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World Mental Health Day and my realizations

             World Mental Health Day

I have been reading newspapers every day for the last five years.

Its quite old school to read a newspaper these days, especially in the era of social media, but that’s how I am.

So every morning, with my cup of coffee, I sit with my paper; it informs me about the world: what’s keeping politicians busy, what’s our celebrities and film-stars are up to, what’s the hot topic of the day, what’s happening on social media and hell lot of other stuff.

Every morning, the ritual repeats and repeats and repeats.

Today was no exception likewise. I woke up and aroused from my bed by 6 am, and the first thing in my hand was my newspaper.

These days I am reading The Hindu – the newspaper of UPSC aspirants. I have no dreams of pursuing civil services though, yet this paper captivates me.

Its non-sensational, matter-of-fact voice keeps me going. This morning, however, I noticed something unusual.

Flipping through its pages, I glanced over an advertisement sitting quietly at the last corner of the newspaper’s last page.

The advertisement was not by any usual advertiser, but by The Hindu itself. Among a sea of text, the ad featured a curve that resembled a smile.

For more information on mental health, you can visit HNN 24X7

The newspaper ad

“A smile is considered the universal symbol of joy,” the ad read. I agreed. What’s more joyous than smiling with no care in the world. “It’s your birthday.

You smile.

You receive a promotion.

You smile.

You see a familiar face in the crowd of strangers.

You smile,” the ad continued. I was also smiling reading this ad about a smile.

“Smile pops up when your mom makes your favorite dish.

A smile makes an appearance when somebody plays a tune you are fond of,” the ad read.

Something was so joyous about this ad, its words, and its lines.

“There is no ambiguity with a smile. It means only one thing. Happiness,” the ad concluded.

 World Mental Health Day

Smile – A Symbol of Happiness

After reading this sweet, little ad, I thought nobody else could have praised a smile more beautifully than the copywriter who had written these lines.

I thought a smile is the best thing in the world. It symbolizes humanity at its best: happy and smiling.

But I would like to admit that this ad fooled me. Yes, I was fooled. The ad told me that smile always represents humanity at its happiest.

It’s wrong. Smile also sometimes represents humanity at its saddest, melancholic best.

Smile – A Mask

Let me put things in context first.

The ad I am talking about had two paragraphs with a curve resembling a smile.

The paragraphs above the curve praised smile incessantly. But there was one more paragraph, written upside down, below the curve of a smile.

“But for somebody suffering from a mental illness, the smile is not always that,” the second paragraph of the ad declared. I was shocked.

What else smile can be? “Smile is a mask that covers darkness beneath. It is a bandage over perpetual anxiety.

It is a feeble straw that depression clutches on to. It is an attempt to belong. It is a fight against the fear of being ostracised,” the ad continued.

Smile is an escape from being branded a sad person: this line from the ad shook my conscience.

I suddenly realized that smile is sometimes a MASK. I many-a-time unconsciously used smile to hide away my sadness, but I never really realized that I was doing that.

Or sometimes my friends or my family members might have hidden their pains and sorrow by wearing a smile on their faces. It’s a tragic realization.

“So listen to your friends and loved ones close. Hear they out even when they are speaking in murmurs.

Lend a shoulder when you sense discomfort, something they have become experts at hiding.

Empathize,” the ad appealed. “Because it’s only when you look at it from a different perspective that you realize that a smile sometimes isn’t a smile at all,” the ad finally concluded.

My Realisation

When I went to the office after an hour or two, my colleague informed me of today’s World Mental Health Day.

I was asked to write an article on it, and the only thing I could think about was the hard-hitting ad I read in the morning.

The realization that my friends or my family members might be sad, but their smiles will deceive me.

A smile can sometimes hinder us from reaching out to our closed ones. It’s thus an important realization.

Just because a person is smiling, it does not mean he can’t be sad. Sometimes smiling faces hide away the heaviest sadness.

 

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