Last week and early this week, I saw a barrage of posts on World Mental Health Day. I am not against celebrating such days. I understand its symbolic but I strongly believe if we restrict ourselves only to this symbolism, we won't be able to get to the root of the problem.
So, having been a survivor I'm going to attempt through the next couple of blogs to share my perspectives on aspects related to mental health -
a) External - how we look at others
b) Internal - how we think of ourselves.
I'm relying on poetry to help put across my views. Here's the first one.....
"Whenever Richard Cory went down town, We people on the pavement looked at him: He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich—yes, richer than a king—
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head."
A fairly simple poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson. About a rich nice guy who is a spectacle of envy of everyone in town but ends his life one night.
This poem can be interpreted in many ways.
Most Popular: Money and material possessions can't guarantee happiness. Cliche, I agree.
My Take: We see only the highlight reel of other person's life. We don't have a view to their struggles and pains and the demons in their head.
This poem offers a reminder—and perhaps a warning—about the hidden depths of people whose whole selves are supposedly known and understood. Beneath the trappings of wealth, fame, success, and possessions the silent truth of one's unhappiness remained an unseen mystery. How disconnected the realities are from the assumptions about a person!
Yet, how often we reference our lives basis others. We envy their life. It's fine to admit it. But we never ever think about the downside to someone's life. So busy envying their riches and exteriors that we forget to ask them and be bothered by what they must be going through internally.
Or, we assume rather than ask. We judge rather than understand. We follow success and scoff at failures rather than being humble. We preach rather than practice. We deride rather than inspire.
We can celebrate World Mental Health Day all we want by posting on social media and by sharing the practices established in our corporate houses but never will we be able to solve it if the "humaneness" is missing. If empathy is missing, if compassion is missing.
And let's say even if these qualities are intact, hope it is not reserved only for a special day in the year (World Mental Health Day).
We are better than this. We were born to be curious and ask, be human and feel and understand and converse. Not envy and assume and judge.
Each one of us has our own Richard Cory.