Reflection: “I avoided facing my mental illness for decades. The pandemic changed that”

By Pratama Naufal Nanda

Original Article :

Jaquira Díaz has written a very interesting piece that tells the story of her fighting mental illness which she had suffered for several years, and now finding solutions to her problem, while others are still troubled with the issues of the pandemic.

The narrative, published in the official page, has several elements that make a good feature story which can be described as fulfilling the requirements needed in writing a feature of human interest nature.

One of these elements is the style of writing presented in the article. The author narrates the story in a figurative writing style that it is able to trigger reader’s imagination to reflect on what the writer meant.

In addition, the plot presented is easy to understand with a forward style that the reader would not have difficulty to distinguish between past and present stories. The elements conveyed have made this article interesting to look at.

The author begins her writing by telling her past story about her worst experiences which can be said as the disturbing nightmares in her life. The expression on feelings of depression and the setting of the atmosphere that the author builds at the beginning creates an element that touches a person’s heart and inspires empathy in everyone who reads it. This is what is meant by the human interest element that can be cited from this article.

At the beginning of the story, this writer uses a narrative lead which creates an atmosphere that the reader could feel immersed as if he or she who reads it would regard oneself as the main character.

The lead reads, ”Several years ago, when I was in my mid-20s, after suffering from major depressive disorder and anxiety for most of my life, I found myself at the emergency room during an episode of substance-induced psychosis. My father and stepmother found me, at the very beginning of the episode, having paranoid delusions. Someone had tried to poison me and now they were coming, I told them. ‘Do not answer the door.'”

The sentence leaves a suspense that can make the reader become curious and wonder what will happen to the continuation of the story.

Even in the following paragraphs the writer still builds the atmosphere when the feeling of depression comes to the writer, what she felt and what the feeling is like. She recounted all the things and details she felt, enough to make the reader dumbfounded.

Also, Díaz as the author is also the main character pouring her heart into every paragraph listed in the article. Moreover, in paragraphs 7 and 8, she even includes the question “Am I alive?” written many times to add a dark impression to the story. 

Furthermore, the author also revealed interesting facts related to women and the pandemic, such as:

A January 2021 report by the National Women’s Law Center has found that in the U.S., women’s labor-force participation rate is 57%, on par with the rate in 1988. Approximately 40% of women over 20 have been without work for six months or longer, with white women’s unemployment rate at 5.1%, while Asian women saw a rate of 7.9%, Black women saw a rate of 8.5%, and Latinas saw a rate of 8.8%. And women who were forced to leave their jobs to care for their children—who are now at home because of COVID-19 school closures—are not officially counted as “unemployed.”

This series of facts really support the discussion raised by the author. Several numerals and percentages confirm the numbers that do occur in the current situation. These inclusions are really needed in feature writing. Even though the feature itself is a light reading, unlike stiff news, but the inclusion of facts and figures is very necessary to satisfy the reader so that reading it does not only give elements of entertainment but also education.

In addition, the author reveals a study by CARE which found the fact that the pandemic has caused a crisis in women’s mental health and also that access to the quality health care services they need has become increasingly difficult during the pandemic. CARE is mentioned as a non-profit organisation that fights global poverty.

Once again the author states a fact in the form of valid research to support her story. This aims to reinforce her position as a woman who is affected by the ongoing pandemic. This also builds a sense of empathy in the reader’s mind to comprehend the difficulties the writer is faced with which she intends to convey.

Another interesting objective from this article is the information conveyed about aspects of life and the harshness faced by women during the pandemic.

This article discusses thoroughly through a storytelling style which basically inspires readers, especially women, not to give up on circumstances faced by them, but to look for positive aspects that can be extracted from the life of every human being, as revealed by the author below:

“I grew up poor, and that meant that as a teenager, when I first started showing symptoms of major depressive disorder, my family couldn’t afford treatment. It was never an option. During the pandemic, when so many people have lost their jobs, their homes, their health insurance, I’ve been lucky: even though I lost most of my income, I’ve still been able to work from home. I don’t have children to care for. I can still afford weekly therapy. I was able to pay for an international flight, leave the U.S. for six, seven, eight months at a time. Most women are not this privileged.”

Overall, the story written by Díaz has a deep meaning, especially for all women in the world; that mental illness must be fought to reduce its impact. This article is interesting and very appropriate to be published during this difficult times so as to inspire readers to rise from adversity.***

(This article is written as part of individual assignment series for Feature Writing class)

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