Thought Catalog

Ignorance Isn’t Bliss Anymore

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people uniting
Luke Ellis-Craven

In today’s society with the issue of inequality running rampart across all continents, should ignorance really stay blissful or should we begin to tackle this issue more seriously? Due to recent experience I believe change should be implemented now more than ever.

When you are pleading your case to ignorant people it is difficult not to take their judgment personally due to their often uneducated responses. Having a mental illness, which is the focal point of the ignorance I experience, means you are bound to make contact with people who won’t understand how it feels to not always have control over the inner workings of your mind.

I was in an environment that I at first believed to be heaven sent, but this is where I was wrong. I like to maintain a positive outlook on life to the best of my ability and thankfully despite the trauma and monumental trust issues this experience has given me, having taken time, I can now see it for what it truly is. An opportunity to make a difference to better my own life and the lives of those around me.

It made me realize my purpose to set an example for all mentally ill individuals and when coming in to contact with others who have never experienced or understand the reality of our lives, we all become examples. We shouldn’t waste the opportunity to bring about change.

Ignorance is not always, but mostly juxtaposed directly with fear. A lack of understanding is usually due to being too afraid to take the time to ask the difficult questions and endure the uncomfortable conversations that come associated with them. But I am here to tell you that mental illness isn’t something to be afraid of, and we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it.

Unfortunately my situation at the time kept me from being honest because those involved were too afraid of my mental illnesses and so I learnt to keep my emotions to myself, faking happiness everyday. I wanted those around me to be happy and comfortable but I sacrificed my own happiness and comfort to do this. That was, until I reached a pivotal moment and couldn’t keep up the façade any longer. Without going into too much detail, I was not proud of losing my composure but I am also accepting of the situation and understanding why it happened that way.

But because of this, I was met with mixed responses. While mostly supportive and understanding, I was also met with ignorance that not only deeply hurt me, it also made me feel betrayed. I believed myself to be a bad person, when I was only misunderstood in the specific circumstance.. This is a feeling many, whether mentally ill, a person of colour or someone of a different sexuality experience everyday. I can’t imagine how it would be to feel how I felt that day, so often.

In today’s society, ignorance is a disease. It is infecting everyone around us and instead of tackling the situation head on, we surrender to what isn’t ethical or kind. Whether it be ignorance directed toward mental illness, religion, race or sexuality – our default setting is to sit comfortably in our fear, treating others as if they’re wrong because they’re different.

I was hurt by my experience of ignorance and have spent time rebuilding the wreckage I became and sorting through the rubble that was left behind. But fortunately I can now see an opportunity to change people’s opinions and save others from experiencing cruelty like I did, so the names I was called and wrongdoing I was unfairly accused of no longer haunts me.

If we all decided to stand our ground alongside the ignorance that is upsetting so many of those around us, I truly believe more would feel as if they need to educate themselves on what we feel and experience that makes us different. Making ignorance something of the past someday.

I am always honest in admitting I suffer from mental health issues and I take medication and precautions to stay in control as possible in order to improve my quality of life and the quality of life of those around me. Neither things I am ashamed of. Regardless, not everyone I meet is going to treat me kindly or support me through the harder times I face. And this is okay. Because when those times arise I become an example and due to my strength I set a good one. I am not unstable, manipulative or unkind.

I am brave, strong and determined and I know my illness better than anyone, so it would be ludicrous to take someone’s opinion to heart when it is my illness and not theirs to experience. You wouldn’t take an English teacher seriously if they were suddenly teaching you Japanese and you knew they didn’t speak the language. We shouldn’t take someone’s opinion to heart when they haven’t faced scrutiny for something they have little to no control over.

I would like to acknowledge the people who met with me ignorance instead of understanding and treated me wrongly, as acceptance and acknowledgement is the first step in creating change. I hope one day you find it within yourselves to ask the appropriate questions and not sit comfortably in your fear of what you are not familiar with and are afraid will cause you harm. But I forgive you. I hope all of you reading this learn to forgive the people who have treated you wrongly because of something that makes up a minor part of you, and isn’t who you are.

The ignorant often have their own issues, and we must meet their troubles with understanding too, hoping one day they will be transformed because of them. For the better. If we want to be surrounded by more understanding people, we must become understanding people ourselves.

When you are met with ignorance, instead of taking it personally and becoming upset, transform the situation into an opportunity to educate. Tell the racists that kindness requires a lot less effort than hatred and alert the bigots that love is love regardless of the genders involved. I am here to tell you I am not always understood but I am kind and creative and I will happily answer any of your questions or concerns.

May you have the strength and respect to ask them before you judge me. May you also recognize the positive qualities in yourself despite your illness, race, sexuality or religion and rely on those qualities to change the minds of those who don’t understand, setting a positive example for the people who come before you and will come long after you’re gone.

Ignorance isn’t key, and it shouldn’t stay comfortable. There should be no place for ignorance here. Ignorance is not bliss. TC mark

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