“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
-Bill Gates

COVID-19 is undoubtedly the biggest pandemic in at least a century if not more. Elderly people who have been through various recessions, the great depression and major wars such as World War II have all said there has never been outbreak like this in their lifetime.

Even the people who were the most nonchalant about it in the beginning are now gripped with fear and anxiety with each passing day.

And then, there are people with mental health issues such as myself who are observing the situation and thinking, the world FINALLY understands.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t wish this kind of chaos on my worst enemy. Like anyone else, I dream of a day when I wake up one morning and see the world returned to normalcy. And yet, I can’t help but think that people who never understood the significance and eminence of mental illness are experiencing what I and countless others go through on daily basis even on the brightest of days.

The languor, the vexation and various other emotions reaching the boiling point is the closest state of mind to depression and anxiety for people who have never experienced one or both of those issues.

Just last night, I was talking to a very close friend of mine on Zoom. To put it in context, this particular friend of mine is one of the most positive and cheerful people I’ve ever known. There have even been times when his upbeat attitude has gotten on my nerves when I was having a depression episode.

Last night was a whole different story. The fear and uncertainty he displayed is something I’ve never heard in his voice before. He even asked me point blank if this what depression felt like. When I replied affirmatively, his exact words to me (printed here with his permission) were, “Really? Is this how bad it gets when you’re having an episode? I’m so sorry.”

As stated before, this pandemic, no doubt is one of the worst outbreaks to hit this world. Everyone, including myself, will rejoice in abundance when it’s over. But with that feeling of relief, I hope the world around me has another feeling that’ll stick with them for the rest of their lives.

The feeling of empathy. As bad as everything is right now, I’m hoping with utmost sincerity that nobody ever underestimates the importance of mental issues like depression, anxiety and bipolarity ever again.

Will it happen? Will the world be more accepting of people in my shoes? That remains to be seen. But I think it will because rightfully or not, the coronavirus has become a reference point for anyone who never understood before.

How do you feel about the correlation between COVID-19 and mental health issues? Do you think people who never understood the severity of mental illnesses understand it now? Why or why not? Has any friend or family member acted like they’ve never done before around you? Share your thoughts and experiences by commenting below on our secure servers.

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Shirley Satterfield (@shirleymandelsatterfield)
11 months ago

I can relate to your poem, Neel. People have always looked down on me for my depression as if I sinned somehow and inflected it on myself on purpose. Now the whole world is on its knees at the feet of a virus and still looking for someone to blame. Pride always goes before a fall, and it’s negative pride which is at the root of mental health stigma because it what makes them feel better about their own wretched lives and sins.

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