Edited by Yara Alsayes
After the great success of Taht El-Sytara last year, Nelly Karim’s fans were expecting a lot from her series this year. As usual, she didn’t disappoint. Just like last year’s series, Suqout Horr sheds light on the suffering of a group of people that has been stigmatized by society.
This, of course, caused Social Media to be flooded with jokes about how Nelly Karim is “Nekadeya” and how everything she does is depressing.
While the topic is indeed depressing, it has to be. This is the reality of mental illness. Suqout Horr explores mental illness, and since the beginning of Ramadan this year, many fans commented on the series’ accuracy of portraying mental illness. This is an extremely important element in any work of art which chooses to tackle this issue, because society already has a lot of misconceptions about mental illness.
Still, everyone seems to be missing the point and focusing on how “depressing” Nelly Karim is. When in fact, it isn’t her that’s depressing, it’s the reality of anyone suffering from mental illness in Egypt. When we say mental illness is stigmatized in Egypt, it isn’t an understatement. In Egypt, someone who chooses to see a psychiatrist or psychologist is immediately considered irrational and unstable; the word “crazy” can be thrown about as if it’s a clinical term. Until this day, many people still refer to psychiatrists and psychologists as “crazy doctors”. Suqout Horr portrayed this quite nicely. A fine example of that is Selim’s friend asked him to try psychological help and he felt offended and said that he won’t go to “doctor maganeen”.
It’s interesting to see those reactions, because although some of those sarcastic reactions existed last year, they weren’t as common. Could it be that drugs are seen as a bigger issue than mental illness? Can the stigma against mental illness let people turn a blind eye to the suffering the mentally ill go through? This stigma hinders many people from seeking professional psychological help when they in fact need it. Furthermore, they carry the burden of hiding their anxieties even from their family and friends whose judgements, most of the time, won’t be less harsh than that of society. As if this stigma wasn’t enough, psychological counseling is perceived as a luxury because mental illness is not perceived as serious as physical diseases. Malak hiding the fact that she was seeing a psychiatrist from her family is something that many people with mental illness go through.
These misconceptions about psychological help open the door for pseudo-science. Practices that are not medically sound, but are, unfortunately, more accepted than psychological treatment, spread like wildfire thanks to that.
The real problem with mental illness is that a patient feels that they don’t understand what is going on with their own mind and body. One can only imagine how hard this is, and it lasts for months or even years. What really helps, beside professional counseling, is acceptance and support. Things might have been less depressing in Soqout Horr had Malak received proper support from her family, but unfortunately Nelly’s series are only depressing because they show us what reality truly looks like.