Dread fills the air as the doors slide open. A sudden familiar weight enters the stomach. The heightened awareness of the surroundings return. This isn’t just a trip to the grocery store anymore, but instead a frantic scanning of the store for anything that might hinder the success of shopping. Flashbacks of forcing oneself out of the car and the brief pep talk prior to leaving the house resurface, and a feeling of panic begins to sweep across one’s mind. The solitude, the glances from strangers, the various scenarios playing in one’s brain, as if a fortune teller has made himself at home in there, all begin to set in. No task seems to be simple for those with anxiety. As hard as the trip itself appears to be, one of the hardest facts to face is the simple truth: This hindrance affects not only the person who deals with it daily, but also those around him. Mental disorders and mental illnesses go beyond the realm of their owner, even if the effect they have is primarily targeted on the owner.
Mental illness affects the way that one talks and acts towards others. People who suffer from mental disorders may come off as rude or mean due to the way that their mental disorder makes them feel. One with anxiety in a situation similar to the one I described may be to avoid talking to people he recognizes, resulting in a misunderstanding from the other person. This may appear to be inconsiderate or an act of rudeness when, in actuality, it is a defense mechanism and just what the person feels comfortable doing. Someone suffering from depression may allow the irritation and quick frustration that accompanies this disorder to get the best of them, and may reflect these feelings on others. It’s easy for one suffering from depression to fall into the trap of pushing others away and being slightly pessimistic towards others and this can allow others to have a negative impression of the person who is depressed. Although mental illnesses and disorders are not an excuse to be a bad person or openly rude towards others, it is a factor which others should take into consideration at times.
Despite the burden they can bear on those they affect, mental illnesses do not define people. People with mental illness may have a different method of thinking in some instances, but this does not handicap them or prevent them from living a completely “normal” life. The mental illness may, at times, be difficult to live with or endure, but that does not mean that the person who is afflicted by it is. While having mental illness isn’t a choice, choosing to consider what someone else is going through before judging them is, and that is the choice that many people should consider before passing judgment on others.
(Lauren Andrews is a senior at Camden High School and a high school columnist for the Chronicle-Independent, Camden, S.C.)