The Invisibility Cloak

by Vanisha Pandia

June 4, 2021

Mental Health is a fact and yet deemed to invisibility. It is seen as an element introduced by the millennial generation. It has always been a reality, the present discourse just brought it closer to consciousness. It is a reality figuring in our everyday lives. In the way we eat and clothe, drive and go numb? In our biggest of the steps, why do we go numb and fall back while moving ahead. In our small inhibition to converse, and in our irresistible urge to talk. In our fear of walking too fast and in our slumber of being still.

We need to question our deteriorating mental health. Its acknowledgement and more importantly its ignorance. In a complex scenario of societal cerebrate, we find ourselves searching for the origins. Let’s form a two-grid table of two very simple reactions towards mental health. One is of regrettable acknowledgement and another of blissful denial. Both come with their own set of socio-cultural backing and maintenance. We need to remove the invisibility cloak from the issue of mental illness.

One scenario is positioned in an unapologetic ignorance of mental disorders. It is one where negative reinforcement teaches the patient to hide their ‘quirk’ until they cannot. We are a generation born out of anxiousness, and one that’ll die in alienation.

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The other is stamped in an unforgiveness of the same. This occurs in cases where the disorder is more apparent in the fonts of appropriate social behavior. One of the most common referenced disorders like schizophrenia falls into this category.

Our mental health is a factor that makes-up who we are, but does not lay down what we’re worth!

This is not the kind of community living, several individuals strife for. This is not the world each one of us envision. It is not a matter of lack of inclusivity, it is a matter of invisible violence perpetrating the fabric of social and emotional construction.

This invisible violence through lack of acknowledgement or acceptance is an outcome of another cultural product, namely class difference. One’s background and economic foundations play a deciding factor in terms how life will be led by an individual. The amount of empathy is provided on the basis of what the invisibility of a person has to offer to society. An influential disable is worth all the tricks and manipulation for monetary gain and acquiring of power. A vulnerable mental condition is driven to its extent to suck out all it can avail.

Nature has a way to bring things in front of our wavering eyes, and rightly so, it does the same with our mental health displayed all over our apparel. Our clothing inscribes for us our way of living.

As exclaimed in life upto this stage, mental health is either denied any aspect of individual identity or is etched skin-deep into one. Is there an evolutionary development that nature consecrated us with, to survive a deteriorating mental condition? If not, has there been a social evolution to serve the same purpose?

The answer is No. The outcome is the dysmorphic picture of how mental health makes itself visible in our societal settings.

The most visually striking symptom of this societal dysmorphia is displayed on our clothes. It forms a cultural text, on which are written the plentiful experiences, struggles, delights and stories that bore our essence.

Talking in regard to the first scenario. The carefully concealed psychological condition spikes itself out in the form of what one wears and how they use it to protect themselves from the world. A person’s ‘style’ is not melancholic, they are not playing a part, it is instinctual. It’s a part of who they are.

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The other scenario displays the harshest reality of how clothes worn by a child, provided to them by their primary caregivers, conditions them to stay put. It is an armor to condition them into invisibility. It is an armor to protect the one’s around them. There is no way left to blaze out of hiddenness. To claim space and light, to leave behind one aspect of life to claim the whole being.

The clothes of convenience, is the term I’ll go with. It is left exclusively for the beings the society wants to discard. The convenient clothing is to make it convenient for others. This implies that the bane of community living, which is any form of discrimination on any basis, is also to serve the community.

An individuals’ or a community’s mental health is projected in the conventions of their culture. The interpretation of a deteriorating or a flourishing one is where the problem lies. The simple reason for a falsified reality and masked interpretation, is because our worth is measured in the form of cultural markers. It is a vicious loop where visibility of cultural markers serves to form a discriminatory culture.

The demand is to break the pattern and redesign without the edges that cut through our system, leaving it to bleed out what it considers non-useful. It’s time to break the oppressive patterns attached to mental disability.

Where worth is not decided with a capitalistic approach, where humans are not looked at as screws and nuts of a machine running on without a purpose. Where one has the liberty to choose. Where empathy becomes the garment of the society.

Ask yourself again. Are there any other markers of mental disability? Why are they so apparent in some cases and entirely invisible in others?

About the Author

Vanisha Pandia

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