This month, as May is designated as Mental Health Awareness Month, is very special for me because of personal reasons. Last year, this same time, I had hit the lowest point when it came to my mental health. On surface my life seemed perfect. I had a job that I loved and a caring family by my side. But on microscopic level, there were deep cracks, both new and old. Can anyone in this world say that their life is perfect, despite having all the wealth, love, beauty and popularity possible to attain? Then how could a working from home mommy?
I was struggling with depression and I refused to acknowledge that for months. I lived in denial because I saw it as a weakness. I had sailed through many rough times in my life. Why was I struggling now, with issues many might not even categorise as problems? It kept getting worse and I kept pushing it back. Till it cracked the dam of my resistance and became so overwhelming, I lost all the control over my emotions. I was crying every second I was alone. I was crying myself to bed, I was crying when I was in bathroom and I was crying even while working. Then one day, I caught myself crying while driving, stuck in traffic, with my vision so blurry from all the tears, that I could barely navigate the cross roads. I couldn’t even recall when I had begun to cry and why! That was when I knew I had to seek help.
The first question my therapist asked was, “How can I help you?” And that was all it took, for that dam to collapse completely. I was disarmed yet grateful, like an exhausted and wounded warrior, who had been captured by enemies and shown mercy.
I remember going to my first session of therapy; my eyes sore, a deep endless pit in my abdomen and a weight so heavy on my chest, it felt it would crush my heart to mulch. The first question my therapist asked was, “How can I help you?” And that was all it took, for that dam to collapse completely. I was disarmed yet grateful, like an exhausted and wounded warrior, who had been captured by enemies and shown mercy. I cried again, long and so hard that it was difficult to breathe. And the words begin to pour out amidst my tears, incoherent at first and lucid later.
But this wasn’t where my struggle ended. Many people do not understand that mental healing is a gradual process. Like physical bruises, mental wounds take their own sweet time to heal. The only credit I would take here is that I was persistent. I continued with my therapy, despite each session leaving me drained and craving for a stiff drink and some greasy food. I indulged sometimes, but managed to exert self-control mostly, as turning into an alcoholic or gaining more pound on my body wasn’t the solution.
Many people do not understand that mental healing is a gradual process. Like physical bruises, mental wounds take their own sweet time to heal.
It was months before I could sit through a session without crying, and then the process of healing began. It turned out that therapy wasn’t about finding solutions to my problems but gaining strength and stamina to be able to deal with them on my own. Now that I am near the end of this journey, I feel stronger, happier and grateful. Have my issues resolved? Hardly, but I have learned to live with them and prioritise happiness and count my blessings. The struggle is far from over, but such is life and it must go one.
Why am I writing this today though? Because. I feel that acknowledging your recovery is as important as acknowledging your problems. A WHO report says that in India an estimated 57 million people are affected by depression. This is 18% of the global estimate. It is largely preventable and treatable, but due to the stigma around mental health issues in our country, numerous people choose to suffer in silence rather than acknowledge it and seek help. The minute you tell someone that you are feeling low the first question they ask is “why?” Little do people understand that there is no parameter for feeling low. Your life doesn’t have to be riddled with challenges or tragedies to justify your depression.
A WHO report says that in India an estimated 57 million people are affected by depression. This is 18% of the global estimate.
In 2015, actor Deepika Padukone revealed that she was dealing with anxiety and depression. She said, “The most common reaction is, ‘How can you be depressed? You have everything going for you. You are the supposed number one heroine and have a plush home, car, movies… What else do you want?’ It’s not about what you have or don’t have. People talk about physical fitness, but mental health is equally important. I see people suffering, and their families feel a sense of shame about it, which doesn’t help. One needs support and understanding.” So that shame and confusion over “why” you are feeling depressed, while there seems to be nothing wrong with your life to others, keeps you from taking help.
Despite knowing that my friends and peers will read this and be alarmed, as I seldom discuss my problems so openly, I am writing this to encourage people to initiate healing. It is you who has to take that first step and seek help, who must shed inhibitions about mental health problems, or what people around you will say, because, frankly they don’t matter. Besides, you do not owe anyone any justification. Those who love you truly will stand by you and it is for them that you must give life and happiness a chance.
Feature Image Credit: NY Times
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.
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