Ode to the bravery of those who struggle

On Mental Health Awareness Week [10 to 16 May 2021]

Those who get out of bed because they were told they have to. Those who valiantly argue with themselves to get dressed. Those who hover above the bathroom sink undecided about brushing their teeth. Those who expertly convince their mind it will be worth it. Those who don’t manage to. Those who consider returning to bed. Those who return to bed — fully dressed. Those who have had several arguments with people that are not there by 8 a.m. Those that have revisited their past and their future many times over before they even stepped outside. Those who grasp their coffee with fervor as they would a rosary. Those surprised by the sound of their voice greeting others. Those who hear others respond with the cruel ”.

Those whose sole existence requires the involvement of strangers with affected medical titles, herbal and chemical remedies and the whole Amazon self-help books section. Those who find themselves at the mercy of pharmaceutical companies like orphans abandoned by a careless Government to evil nuns. Or more like laboratory rats sacrificed on the altar of Those who know psychologists stopped taking insurance when mental health services officially became yet another privilege for the rich. Those that have no choice but to self-medicate with ice cream, crack cocaine, amazon deliveries or heroine. The many who overdose. Those whose necrology is carefully edited by their loved ones.

Those who could open a free mental health clinic just with the unsolicited advice they got from friends and colleagues. Those who are shamed for their mood. Those who are always ready to ”. Those who already tried everything. Those who endure the shallow New York Times articles on how ”, ayahuasca or ecstasy is the solution. Those who were told a little too often by people that obviously do not even know what their own problem is. Those who get antsy when asked how they are doing these days by their family.

Those who know about psych wards and jails. Those who snapped once, more than once or know they could snap anytime. Those who know there are chambers in the mind nobody should visit. Chambers people never come back from. Those who know that living is a daily decision. Those who look at the crazy hat lady on the subway platform with both dread and sympathy. Those that liked or too much

Those whose heroism is never celebrated because their daily victories are only on themselves. Those who endure the command by strangers to ” when not crying was already their gift to them. Those for whom every day is a mental health Paralympics. Those who — when their head hits the pillow — are relived they managed to do it but terrified tomorrow they might not.

This is my ode to you. The brave ones that struggle. As the spring sun finally appears, plant a long chair somewhere and bask in the glory of your triumph. Nobody appreciates and deserves life more than you do. Your battle matters, I promise you.



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Fabrice Houdart

Fabrice Houdart

Fabrice is on the Board of Outright Action International. Previously he was an officer at the UN Human Rights Office and World Bank