#Personal Stories

How My Own Family and Friends Make a Mockery of My Mental Health

women and property ownership, stigma around depression, feminism, Mental Health Is Important, Homesickness In COVID-19

Trigger Warning: I can still see the mark of the knife on my wrist, deep enough to fathom my sadness. It hurts and pushes me back to the dark days of vulnerability, depression and anxiety. It was not an act that just appeared out of nowhere. It was a long drawn thought floating in my mind for days.

The moment I picked up the knife, I assumed that the end was near. And as the knife deepened its claws in my wrist, tears rolled down my check out of pain, loss and regret. But I was saved by my mother. Was I lucky? I don’t know. But I definitely didn’t expect what came next. “Why are you doing something like this?” “What do you lack?” “What could possibly make you unhappy when you are so fulfilled?”

These questions were raised by people across my private circle. Everyone reminded me about the number of degrees I have earned, the job that pays me and the healthy body that allows me to do whatever I want to do. But these reminders were not helpful in any way. Rather they made me obnoxious considering the degree of ignorance towards the battle that I was fighting inside.

Yes, I have degrees, a job, shelter and privileged life. But does that mean I don’t have the right to be unhappy? Does that mean I should shut down my emotions and live under gratitude towards my privileges? Is someone noticing this mental health situation has nothing to do with my privilege?

Why can’t society look beyond what is visible? Why don’t they see the emptiness that lies underneath the canvas of a fulfilled life? Why is expecting love and support biased and dependent upon the caste, class and eligibility of a person?

I am not alone in this grave ignorance towards the mental health of apparently happy people. When the famous Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput ended his life by suicide, my ears were filled with the news anchors’ voices shouting that why would Rajput do something like that. Their constant assertions made suicide a crime and Rajput a mannequin with a smile sculptured on the face forever. Even when Deepika Padukone opened up about her sufferings due to depression, she was criticised for staging a gimmick. But what no one understood is the fact that fame, education and bank balance doesn’t automatically erase the possibility of a person being sad, depressed and traumatised about something. Traumas and sadness do not have a lens to screen who is more eligible to experience them. They are emotions that can pervade both the brightest room and the leaking roof.

The problem is that society is used to measuring the worth of a person on the basis of their bank balance.

No one wants to look at the struggle that goes behind or along with it. For example, even though I have completed Masters in my favourite subject and work at a feminist organisation, I couldn’t muster the courage to speak up against the multiple instances of sexual harassment I faced in life. I couldn’t save my sister from being roped in the trauma of sexual harassment. I couldn’t stop my father from abusing my mother when I knew it is completely wrong. I couldn’t stop a girl child from being turned into a bride in front of my eyes. I couldn’t stop my ex-partner from gaslighting me about the non-existence of mental health issues. Because neither were all these bearable nor easy to stop.

Similarly, every person, irrespective of class, caste, has traumas, struggles, failures and fears to cry about. Just because a person belongs to a well to do family, it doesn’t mean they can’t feel upset and lonely. And just because a person belongs to a lower class and is expected to spend every minute in hard work, doesn’t mean they can’t sit and cry. By undermining their emotions society is only increasing the coldness of loneliness and depression that most people are facing today. It is time we understand the value of mental health, how widespread the issues of mental health are and how as a society we can heal many with enough support and empathy.

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