We talk about a lot of things daily. We talk about everything under the sun. We talk about having a fever, a cough, a cold or even a broken leg.
But how many of us talk about broken minds?
Everyone wants to be healthy. When I use the word ‘healthy’ I mean it in all ways. Yes. Mental health also belongs to the ‘healthy’ category. When I say this, I can hear a lot of people asking me questions like, “Is that really important?”
But let me tell you something: Yes, an illness can snuff out a life. But do you know what a mental illness can do? It does the same thing. There is a slight difference though. This time you take your own life. Let me give this a name. A name called ‘suicide.’
Yes. You heard it right. It is a scary word, isn't it? A word that you don’t care so much about. A word called ‘suicide'. It is an important word. More important that you think it may be. It is said to be the leading cause of death in the world. Every 5 minutes, one person somewhere in the world commits or attempts to commit suicide. India has the highest number of suicide cases every year. If we look into the ‘why’ aspect of it, we will understand that such people are affected by several problems. We can group all these problems and say that the ‘mental health’ of the person was disturbed. It may not necessarily be a mental illness. At some point, their mental health was not dealt with properly. Why should this be surprising? But I’ll tell you something which is really surprising.
Even you are contributing to this in some way. How? By being insensitive. By belittling the problems of another person.
People are not aware of these issues and this wreaks havoc in their lives. You don’t mind talking about a fever. Even your family does not mind talking about it. But when you are affected by a mental illness, the scenario is different.
The whole world goes silent around you.
The social stigma attached to this has created a highly negative impact on people suffering from such mental illnesses. It is a taboo.
They face social isolation. People look at them like as if they are zombies. And medicines? They become another issue. People say that these medicines are like ‘slow poison.’
You don’t know how it feels because you have never had a mental illness. So you will never know what it feels like to be living with one. Imagine someone telling you constantly, “You are horrible. You are useless. You look disgusting.” You would want to kill that person, wouldn’t you?
What if this happens to you but you can’t see the person. What happens when your own head talks to you like this? What will you do when it talks to you like this every time? You can’t go to sleep. You can’t concentrate. What can you do?
That’s when people take their own lives. So that these voices can stop talking to them. The causes for these illnesses are never clearly specified. But the impact of life events plays a huge role. Among all the illnesses, the most underrated one is ‘depression.’ Why? Because it has become a slang now. “I had such a bad day. I am so depressed.” This is the kind of language that we use now. Please, depression is a mental illness that needs serious attention, help and care. It is not necessary to feel sad in order to categorize this illness as depression.
But sometimes, or most of the times, it is the inability to feel any emotion. Even sadness.
It is a constant feeling of drowning, emptiness and hollowness. So, don’t tell a person who is diagnosed with depression that even you were feeling depressed yesterday and that good food cured it. It is not something a box of chocolates or a big mug of coffee can cure. Your brain is not working properly and you need medication to fix that. Antidepressants can save lives.
Don’t add to anyone’s depression by making them feel guilty about it or by saying that "happiness is a choice." Yes. It is a choice but not when you are depressed. Sometimes, nothing works. Not even the tablets.
Nobody wants to experience such things. Nobody does it on purpose. It is an illness that comes to you like any other illness.
Depression also has friends like anxiety and this can worsen the situation. Depression tells you not to care or feel for anything. Anxiety tells you to care and feel for things that don’t even exist.
I want to say this to all the people living in our society - a person can never function according to your expectations.
This includes family and friends. These expectations tell them to isolate themselves all the more from people. Nothing else. This is very common and can lead to suicide if left untreated. That is why it is important to seek help. How can I empathize so well? Let me tell you a secret. I too suffer from depression. Can psychology students be depressed? Yes, any human being with a normal body can get depressed.
We are all emotional human beings and none of us has godly powers.
Stop saying things like "I am feeling depressed today" very casually once and for all. If you know someone who is facing some kind of mental issues, please be there for them. Listen. Empathize. Don’t sympathize. Understand that no problem is less serious. You may not be able to cure the illness of a person. But you can save lives for sure.