Curls, clouds and code

A blog by Corstian BoermanCorstian Boerman (self portrait)

Zombification of the mentally ill

Corstian Boerman
Corstian Boerman
Reading time: 2 minutes

Ever since my mental health started deteriorating I have been pestered by this well-meant though totally useless advice to get more physically active. This argument comes about in several different forms. At times implying I should pick up a sport, that I should work more, or a slightly harder. Perhaps my favourite one is the suggestion I have too much free time on my hands, insinuating depression or other mental illnesses find a cause in overthinking.

I'd argue that those asserting such opinion not only don't understand, but they themselves lack a fundamental insight into their emotional being. These people seem oblivious to the existence of an emotional aspect to the brain. Within their conscious experience they are seemingly only capable of distinguishing between the body and the brain. Herein the brain is considered a totally rational system, an assertion which can be maintained up until the point the brain starts breaking down.

It would be foolish to expect any real understanding or support from people fostering this view. Up until they start to understand themselves, they will not be equipped to acknowledge the impact of a mental illness. Additionally I'd argue that before they can understand themselves, they must have to go through similar difficulties, or they will continue to live in ignorance.

While this lack of understanding fundamentally is a problem of the individual, it seems to be widespread enough to have become a societal issue. For most identity and self-worth is tightly associated with their participation in the rat race and their successes therein. In this context those in a position to neglect their emotional well-being have a significant short-term advantage over those painfully aware about their own existence. It's no wonder that this previously described attitude can be recognized on a much larger scale in our western society.

Statements like this are not about those dealing with mental health issues as much as they are about those carrying views like this. It's those dealing with a fragile mental health whom are perfectly aware about their inner world, contrary to those neglecting their emotional well-being. For those whom are still living in blissful ignorance it seems like a mirroring of their inability to connect with their feelings, therefore their statements becoming a mirroring of their self-preservation mechanisms.

It's this general attitude which results in something I'd describe as the "zombification of the mentally ill", being characterized by the imposed expectation to ignore ones own needs in favour of the machine.


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- Corstian