I once had an ingrown toenail which got removed but kept coming back. So, I went to my foot doctor to treat it. As I was sitting on the reclined chair, he sprayed a saline solution, which numbed my toe and allowed him to work on it without causing me an ounce of pain. He finished his job, but I couldn’t wear my regular shoe, as my toe had swelled from the injection. And so, I was given a boot to wear for two days.

I was a bit embarrassed to wear such a clunky shoe, and was feeling quite apprehensive in anticipation for the comments that I would inevitably get, but I prepared myself mentally and felt like I could “greet” the many well wishes I would receive. I came into work feeling slightly embarrassed and anxious; I knew the comments were coming. And, as predicted, come they did! Now, you see, I probably wouldn’t inwardly groan from the care and concern, however, this experience was very different. It touched on a very raw and sensitive nerve that I wish I can directly express to them.

I wish I can talk freely to my colleagues about my mental health struggles. I wish I can express myself without fear of being judged or stigmatized. I wish I would get the same non-judgmental care as I would for a physical condition. I wish my boot and swollen toe would be treated like any mental disorder. Lastly, I wish I can talk about my mental health struggles as openly as I talk about my ingrown toenail.

I fervently hope that one day we will be talking about mental illness like any other physical health condition. One day mental illness will be regarded with the same care and respect that is given to physical conditions such as high blood pressure.