The blog designs were done. The first article too. Neatly done. The language lover in me felt quite self-smug about the crispness and clarity of content put forth in a calm, collected third person voice. Two more days to the launch. Things were going great.
Then out of nowhere and on a completely unrelated ground an old friend decided to pay me a visit. Mr. Panic Attack. Lying amidst raging anxiety, agony, cold sweats drenching clothes and breathless with tachycardia (let’s simply put it as a landslide-like dropping BP and fluctuating pulse rate) for full fourteen hours, blogs and everything else became my last concern. After hours of support from trusted fellow-survivor-friends and my professional mental health caregiver as calm returned way late into the night, I lay there asking myself what good is a crisp, coherent blogpost presented in a calm, collected third person voice?? To anyone going through such a struggle? Life Force has Its strange ways to turn a nightmare of a panic attack into a breaking dawn of an epiphany hour.
Tossed the article in the trashcan. Began anew. This time (and every time now on) it would be me talking to You. In first person. Real, tangible, human voice of a fellow survivor who is extending her hand and her countless years of closely understanding and walking the path of Mental Health issues and awareness, struggles and stigma – all of it – so that you could understand your Mind better and without any fear, shame or self-judgment walk right out of that dark closet of silent suffering going on for years.
Do these ring a bell?
– I feel so blue all the time.
– Oh, but you have a perfect life! Cheer up!
– Am so anxious. What if I. .
– Stop thinking so much! Just chill.
– I just don’t feel like holding or feeding my baby. Feeling so numb.
– What Is wrong with you?! What kind of a mother says that about her newborn??
– Am cracking up. Want to end it all.
– Yeah right! <rolling eyes>
Quick dismissals, a no-big-deal smile, rabid judgments and heaps of invisible sticky-notes labelled ‘crazy’, ‘mad’, ‘mentally ill’, ‘insane’ and so on – something almost all of us are well acquainted with – either with ourselves as the subject or one or more of our close ones going through an mental rough patch.
The issue of mental health, not just in India and other developing countries, but allegedly even some of the important first world, developed nations, often and endlessly churn out stigma or an ignorant indifference towards people struggling with their minds – at times even leading to unwitting, unfortunate fatality. Long ignored anxiety building up to a burn out and complete nervous collapse – chronic depression long overlooked as unreasonable sadness leading to sudden silent suicides – or attempts – All this and more could be avoided if only we were more open and aware.
In 2013 Mental Health Organisation, UK, in a survey found 8.2 million anxiety cases recorded in UK. 6233 suicides cases, by age 15 or above.* In 2005, a survey by National Commission of Macroeconomics and Health, India, recorded 5% Indian population suffering from depression and anxiety.** WHO in 2011 declared 11.6% Indians suffering from depression and in 2014 the number revised to 20%.*** In a most recent study by Government of India declared 50% of corporate India suffering from chronic depression, stress and suicidal tendencies.^ The exponentially increasing rate of recognised mental health strugglers is alarming.
Time we did away with the stigma that is nothing short of stupidity. Let go the taboo and closet suffering. And for this what is needed foremost is Awareness. And Awareness, like all good things, begin at home. And the very First Home one has is Oneself. Hence Mental Health Awareness too needs to begin within ourselves first – only then it has a chance of further flowing out to others around us. The very first Mind that needs to be aware and free of stigma is of anyone who struggles and daily survives Mental Health issues. If we want the world to stop heaping unjustified labels and provide an environment of dignity and compassion to people struggling with mental health issues, then it is we who have to first give that to ourselves – within our own heads. Minus any self-judgment. Minus denial. Minus all the justifications we often hold onto out of fear and shame, screaming in silence behind closed doors.
May is the Mental Health Awareness Month. This month, this newly launched blog is a dedication to one and all who have ever silently walked on the edge with any and every mental struggle.
We’ll bring you regular neuropsychiatric/psychotherapy topics, awareness articles, lifestyle and Mind-style tips and Interesting Mind Facts.
For long millions have suffered in silence. Let none, no more.
Take care, dear Mind.
Author & © Nivedita Dey, 2016
** Burden of Disease in India; National Commission of Macroeconomics and Health, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, New Delhi, September 2005
***Mental Health Atlas, Dept of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, WHO, 2011