Updated: Dec 20, 2021
Fear and shame amid depression are even more lethal than depression alone.
“I have a dentist’s appointment today”
“I need to get my eyes checked”
“I need to see my therapist again… I have a few things to discuss”
The last sentence is something that you barely hear people say, or maybe never. Because, In India, it’s completely normal to see a doctor for a health check-up, but, it’s a great deal of shame if you mention a psychologist or a psychiatrist.
We, Indians, feel that mental illness is something that only weak or courageless people face, which eventually questions our ego and self-respect. And upon mentioning to see a psychiatrist, society labels you as “mentally disabled” having a defect in the brain. And so, somehow, we have become great believers of positive thinking. And it really bothers me because it’s like telling a person dying of a heart attack that "your heart is completely fine, just think positively!"
Mental health in this age and time is just like a new common cold. A person going through depression may not even know that he/she is going through something like that. And people who have been depressed before may know, that no one likes to accept that he/she is depressed. Just like a thief will never accept that he has committed a theft. But when he realises the same, it makes him think that he is weak which leads to internal confusion. And the most terrifying of all is that they are burdened with shame at the thought of what others will think. Shame and fear make up a lethal combination when it comes to making people suffer and cover up their mental issues.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the entire Globe has locked themselves up in their homes for safety. Unavoidable changes took place, people started working from home, taking classes from home, and then slowly, started closing themselves from the world. Video calls with friends became normal calls and then once in a day or two texting. Somewhere or the other, we started finding comfort staying at home, and now, don’t want to step out of that comfort zone.
Depressed people don’t shuffle around with a long face, or cry at any provocation. Instead, they look stronger on the outside than they would be from the inside. Being depressed is losing interest in the important parts of life. And just like any other disease, it comes with it different and unique set of symptoms such as;
Not wanting to step out of your room
Eating or sleeping too much or too little
Feeling better and more confident/happy when you are alone.
Stop taking care of yourself and having low or no energy
You cut yourself off from society and don’t want to talk to anyone.
Feeling numb or like nothing matters and having frequent mood swings
Recently, a hasty and insensitive discussion on mental illness has been going on which was not thoroughly researched through. And in my view, it has been worsening matters for those facing similar issues. Instead of shining a light on mental health, the ongoing debate on social media platforms will more likely put the fear and shame back into those who have mental health concerns. The underlying message that these social media posts unintentionally convey is that the person with mental illness is dommed, or mentally exhausted person is likely to take an extreme step sooner or later.
The issue about depression is that sadly it’s being treated like a fad, something that is very short-lived. People need to understand the point that we are not educated enough about mental illness and shouldn’t come up with our own solutions/prescriptions for the same. People don’t want to believe that they can look at themselves with vulnerability.
Just by saying, we are now a forward-thinking country, doesn’t make us one. The mark of a fair and evolved society, the one that can let go of backward thinking, is best indicated by how they treat the most fragile link instead of viewing how they treat the strong and fittest. It is high time that we, Indians, start taking an open, balanced and sympathetic approach to matters of the mind and things that may affect it.
If you think, that by stepping out and volunteering to go to a counsellor, you are basically giving society a topic to gossip about, then think this too, that if this mental illness eats you up, then will this emotionless, brainless society matter more or your close ones?