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I knew that the sick man who filled up notebooks with grandiose ideas and inventions in cramped illegible handwriting was not the same man who sang Bollywood songs from the 1950s and 1960s, his angelic voice rising clear and deep, when he was well.

I knew that celebrities, such as Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd, had been geniuses that struggled with the disease. The world had definitely changed since I was a child growing up in the eighties. Within the Pakistani-Muslim community in the United States, the attitudes towards mental illness have remained as negative as ever.

I would never hide from anything that made her who she was.

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I felt a sudden, dizzying rush of emotions: gratitude, fear, but most of all, love.

I was shaken but I knew that no matter what may come, I would accept her and love her.

After my father passed away in his sleep almost seven years ago, part of me thought we were finally free of the stigma, finally free of fear, finally free of the isolation we often felt.

After all, he had died as the proud owner of a beautiful little house with a lemon tree in the backyard.

It was an illness like cancer or heart disease, part of their genetic makeup but one that may never emerge.

But there was another side of me, born of culture, bred in secrets that held on to the stigma that mental illness retained in my society. ” So I watched them covertly, looking for signs, overanalyzing every misplaced laugh or spacey stare out the car window.

She tells me about all the wonderful things in the world,” she said. He makes me see red.” My heart suddenly stopped as I looked up from my book. ” I asked her, attempting to keep my own voice neutral even as a dull thudding sensation began to spread from my temples to the back of my neck.

My husband, who came in behind her, quickly walked over to me.

Among the uneducated or superstitious, mental illness is a supernatural affliction, possibly from djinn possession.

Wear a blessed For the educated, mental disorders are considered a real illness but nonetheless shameful, indicating a feebleness of mind and self-control. We don’t want to marry into that family, their genes are bad.

We weren’t allowed to use the words paagal, or its English translation, for any reason in our house.

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