Living with severe depression is never an easy task. It is like rolling up a stone to the peak of a steep mountain. You have to put in a lot of effort and yet you might not achieve any result as the stone tends to fall back to the ground every now and then. All you can do is keep pushing, despite little to no hope or motivation. But the fight becomes even more difficult to conquer if you also have to carry the burden of social stigma around mental health issues. For me, the first step toward healing was to unlearn these very stigmas that left me feeling ashamed and inferior.
*Trigger warning: This article talks about self-harm and mental health issues in detail.
I have been struggling with severe depression, PTSD and OCD for more than a year now. Even though my fight has just started, I feel totally exhausted. The effort that is required to do basic tasks like combing my hair, getting out of bed, sleeping or eating drains out all the energy inside me. My mind and body are so numb that I spend my days doing mindless activities like sleeping, watching TV, scrolling social media or just lying down and having frequent blank outs. I have lost the power to understand anything, remember anything or plan anything out. My life seems like a running brook tearing trees, grounds and walls that try to control it. I have lost touch with my closest people and my dreams and aims have blurred out as if they never existed.
Before confessing about my issues, I was completely aware of the social stigmas around depression. Symptoms of depression affected my life years before I sought help. I was repressing my traumas, feelings and symptoms without recognising them. During the moments of emotional weakness, I became harsh on myself by self-harming and self-sabotaging. I thought depression is a facade and that everyone deals with it alone without any help. Moreover, I was afraid that no one will believe me if I shared my feelings. But after seeking help, I felt a relief that yes I took a stand for myself.
In my darkest moment, I realised that I need to be honest with my mind and body, no matter what people say or think. And so eventually I mustered the courage to speak about my mental health issues and seek help. After this, I thought I had conquered at least one battle of defeating social stigmas and choosing my mental well-being.
Suggested Reading: Mental Health Is As Important As Physical Health, Don’t Take It Lightly
While I have not conquered my issues altogether, I can go through my day now without simply sleeping it off. I push myself to wake up, do morning rituals and sit to work. I try to write as much as I can even though I am not able to work up to half of my potential. Many people may be able to relate to the journey that I have experienced.
How the stigma around depression is harmful
We chide ourselves for not being able to deal with pressure, take care of our family, do our jobs or take control of our lives, because social stigmas have conditioned us to see mental issues as barriers that keep us from functioning properly. As a result we end up internalising these believes, leading to denial. We push the idea of needing and seeking help. We tell ourselves we can wade through this mess by simply holding on tight, when in reality we need to shout out and take help without any inhibition.
Depression is as disabling and serious as any other physical illness. Now I have accepted that I am weak currently and I need love, patience and support. I have to take small steps, make small goals and be grateful for achieving them rather than comparing myself with my past or future self. I need to remember that I won’t lose my potential. If I achieved something before, I will achieve later also. I just need to wait and heal. Then, my struggle with depression might ease out a bit, although it won’t stop.
So, dear readers try to introspect and identify whether there is any form of stigma that is making your struggle with mental illness difficult. It is as much important to clear our own mindset of these notions as it is to clear the mindset of society. If we don’t unlearn the stigmas completely, we won’t be able to protect ourselves or change society. So as it is rightly said, the revolution begins at home, start your fight with mental illness by unlearning the negativities around it.
Views expressed are the author’s own.