Syeda Maisha Samiha:
Not sure about how many of you have watched the series ‘Designated Survivor’ on Netflix, even if you didn’t, let me cut it short to a very brief part of it, an aspect that was very unexpected to be portrayed in a series that is predominantly about American politics, leadership, and governance. The main character of the series, the president of the united states of America was caught up in the phase of depression right after his wife’s death. The cabinet decided to bring him to court to assess his capability to rule as a president when his therapy sessions with his psychiatrist were leaked by someone in the Whitehouse. After much investigation, it was found that his mother once had been hospitalized due to being clinically depressed and his brother had gone through a phase of ‘bipolar disorder’ after his breakup with his long-term girlfriend. The president, a human being made of flesh and blood did not have any such history of mental health issues, but he mourned and missed his wife as a husband. He had had a hard time coming to terms with the loss of his confidante and had started seeing a psychiatrist on the request of his senior staff. Like any other normal human being, he had difficulties in being completely functional and making perfectly reasonable decisions of national emergency after that shock.
Even if someone was doing the job of the most powerful person on earth he would still be a human, someone with every right to mourn losing a loved one, to not be able to be do complete justice to his profession role for time being, to slack off a bit and be given complete discretion to decide if would want to keep serving or take a break.
On a more general note, why would we ever feel the need to question someone with mental health issues his/her reasons for falling into it? Like it is very human for someone to feel sad, it should be considered equally ‘human’ to be stricken with any kind of mental health issues. Aren’t we defined as human beings in the first place because we have a mental, emotional and intellectual aspect to our existence, unlike animals? Why would we be dragged down to be questioned, mocked and be accountable for it?
No matter if you are a president, a homemaker, a superstar, an academic, a surgeon or a clerk you should never be sorry for slacking off in life, for not always being your best and strongest self, for seeking help to recover from whatever you are going through.
We don’t need a generation of multitasker, innovators and all kinds of good-doers who only lack empathy and emotional intelligence. It should never matter if your family history of mental illness has put you in a more vulnerable position to fall for it, if you are in your teens/30’s or 60’s, if you are a male/female/transgender, it is completely fine to be going through mental health issues at any point in life and never feel guilty or accountable for having it in the first place. Seek all the help you need, break into pieces and grow back from it. And never be sorry for being human.
Syeda Maisha Samiha hails from Chittagong, Bangladesh. She is currently pursuing her undergrad at Macquarie University and based in Sydney, Australia. She is a traveler, an enthusiastic reader and aspires to be a professional travel blogger someday.