In this episode of ‘Pocket Shala’, produced by our collaborators, Hidden Pockets, Brindaa Lakshmi is in conversation with Ratnaboli Ray, the founder of Anjali Mental Health Rights Organisation, talking about the lives of people grappling with Psychosocial Disabilities.
According to Ratnaboli, people suffering from psychosocial disabilities are often sidelined. Also, surrounding them is the question raised about their capability to do what a ‘normal’ person can. This kind of doubt is carried on to the sexual lives of these people as well, whether it is concerning masturbation, for which people end up being punished, or heterosexual relationships being paraded as the only norm even in institutionalized enclosures for those with psychosocial disabilities, or even while finding a sexual partner.
What we see is that people who disclose their history of mental illnesses to the sexual partner stand a greater chance of being abandoned by them. It is at this point that we understand how problematic the stigmatization of mental illnesses becomes, when a person’s primal desire fails to be fulfilled owing to the stigma. It is also seen that problems with sexual performance are normalized among people with psychosocial disabilities – the two are considered to occur hand in hand. Therefore, Ratnaboli says, it is only through destigmatization of a mental illness, which needs as much care as a physical illness, can we hope to change the narrative of the lives of people living with such disabilities.
Written by Anagha Bharadwaj.