Mental health has emerged as an epidemic, engulfing the human race across gender and age groups. While there seems to be a significant rise in conversations which normalise the existence of mental health issues, the reasons why these issues take roots in a person are still not discussed as much as they should be. We still see mental health crisis as an illness which can be “cured” but not as something which can be prevented to an extent by lifestyle choices, both on a personal and social level. Often, it is a taboo to talk about things that affect our lives to such an extent that they lead to problems like depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. One such taboo is to be what our society calls a “quitter”. We don’t like people who quit; marriage, jobs, studies, you name it and we just abhor the quitter’s attitude. But do we realise what it may be costing a person, when we keep egging them to endure a struggle? When we shame them for wanting to quit for the sake of just being well?
- There has been a rise in awareness about mental health issues around the world in recent times.
- But a lot of issues which lead to mental health crisis remain a taboo.
- We still see the act of quitting as a sign of defeat, weakness and failure.
- Why can’t quitting be about choosing mental well-being over success and fame?
Do we realise what it may be costing a person, when we keep egging them to endure a struggle? When we shame them for wanting to quit for the sake of just being well?
There are only a select few virtues that have been glorified by our society, like endurance has been. Endurance is what makes men and women into heroes and legends; those worth worshipping. They never give up, battling one setback after another, undeterred by failure, never losing self-confidence and will power and ultimately emerging victorious in the challenge set in front of them. Is it a surprise then, that we set similar standards for ourselves and those around us? However, these ethereal standards were bound to bring us struggle. We see quitting as a sign of weakness and failure. This is why perhaps, no parent teaches their child to quit, no matter how hard the circumstances get for them. On most occasions this advice becomes a thumb’s rule in this big bad world, if you want to survive.
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Today I came across a tweet by Ellen Brennan in which she announced that she has been advised by her therapist to quit her PhD and why people should stop telling her to keep pushing for a little more while. “My therapist advised I quit my PhD – just 3 yrs have destroyed my health. Do not tell me it’s “only 5 yrs” or that I’m “almost there”. Do not make light of my experience b/c it has an end date. The damage won’t be suddenly gone when I get a PhD. Support me w/o belittling this.” Doesn’t this resonate with a lot of us? Aren’t we all told to endure hardships for the sake of fame, money or that coveted fairytale ending a little while longer? Persist, and you shall succeed. But then on sometimes the cost of this so-called success doesn’t seem worth paying. The damage such hardships or stress leaves on our minds has life ling repercussions on our mental health. So sometimes it is okay to quit.
At the end of the day, it is you who will have to live with your life choices, not those who enforced them on you one way or the other. The unrest and strain they bring , will affect your health, mental and physical.
It is okay to quit a job that is not working out for you, or a relationship that makes you unhappy. It is okay to quit a course if suddenly you feel; it is giving you an acute mental health crisis. Also, one should not feel afraid of quitting, just because it will bring criticism or shame their way. At the end of the day, it is you who will have to live with your life choices, not those who enforced them on you one way or the other. The unrest and strain they bring, will affect your health, mental and physical. Is all the pain, anxiety and restlessness you endure, worth the social acceptance that you seek by not quitting?
It is about time that we normalised quitting and see it as a more as an act of choosing happiness over success, fame or accomplishments. Choosing to be happy shouldn’t be looked down upon, and if we are shaming people for choosing a happier less complicated or stressful life, then isn’t something wrong with us, than those who make those choices?
Pic by: NewLoveTimes
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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.