My Tryst with Mental Health


MY mother tells me how it makes her happy when I take care of myself, comb my hair and dress up. It is because she has seen me doing none of this for years. Depression takes away from you the basic will to even do the mundane.

Even when we never quite talked about it, but both of us knew that I wasn’t just being lazy (which many people still jokingly call me at times), but there was something else consuming me all those months. And even when she and my father tried attributing it to quite a lot of things going wrong here and there, she was the only one who saw in my eyes a demon no parent ever wishes to see their child fighting.

I’ve gotten better — Alhamdulillah, in ways I never imagined. I am in a happy space for the most part. But I still have those days, when getting up in the morning is the hardest task and probably the only conscious decision I make for the day.

Since I am in hostel for most time of the year, I have the liberty to switch off without being answerable to anyone. But now that I am at home for over 6 months now, I have seen how my mother gets worried when she finds me all sunken and reluctant to do basic things.

I wish to explain to her that it is just a day or two, and I will be fine; a feeling that I explain with the colloquial, hojata hai na kabhi kabhi (it happens sometimes, right?). But we have never sit down to have discussions of this sort.

I have never sort medical help, which I truly wish I’d. So, to even call it clinical depression won’t be totally right. But I know that it wasn’t just a transient mood swing or a looming personal or professional pressure. It is way more than that and it has stayed with me; often changing forms, with varying triggers and strange discourses.

But I have learnt to deal with it better; taming-the-storm, they call it!

A lot of things and a lot of people, most of all my friends, have helped me through this and still are a big reason that keeps me going. What worked for me, and what I’ve understood works for everyone is having a safe place to go where we can open up, scream, weep, cry or disappear without the fear of being judged and where we never have to explain ourselves.

Indubitably, I have survived holding on to the kindness and empathy people showed me.

I got better through practice, mostly, by the realisation of how I was or am not the only person feeling this way, and then by the acceptance of the fact that even if I was the only person, it was still alright to feel this way.

I derived my sense of identity and existence from God (others definitely would have different sources), and gradually started focusing on thoughts that would all align in one direction with the core never changing. As the core of my thoughts, both positive and negative, became stagnant; I felt my life stabilising and it gradually became easier to control my mind and all the overwhelming responses therein.

I started to respond more and react less, and oftentimes broke down my responses later to make sense of where I could do better and how.

I have days when I lose direction again; when even hope looks dark. But on those days now, I remind myself that I will find my way back — till then, I rest.

I have always been someone who has asked people to come forward with their stories. But today I decided to be the first person to start this. I never thought that my experiences carried any weight because so many have it worse, when it comes to mental health. Fortunately, now I have realised that validating your trauma and pain is just another step towards healing — and quite an important one.

  • The author is a student of medicine

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