sharaf Momen
In a world where the sun grows brighter, the nights grow ghastlier. Uglier. Darker. When ethical considerations are brought to light, more morals are challenged and betrayed. When we claim to grow in reaching the sun, we lose our grasp of the soil we laid foundation on through our roots. When we claim to be open-minded, we scared many into those who no longer wish to open their minds to us at all.
Mental health is treated as a secondary, or if not, tertiary component, or maybe even much further down our priority list, in the importance of one’s overall fitness. We focus on the physique, using height, weight, muscle mass or the condition of our skins, placing it against a scale of thin to fat, light to heavy, pale to dark as measurement of how we are as an overall being. We skim to performance, results, percentages on your child’s exam papers to measure how one is coping. We delve so much into “see to believe”, we forget to touch base on our minds, that is, without mere fractions to calculate one’s successes.
There are so many faults regarding our “logical” assumptions, but I’ll try to condense it down into a small story:
Kim had just turned 16. There was no “sweet” anywhere close to that number. She never had the slightest thought there could possibly be. She came home, back aching as each disc down her spine scream at the bag that held the books she breathed. Suffocated from. Her mother dragged herself, robotically, along to floor. She laid her feather, lifeless fingers on her daughter’s shoulders, and pressed her against herself in a hug, as she scrunched the A+ in her palms. Then, with a practiced smile, she sent her off to her room, quietly closing the door behind her. Kim took her books out in familiarity to her robotic memory, as she heard the door knob click. She saw her mother’s shadow interrupting the wooden floor, through the slit between the floor and the door. The intruder silhouette glided away, and lifted the weighted paranoia of Kim’s chest. She couldn’t help but glance at the clock, calculating how long she has till she is freed till the last minute. She looked back at her book. She wondered how long does she have to wait, not in minutes, but in days, till she doesn’t have to stare at pages, having words drain her. She’s thought to herself how it’s so exhausting, being treated like a robot, how excruciating it is to trap thoughts, doubts, hammering her skull to escape, while she just tapes it back up with unfound motivation. Taped her walls up with the thought of those around her, robots, trapped in their rooms, studying 12 hours a day, not shedding a single complaint, and hence, she dared not mention a word. Any of the words that run in a frenzy, winding around her head, creating cumulating negative thoughts that run in hurricanes, bashing against the walls of her head. Pushing tears from her eyes when pillows are ready to take their pitiful stained kisses from them. Thoughts, fuelling her robot body into following the daily procedure of running knives across wrists, and then running herself to the windows, breathing in the city lights and Korea’s pleasant pollution. She began to calculate the distance between her and busy roads down at the bottom, cars honking in preparation of the eulogy that awaits her.
The mind is an important part of your health. Your physical body is a kingdom, and it is your mind that leads it. Once the ruler is down, your kingdom, your body, is overtaken by chaos. It’s unfortunate that we’re beginning to accept more rights, such as black rights, gay rights, basic human rights, taking steps to a better future for all, almost, but we cannot accept that there are those who possess mental issues. Depression, anxiety, anorexia, ADHD, though people claim so, these are not made up as an excuse to attract extra attention, “extraordinary” qualities or compensate for lack of attentiveness. There is scientific and psychological research to prove so, where experts of such professions have even gone to the level of detecting physical differences between a normal brain and that that goes through several mental issues.
Overall, this is not a black and white world. We cannot assume things from a superficial level, or we will continue to claim we are open-minded, but in fact, reject a colossal number of those who really need help, in expressing themselves, having their voices magnified and simply understanding. Slowly, in a world where we begin to prize mental health and physical health equally, if we help those around us who need help or even help in raising awareness on the importance of physical health, Kim will not have to feel isolated, misunderstood and helpless. Maybe, if we could bring about a world where we can let people truly open their minds, we can counter the darkening night with the light in our understanding and acceptance.