Mystery creates wonder. And wonder is the basis of a man’s desire to understand. -Neil Armstrong
The human mind likes solving puzzles and that is why we enjoy mystery so much. The mysterious comes with a unique thrill that is stimulating, exciting and will draw us in. And that is precisely why mystery novels are one of the most popular read genres. It is the reason why so many will spend hours on a crossword puzzle. There is always something fresh and thrilling on a clean, white sheet of paper for writers.
Yet, in addition to the exciting and thrilling side of mysteries, there is also an element of fear; the first day of school, the first step of a journey and the first day on the job. Then there’s the part where we say, “that is so weird.” We look at the things that are unfamiliar, analyze and then come to the conclusion that because it’s different, it must be odd.
Since my initial diagnosis of anxiety and depression, I have become an object of mysterious wonder to many people. I’ve seen the thrilling component; that exciting determination of I will figure this one out. And I’ve seen the fear; the I’m not sure I want to do this, it might be contagious look. And I’ve also been branded as weird and rather odd.
What we don’t know becomes a mystery. And mysteries are different and strange. But mental illness should never be the object of anyone’s fear and shouldn’t be considered odd. People suffering from mental illness are people just like anyone else and they deserve to be treated as such.
Dealing with anxiety, depression and PTSD hasn’t made me lose my personality. I still enjoy listening to a good song as a means of winding down, I still like to write poetry so I can reflect on my thoughts and I am still funny and witty sometimes. I get sad sometimes and I cry; I also get really happy and excited sometimes. Just like you. And you. And you. We are not different as a people, we only fight a different battle.
Fortunately, though, we live in a world where mental illness is becoming more and more talked about. There are so many different resources that discuss and teach about different aspects of mental health. If someone in your life is in any way affected by a mental disorder, do them a favor and educate yourself. Firstly, because there should be no fear or panic associated with mental illness. The more you know and understand a subject, the more comfortable you are being around that subject. Also, admittedly, because as humans we want to be treated as such; we are not a thrill or a matter up for research and discussion. And most importantly, let the odd apply to three-legged aliens. When you will learn more about mental illness and how it affects us, you will realize that if you look past our struggles, we are just people trying to live life to the best of our abilities.
Recently, we had some guest over for the weekend. After the house quieted down and most people went to bed, I struck up a conversation with one of the guys. While we were chatting, my suicidal attempt somehow got mentioned. That seemed to have piqued his interest, for he soon had loads of questions as to how and why and where and what. When his curiosity was finally sated he found it perfectly fine to tell me that my story is the weirdest story he’s heard by far. Weird? You find a suicidal attempt weird? Is that the word you use to describe depression, anxiety and mental illness? Weird is the last adjective that comes to my mind in relation to suicide; sad, depressing or inspirational seem to fit better. When you use the term weird you don’t only hurt me, you hurt all of us suffering from mental illness. And by saying that, you state how poorly educated you are.
Why am I writing about this? To tell all of you, that we are not weird and we don’t have to be a mystery. If there is something that puzzles you in regards to mental health, please do some research before you make assumptions. We don’t have to be feared. No, mental illness is not contagious and we are generally not violent. Honestly, we are also not very thrilling; in fact, we might be depressing sometimes.
One out of four people is affected by a mental health condition here in the US. That is a lot. And that means that the chance of you interacting with one of them is very high. And that is why it is important for all of us to educate ourselves on this subject. Because knowledge replaces fear. And if you know it, it isn’t weird or exciting anymore; it becomes a mundane reality. So, read up on it because educating yourself about those illnesses is really the foundation of support.
There you go. Mystery solved.