BREAK THE SHACKLES OF STIGMA

Updated: Apr 5

“It’s all in your mind.” “You are just tired, rest and you will be okay in a few days.” “Have a strong will, it’s because you have a weak mind.”

All of us have heard these statements countless times when we tried to come out and seek help for what we were feeling deep inside.

Mental illness is the mental condition of a person which is unhealthy for his physical as well as emotional health and affects his/her behaviour and daily life. As of now, 450 million people, that is, one in every four people suffers from mental illness, globally. A study reported by WHO for National Care for Medical Health states that India has the highest number of people suffering from depression in the world, followed by China and the

USA.


Mental illness is not regarded or perceived as a real illness by so many people in the Indian society and perhaps, for that reason so many people don’t even realize that they are suffering from something real or even if they realize, they don’t accept it because what most of us have seen the behaviour of people around us indicating that it’s something that is not real or something that doesn’t exist, that ‘it’s all only in the mind’.


Most of us fail to realize that mental illness is real and that even if it is in the mind, our mind is a very important part of our body. We need to accept ourselves, accept our suffering and give importance to ourselves.


The sad part is, a lot of us realize this only when we have fallen really deep inside it. I myself got to know about mental illness, its different types and got more knowledge about it long after I had fallen deep in the dark pit and had hit rock bottom.


One half of us try to manage our problems strictly by ourselves and sometimes bury it so that it goes away for a while, not realizing that it makes us heavy internally. By avoiding these problems and our emotions, we digging our own holes, without even knowing. I did so too, not realizing that asking for help was normal, not changing the fact that I was independent. It does not mean that you are not strong or responsible enough to solve your problems and handle your emotions. It simply means that you are learning about different ways of how you can manage yourself just like you paint out different colours on a canvas to see what looks the best. While the other half prioritizes other peoples’ problems or happiness above their own not paying attention to themselves. We need to pay heed to ourselves because if don’t have any resources for a happy and healthy life for ourselves, how will we help others? We need to create healthy boundaries for a stable mental health and by doing that we will not only be helping ourselves, but will also help others. If you don’t know what happiness feels like, how will you make others happy? We end up loving others and caring about others to such a large extent that we forget to love ourselves.


In our society, we often get discouraged when we ask for help with mental illnesses, let alone visiting a psychologist or a psychiatrist. It is extremely difficult and unusual for us to visit professionals because we have always been told that if we don’t think about the negative sides and focus on the positive side we would be fine. There is so much stigma spread about mental illness that it makes it very difficult to come out of it even after realizing that you are suffering from something serious. Just because the symptoms cannot exactly be seen physically like when we have fever, does not mean that mental illness is not severe or a real illness or that does not require treatment.


Mental illness causes physical illnesses too. It causes fatigue, low blood pressure, ulcers and so many other physically visible problems. Often, we don’t realize that our mental health can affect our physical health and even a qualified doctor may fail at curing the physical effects if our mental health remains in the drains. There is very little awareness regarding mental health, no importance is given to such an important aspect of our body and our life almost as if it does not exist. Mental illnesses are still considered to be a taboo in our society. There is so much ignorance and unawareness that words like depression, anxiety, panic attacks, etc. seem to be foreign words. People fail to understand that it is something real and serious that has to be taken care of, by a professional. When mental health is not taken care of, it affects our physical health to no bounds.


We need to break the stigma. We need to normalize depression and other mental illnesses. We need to accept them and know that they can be severe. We need to go for therapy and take medications, if need be. Very often, people suffering from mental illnesses are not even aware about it only because they have always been ignorant towards the existence of such illnesses.


Mental illness is dealt with so much negligence that offices or educational institutes don’t even grant leave or other permissions for the mental health of the employee or student even after he/she submits letters and medical reports from psychiatrists, while just a note by his/her mother saying that he/she had fever is enough for these institutes to grant permissions.


It is time that we start spreading education about mental health right from school and deal with it as civilized, literate people and work towards normalizing it. It is time that we ask for help from professionals who can actually help. Being in therapy for 2 years and after changing 2 psychologists, I really feel that therapy helps when you find the right professional. We often lose our strength while explaining our feelings to others. However, we must remember that it is our life and there is no option to give up because if we weren’t strong enough to fight this, we wouldn’t have had been here. There are times when it may seem as if the entire world is falling apart, but you still choose to seal your lips with a smile. There are times when the only morsel you swallow is that of anxiety and depression. There are times when your skin turns cold, your body feels numb, your eyes refuse to close, your heart feels heavy by bearing the weight of your thoughts and beats slow, and yet you feel hollow. There are times when your legs don’t guide your way and you feel that happiness had walked miles away. In all these times, you will need yourself by your side, to tell yourself that life doesn’t end this way and this too shall pass.

Our life is worth infinite chances, even if it’s only the last chance that helps. No number of chances are enough for you to give up. There is hope always. There are people who support you and love you. Be proud of how far you have come. You have survived till now and you will survive this, along with all the things that are to come. Hold on to yourself. Trust me, it gets better, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now. There is hope always. You have all the strength that is required to come out of this even if you have found your comfort in this state now.

There is poetry inside you that you are yet to find.

You will heal.

You make this world a better place to live in.

You matter.

You are enough.

Mahika Solanki

-  Instagram handle: @oenomel_zephyr


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