Reflective Essay On Mental Illness

1235 Words5 Pages
Faced with the overwhelming stigma that surrounds mental illness, we have spent the semester learning how to break down doorways into the lives of characters who have struggled with their mental health. Far too often have these doors been kept bolted shut. As a consequence of public fear and lack of understanding, the people behind these doors -- individuals with mental illnesses -- have been given no choice but to struggle in silence. In reading various works throughout the semester, we have been able to begin to challenge the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Trying to gain understanding, we have not only opened doorways, but we have begun to construct empathic tunnels between our own lives and the unfamiliar universes of characters with mental illness.
Reading the novels throughout this class sometimes made me uncomfortable, usually hurt my heart, and always made me ask questions -- and I think that’s the whole point. The novels we read gave voices to people who felt like they did not have a voice, because they had been silenced for so long. Refracted through various time periods and genres, the novels we read provided insight into the progression of mental illness throughout decades, namely into how mental illness is regarded by the public. Maybe we don’t treat people exactly like how the unnamed narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper” was treated anymore, and maybe we have a better understanding of mental illness now than we did during Edna St. Vincent Millay’s time,
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