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A Deep Discussion: From Romanticizing Mental Illness to Self-Harming Sensation

28 Feb 20 | 18:28

Amelia Rosary

A Deep Discussion: From Romanticizing Mental Illness to Self-Harming Sensation

Last Wednesday, 26 February 2020, we had a very exciting topic to discuss in IDN Times’ event called “Be Aware of Your Mental Health”. When other events would really end at 09:00 PM, this one ended at 09:30 PM because the audience gave such striking enthusiasm. 

As we always knew, mental illness was something very popular lately―many people showed their sympathy and even empathy towards those people with just any kind of mental disorder. However, some people would self-diagnose or even romanticize the illness itself. A teenager undergoing a stressful life for the past 2 months, for example, might say that she/he had that a problem with her/his mental health. It didn’t work like that, really.

Sri Juwita K, M.Psi explained, “Having stressful situation is something inevitable and that’s normal. When you read an article about mental illness, don’t draw a conclusion too soon because the science of mental health is definitely that broad and you can’t judge only from one aspect or perspective. There are 3 steps that we can do to diagnose whether or not we have that mental illness: observation, interview, and psychological test. These 3 steps need to be done by a professional in the subject.”

Asked about the most intriguing trigger that might cause someone to suffer from a certain mental illness, Juwita revealed that in most cases, “A series of complex trauma as a child grows up is the one factor that mostly matters. Starting from the verbal one, physical, to sexual one. It takes a lot of courage to survive, at last. Having supporting figures who stand by us is one of the medicines. Well, we may find quarrels, emotions in our family, for example, but it can be an answer to our hunger and loneliness. As long as the communication between each member goes well, we can conquer the insecurity together.” 

However, it doesn’t mean that having supporting figures to talk to is the only way out to get recovery. Hana Madness, as a mental illness survivor and activist, said, “Indonesia doesn’t institutionalize art as one of the medications of mental illness. I’ve been to some other countries and I’ve seen the fact that they have a very proper place for those people with mental illness to express whatever in their mind is in art, like drawing, writing.” With sufficient supervision and caring attention, we wouldn’t end up doing self-harms or even suicide-attempts.

To know further about self-harms and suicide-attempts, Juwita raised her voice in front of the millennials attending the community event of IDN Times about the sensation her patients mostly shared with her, “There’ll be an explosion of anger. It hurts inside so much, but the pain is invisible―she/he doesn’t see what’s hurting. It’s better for them to really see the source of the pain, so this is why they cut their hands, let’s say, and if it still doesn’t feel right, they’ll do more than just cutting: they kill themselves. To avoid this, I suggest 4A strategies: alter, adapt, avoid, and accept. Alter is changing your response to a stressor, adapt means positively fitting yourself in with a stressful situation around you, avoid is to keep the distance from a possible stressor, while accept is understanding that it can’t be changed and that you can handle it.”

Having a support system accepting us whatever we might be, instead of covering up our weaknesses was one of the ways to get out of the storm inside our mind. Remember that each of us worth appreciating and taking care of: there must be somebody out there loving us―we would never be alone. 

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