Ignorance from society:
Ignorance from society is
one of the main causes of social anxiety and depression. Rejection from society
leads to a series of emotional and spiritual issues that need to be addressed. Humans
are not created to be antisocial. The need for human companionship, love,
acceptance, and even touch is inherent to our natures. Rejection, however, can
subjugate those needs creating more serious issues. Feeling rejected from one
of our most basic needs has a devastating impact on the way we see life and the
way we deal with life. The hardest thing to overcome in a person’s life is
the emotional impact of feeling rejected. Teenagers can go to extra-ordinary
lengths to be accepted, sometimes by any group, good or bad. Adults are
constantly seeking a slot where they can be accepted and useful. Those children
who are accepted are significantly more emotionally stable than those who are
not. But those who feel rejected from family and social circles develop a fear
of rejection which makes it harder and harder to be accepted. The end result of
such a case is often depression and anxiety leading to suicide.
Those people who have friends frequently go through life unaware that
others do not, because those others are so isolated as to be socially
invisible. We are living in an era in which Facebook has made “friend” into a
verb, we often confuse the ambient familiarity of websites with the authentic familiarity
that comes with sharing your life’s challenges with someone who cares – who
will be happy because you feel joy, sad because you are ad, worried if you are
not well, reassuring if you are hopeless. We are socially isolated even in
crowded cities and at noisy parties.
Depression is a disease of loneliness. Many untreated depressives lack
friends because it destroys the vitality that friendship requires and immures
its victims in an impenetrable sheath, making it hard for them to speak or hear
words of comfort. It would be arrogant for people with friends to pity
those without. Some friendless people may be close to their parents or children
rather than to extra familiar friends, or they may be more interested in things
or ideas than in other people. The Relate research suggests that married people
are mostly happier than the unmarried, but marriage is not right for everyone.
Many people, however, are desperate for love, but don’t know how to go
about finding it, disabled by depression’s tidal pull toward seclusion.
Loneliness will not be fixed by medication, though pills may instigate the
stability to open up to friendship’s liabilities: potential rejection,
exhausting demands, and the need for self-sacrifice.
Loneliness and depression have always gone hand-in-hand. We’ve all
experienced moments when we find ourselves a little down due to a lack of close
friendships. If someone had no close relationships in life,
it’s not a stretch to assume he would feel some powerful malaise as a result.
Recently, a study conducted over a five year period at the University of
Chicago found that the presence of loneliness early in the five year span
was an excellent predictor for depression later in the five year span. In fact,
loneliness was an even better predictor than the presence of depression itself
early in the five year span.
If there is a person who has to skip class or miss a day of work because
of cancer, almost no one would question the validity of their condition or the
authenticity of their intentions but Ii someone missed a day of work because of
allergies or temperature, many of us would be more likely to be skeptical about
whether or not the individual is actually sick or if he or she
simply doesn’t want to come to school or work. Not because we’re ignorant, but
because everyone has had a cold or allergies.
Everyone has gone through temperature and allergies. So, they think taking
leave from work due to this reason is not acceptable. But not many of us have
dealt with cancer, and because we have no understanding or experience, we are
able to respect it as valid reason. Perhaps the person has extreme allergies,
and has a reaction leaving them unable to breath, warranting an eventual trip
to the hospital. Meanwhile, the individual with cancer may be feeling fine and
capable of working but is really just using it as an excuse to skip work or
school. Even in hearing that the person with allergies had to pay a visit to
the hospital, many would still be quick to judge him or her as lazy while able
to forgive the individual with cancer. We tell the person with allergies to
take some medicine or an allergy shot and get back to school or work as soon as
possible, because in our personal experiences, that’s how we handle a cold or
allergies. Meanwhile we are eager to encourage to cancer patient to get rest, take
leave from work, focus on getting better, and come back on their own time,
assuring him or her that we can’t possibly understand what they are going
through but are perfectly willing to work with them upon their return to catch
them up on everything they missed because of that horrible disease.
This is the same reason so much stigma exists around mental illness, and
especially depression and anxiety. We don’t know what it’s like to have
schizophrenia, and that lack of experience allows us to respect and fear it. In
this case, ignorance fosters, at the very least, an acknowledgment that it is a
real and serious disorder. Someone misses work or school because of a
breakdown, episode, or hallucination, and we are quick to accept this as a
valid excuse not to come to class or the office. On the other hand, if someone
misses work or school because of a panic attack or because the depression is so
bad they don’t have the energy to get out of bed, we tell them to get over it.
We tell them to cheer up and look at the bright side or to take a deep breath
because there’s nothing to worry about. We try to give them advice based on
what we do when we’re nervous or sad, but what individuals with depression and
anxiety are struggling with goes far beyond these normal and healthy emotions.
And while the intention behind these offerings of advice is generally pure, all
they really serve to do is invalidate the very real and debilitating symptoms
of entirely legitimate disorders.
If sadness and worry were not common emotions familiar to all people, we
would be much more concerned when individuals feel the intense symptoms of
anxiety and depression. But we do have these emotions, and although the
symptoms are just as intense, we are able to disregard them because ‘we know
what it’s like.
Ignorance is a problem that prevents a lot of people from recognizing
the severity of mental illness, and it does add to stigma
surrounding mental illness. However, it is not, in any way, the primary
contributor that we ascribe it to be. While we should be
informed and seek to understand the complexity and severity of mental health,
ignorance is not the most harmful reaction to these conditions. The false
belief that we do understand and our attempts to treat them
with trivial advice is the real injustice.