A subject I have always been curious about was demon possession. Growing up, I did believe that it was a real thing, and that terrified me. The fear worsened when I started dealing with mental illness. If you google search ‘demon possession and mental illness’ you get a mass of information from religious establishments trying to prove that possession is real. Or they have a laundry list of how to tell the difference between demon possession and mental illness.
It’s scary because just up until recently we have acknowledged that mental illness is a problem that needs to be taken seriously. Could you imagine living with bipolar disorder or Schizophrenia in the 19th century? You would lead a very difficult life. I reflect on this because it absolutely terrifies me. It’s one of the few irrational fears that I have. If I lived with the mental illness that I have during the 19th century, I could have been put into a mental institution, and went through horrible ‘treatments’.
My mind goes back to ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This short story was written in 1892, and is worth your time. It is reflects on the perspective of women at that time; especially when it comes to mental health. The woman in the story is, obviously, dealing with a mental illness and her husband insists on bed rest. The woman’s state of mind is worsened by having to stay in this room during the summer. Could you imagine? Being made to lay in bed for months at a time?
I know with my depression, I have to keep busy. If I don’t, my mind will stray. This is dangerous because I can easily start thinking about everything that is wrong with me, how I’m a ‘failure’, how I’m ‘worthless’,etc. Then I spiral down the hole that is depression. This can lead to suicidal thoughts, mood swings, or even the will to live. On my worst days, I can’t get out of bed; I literally can’t do anything.
We can’t fall into these times again. We need to keep battling this stigma on mental illness. We can’t blame it on ‘demon possession’ or it’s a ‘woman’s issue’. We have to be rational thinkers. We can’t blame what we don’t understand on something supernatural. We can’t blame it on one of the minorities of our society. I hope we never back track this far. I hope we never grasp for ignorance instead of rationality again.