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Academic Psychiatry

, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 865–866 | Cite as

‘Tis Easier

  • Martin Mayer
Feature: Poetry and Other Creative Works

Artist Statement

For unclear reasons, depression seems to remain a topic of discomfort for many. This unfortunate reality often contributes to many who struggle with depression feeling as though they cannot be transparent with others about their illness, and this contributes to the vicious cycle of their plight. Adding insult to injury, it seems there is still a fundamental misunderstanding of depression—at least among some—regarding the fact that depression is not something someone can simply “snap out of” or remedy himself/herself of with great ease. Perhaps it is this misunderstanding and unfamiliarity concerning what depression really is that contributes to the aforementioned discomfort some still seem to have. And to be sure, these observations are not limited to depression per se; indeed, they seem to apply in various ways to mental illness in general.

Societal views of and approaches to mental illness have come a long way in the past several decades, and this laudable advance should not be downplayed in any way. Nevertheless, we still have much work to do as we work toward the fullest realization of empathy possible. In particular, it seems we could—and should—be more comfortable talking about mental illness and mental and emotional well-being, regardless of whether that conversation includes or does not include someone who has mental illness. Additionally, while we certainly want those who are suffering to work diligently toward reaching a better place mentally and emotionally, we also need to accept the reality that there is often no quick remedy to being in that space. For many, mental illness is something that is managed, not cured.

The poem that follows is written from the perspective of the person struggling. Its pessimistic tone is deliberate, but importantly, it is not an indicator of an irrevocably negative state. Having or developing a mental illness does not portend an invariable or inexorable decline into a helpless or hopeless state. Instead, the poem’s pessimistic tone is offered to allow us an opportunity to reflect on the above issues (and others) through the lens of a person who is currently struggling a great deal—that is, the very person who would greatly benefit from the unmistakable empathy and support of others who are “in his/her corner” to help him/her “fight” for mental health. If we make such exercises a routine practice, our appreciation for the difficulties faced by those with mental illness—and even other illnesses or hardships—stands to increase exponentially. In turn, we would clearly be getting closer to the fullest realization of empathy possible, and with that may come a culture where “the façade” can fade, and we can instead face, embrace, and work toward improving our realities as much as possible. This would not only help clinicians offer better care, but more globally, it may help us better support one another, regardless of the presence or absence of mental illness.

Poem

‘Tis easier

To offer the façade

Lips drawn, ends upturned

Eyes narrowed, teeth slightly borne

For there seems no expression

No countenance, no visage

Which can portray

The truth without consequence

Honesty is admired

Unless it is inconvenient

Unless it is grueling

Unless it is glum

‘Tis easier

To feign normalcy,

Contentment, and even happiness

All the while suffering—deeply—the lie.

And should you dare try

To simply be

Be honest, be candid, just be

You learn quickly the unacceptability

Others rush to provide feckless remedy

Fueled by the blessing of ignorance

Tired niceties

Or the coup of their own deception

Be their actions genuine or compulsory

Ineffective all the same

But ‘tis easier than engaging

To simply conjure the façade

We are so willing to accept

The pleasant façade

That one needn’t do much

To perfect the con

And though conflicted

By offering such dishonest reassurance

It is what’s accepted, expected

Desired

‘Tis easier

To offer the façade

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Not applicable.

Ethical Considerations

Not applicable.

Conflict of interest

The author states that there is no conflict of interest

Copyright information

© Academic Psychiatry 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Innovations and Evidence-Based Medicine Development, EBSCO HealthIpswichUSA

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