Types of Modern Day Leprosy:
- ANXIETY & DEPRESSION
Somewhere along my path to finding the right one to marry, I had soaked in the idea that I'd need to carefully consider my relationships with people who deal with anxiety and depression because those are hard things to deal with and we knew several people whose marriages seemed to fall apart over those things. *Sigh* I fortunately got married to a winner in more ways than one, but let's fast forward to the point in time where I developed hypothyroidism and had anxiety and depression as related symptoms: the cultural message turned on ME. I suddenly became the proverbial and potentially harming factor in my own marriage relationship. Because of my negative perception regarding depression and anxiety, I felt that I was unworthy of love.
- MENTAL ILLNESS
People are so afraid of mental illness and understand so little about it that they'll often try to deny it exists. I overheard a man speaking about his family member who had died tragically in a drug overdose. He made it clear that no mental illnesses of any sort ran in the family. Not trying to judge harshly, but it's not typically a usual event for an overdose after prolonged drug use to have no connection to the individual needing a mental health outlet, right? Technically an OD could happen without other related factors but this was not the case. Are we the kind of society that lives in denial about what we deal with inside until it's unfortunately way too late? Are we so conditioned to being out of touch with reality that we can't even talk about mental illnesses and identify how to help others or help ourselves? I often wonder if it is a worse form of "mental illness" to believe wholeheartedly that it doesn't exist in your own family or in yourself than to openly embrace and accept it when it does.
- BEING DIFFERENT
We read about people with leprosy who historically have had to live in colonies. I could be wrong but I believe they were as feared for WHY they were different as much as whether or not what was different about them would rub off onto others.
As a teacher today, being different is celebrated in classrooms. It's even pretty well accepted as second nature by most kids to embrace differences. But outside of that environment--both in adult life and online, being different seems to be feared. Differences are used to polarize and vilify the opposite groups into usually faulty "good-guy/bad-guy" stereotypes. People will often unintentionally or intentionally cyber bully others as a reaction to not understanding something they hadn't considered before or first. We feel that we can't hear someone else's perspective because it might change what we think we know or have been so sure of our entire lives. In a very real way for the day and age we live in, being around or getting along with people who are different than we are is as difficult for us now as knowing how to deal with leprosy used to be.
It's really sad to me the way that we treat each other's as humans when we feel threatened by the things we do not yet understand including depression and anxiety, other mental illnesses, and fearing what it means to be different instead of coexisting in healthy and kind ways. We no longer live in ancient times where it was acceptable for people to battle to the death for sport or isolate others physically as a common practice but aren't we just as barbaric if we do this to each other emotionally?
We've got to learn how to live and let live, and that includes accepting ourselves when there's something new about us that we've never understood before. We're doing better than before but a Modern Day Leprosy still exists and the only way we can get past it is to understand what we're doing to others and ourselves.