We, as a society, have formulated some rules, the exceptions to which are not acceptable. One such rule is to repeatedly negate the idea that man, sometimes, can be afflicted by psychological disorders without actually being crazy or mad. A direct consequence of visiting a psychologist or consulting a psychiatrist is the awarding of these titles. It is looked down upon and discouraged to such an extent that the already distressed lot is persecuted with taunts and name-calling. Hardly anyone is willing to understand the extent of insanity they are going through and instead conveniently label them stupid.

Worst comes to worst, almost every disoriented psychological state is linked with enchantment by djinns, and the sole solution presented by our wise elders is to marry off the subject to an undemanding spouse who would magically deracinate all fears from that person. What such miserable people need are not tolerant better-halves but specialised and well-trained psychologists and psychiatrists. We must not focus on procreating mentally people as a direct consequence of such marriages; rather we should lay stress on taking effective measures so that they could be given proper treatment and, if required, medication.

Most of us take frequent, excessive hand washing as a state of madness. Checking to see if a door is locked at night and not sleeping without washing every single piece of dishware are eyed as craziness by family members. Ordering one’s possessions in a certain way, difficulty in finishing tasks because of reiterating actions, and asking for repeated reassurances might irritate one’s friends to such an extent that they start calling their own fellow a maniac. Nail biting, skin picking and hair pulling are thought of as some dirty habits of a lunatic. What society may fail to realise is the severity of the psychological disorder a person with these symptoms has. All of the aforementioned are symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a condition people usually do not know about or mistakenly confuse with senseless meshugaas. We observe some or all of these symptoms in our acquaintances or immediate family but simply brush off the idea of our beloved being mad. Being a psychopath is not insanity and, therefore, should not be equated with the latter. These are treatable or, at least, manageable psychological disorders similar to the diseases suffered by the rest of our body. What these patients need to hear are not sympathetic phrases and/or ridiculing, judgmental statements. They actually want their issues to be addresses by someone who could rewire their brain because they suffer from the same agony and frustration as any other person wracked with physical pain.

To illustrate a much clearer picture, let us all envisage a young school-going lad Abdullah who has two friends Bashir and Shabir. From playing cricket and sharing food to doing homework and wandering in streets like hooligans, Abdullah trusts no one but them. His family equally cherishes their friendship and often asks Abdullah to invite them over to his place. But the only reply they get to hear every single time is that their parents do not allow them to visit anyone’s home. Years pass and everything seems to be absolutely normal. The twist in the tale occurs when Abdullah does not return home one evening and his parents start searching for their b and his friends. It is later revealed that Abdullah is, in fact, a dejected student who always sits alone and has been observed talking to himself all the time. Furthermore, no one knows anything about Bashir and Shabir. Upon his return, Abdullah is exhaustively inquired by his parents after which they deduce that Abdullah has been jinxed by a fiend supernatural being. This marks the official initiations of punctual visits to several necromancers, babas and peers and exploitation in the name of black magic and alleged possession by genies. Abdullah’s parents leave him alone with babas so that they could disenchant him properly. Little do they know that they may actually be depriving the innocent young boy of his innocence owing to their paedophilic interests, or a variety of other forms of physical or emotional abuse. Moreover, the money being spent on this procedure makes the whole family gravely indebted. However, Abdullah is actually suffering from schizophrenia, a treatable psychotic disorder which renders the diseased unable to distinguish between reality and imagination, and the symptoms of which include withdrawal from social contract, hallucinations and delusions? Are we willing to give equal or lesser amounts of money to a qualified psychiatrist so that the patient can receive proper treatment rather than being beaten, raped, drugged or even killed?

There is one psychological disorder in particular which is taken for granted the most – depression. We laugh it off and reduce its apparent importance as if it is nothing but a collection of momentary failures to maintain a composed and sane state of mind. It must not be forgotten, however, that despite being excessively common it is a serious mood disorder. This apparently general frame of mind can acquire different forms depending on the time of its onset and the duration for which it lasts. Losing interest in hobbies, fatigue, irritability, feelings of hopelessness, and thoughts of contemplating suicide should not be perceived as the height of pessimism. Loss of appetite and rapid changes in weight can sometimes be something more than part of a diet plan. These all are various, but only a few, signs and symptoms of depression. By all accounts, I have successfully declared 99% of our population as patients of one or another mental illness. Be that as it may, there is no harm in looking for medical care and therapy and feeling healthy all over again. Being forgetful of the fundamental right to be wrong and the associated ignorance and arrogance are the actual killing agents.

I know that many of us are fully convinced to treat these derangements by offering prayers and prostrating with full faith in Allah, or visiting church regularly and seeking help from Jesus, resorting to yoga, etc. I agree that the above-mentioned forms of meditation as prescribed by different religions and ideologies do help people in going beyond the limits of mind and experience our vital nature, but what about post-meditation awareness of your surroundings that stands as the biggest obstacle in achieving the defined goals?

Sometimes one has done enough of staying quiet. Sometimes you actually want to be listened to. Sometimes you just want a person sitting right next to you to be a good listener with whom you could share all your frights, concerns, happenings and mishaps. Sometimes the solution lies not in keeping mouth shut but in yelling and blurting out everything that has been burning you from the inside and killing you slowly day by day. It is high time that we addressed the psychological issues being faced by our countrymen; otherwise, no one would soon be able to clear any psychological test and we all will inevitably become preys to our own complexes and trepidations.