An email arrived in my mailbox alerting me to the fact that 3rd December is “International Day of Persons with Disabilities”. I somehow scoffed at this because in my mind, society has not yet caught up with what I believe is the real disability crippling people, families and teams today.
Most people will tell you that when they think of disabilities, they think of those who have physical disabilities – the blind, the deaf, people who are in wheelchairs etc. Yet I am of the opinion that the biggest ‘disability’ facing most of us today is a mental one.
The world we live in has become a tough place. It’s a harsh cruel, ever-changing environment and unless you have your wits about you, it will eat you alive and spit you out. But then again, who does have their wits about them? Who is on top of things? Who’s coping? Not many in my opinion…
When I consider my family, my friends and my colleagues, majority of them do not know if they are coming or going. The levels of stress that are in each of our lives is massive and for most, just getting through the day is a challenge.
I work with colleagues who are too afraid to admit they are not coping. They would rather drown and have no work life balance than ask for help. I find it particularly difficult to watch single mothers battle the way they do. I find it tough to see executives in high positions struggling to lead. At this time of year, stats show that 1 in 5 matriculants think about suicide when writing their final exams.
Worse of all is that I find my own family members thinking they are all alone in this world with problems and issues as big as mountains on their shoulders and ready to quit. *cries*
The levels of stress that we are constantly under and the pressure on us to perform and cope are enormous. People (and their families) living with mental illnesses, such as depression, is an incredibly painful burden to bear and the strain is enormous. It can affect a person’s ability to work, form relationships, and destroy their quality of life.
Ironically, it’s much easier and acceptable to tell people you are blind, than admit that you are not coping. I don’t think that society has moved into a place where people will put up their hands and readily admit to needing help. And it’s especially difficult in the corporate sector where you will be labelled and considered weak and incompetent if you do. The stigma is career-limiting so people are reluctant to admit they have a problem.
Mental illness may take on many forms, and is far more prevalent in our society than we may care to admit. However, many people lack concrete knowledge about it. It gets swept under the carpet. Ignored.