Posted by Priyanka Singh
Overwhelmed as I was, I decided to break the news to my parents in a most abrupt fashion – over a phone call. Perhaps the channel of communication wasn’t the most appropriate. I now lament as they shunned it and attributed my case of generalised anxiety, social anxiety, and depression to overthinking and not being able to lose the extra fat I haven’t been able to exterminate due to laziness or sheer ignorance.
It had been a few months since my depression turned graver and anxiety, which I believe I was born with, peaked and implored me to seek professional help. So, when I decided to see a psychiatrist, I was desperate to get out of this zone of listlessness and absolute mental and emotional chaos. After the session was over, I was put on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills. I don’t think I have slept well in the last 12 months, ever since I moved to Bangalore. It wasn’t a thunderclap to hear from a professional that I was depressed. I knew it well enough and my main aim was to get the pills so that I could at the least control the physical manifestation of these issues and keep traversing through life. This phone call to my father was an attempt to create an honest relationship with him, even though we have never been close.
It had been a few months since my depression turned graver and anxiety, which I believe I was born with, peaked and implored me to seek professional help.
But this particular aspect of my life, I wished, rather chose not to hide from the only people whose validation still matters the most to the child in me. At the same time, my flatmate and a close friend, whose parents were visiting, decided to break the news of her condition, depression so grave that it has given birth to severe anxiety and panic attacks. What ensued was a commotion, a horrifying amalgamation of disbelief, disappointment, and perhaps, betrayal and downright banishment of all the nurturing they had provided to their beloved, ‘strong’ daughter. As for my mother, she ignored the terms I threw around, terms she didn’t quite accept as part of her vocabulary, terms that would make her uncomfortable to the point that she would rather choose denial and ignorance over accepting that her child betrayed her by being ‘mentally sick’. So, the two of us, me and my friend, in our furtive late-night conversations, just sat in our balcony and shared this epic loneliness, that no one, not even our parents or partners could really comprehend the depth of our misery.
Also read: Reading About Van Gogh And Recovering From A Depressive Episode
It is no news that we, as a society, have stigmatised mental disorders to the hilt, so much so that coming to terms with the reality of things becomes a task so arduous that we would rather avert our gaze, look for reasons that are not the cause but the effect of one’s existential or trauma-induced anguish. The source remains unexplored. The source can remain undisclosed. It must remain untouched. I constantly took note of how our parents wriggled at the thought of grappling with the fact that their children might be going through something they don’t quite understand.
when I decided to see a psychiatrist, I was desperate to get out of this zone of listlessness and absolute mental and emotional chaos.
They would resort to anything but acceptance of this particular diagnosis from the mind doctor. It would be better if we were afflicted by some physical form of illness because that can be fixed. There are doctors for that, it is a ‘real’ problem. There is ‘real’, physical pain and medication would take care of that. But this term ‘depression’ is nothing but us, their oversensitive children, overthinking and not having our priorities right. Or not being able to take care of ourselves, not being responsible, not being as physically active as we should be, not thinking about our future, not thinking about what the world would say.
Also read: It’s About Time Indians Learnt To Normalise Mental Health
Things got worse when we declared that we are quitting our jobs and planning to take some time off to rehabilitate ourselves, rejuvenate our soif de vivre, maybe create some art – an attempt to give ourselves another chance to view life differently, and lift our souls even if that feels like an impossible task at the moment. Then there are a few lucky ones whose parents, even though heartbroken hearing about their child’s emotional and mental agony, support them, or at least try to lend a helping hand, encouraging them to seek help. The rest of us are left disheartened, misunderstood and uninspired. We may be able to come out of it sooner or later, but our journey is betrothed with a sinking heart and an aching mind.
Here’s a message from a troubled child to her parents, who she wishes, just tried to understand.
Dear mother, I get it
I am not perfect, an overthinker
Visited by an intruder, night after night
An insatiable beast, it’s not even afraid of the sunlight
You watered me, made me who I am
Good and bad, a function of the past
I stumble through life, plummeting every now and then
You didn’t see me when I slept for sixteen hours straight
A heavy head, an aching back
A sinking heart, a muddled state
A vision of the past keeps flashing as I close my eyes
I can’t explain, but I shall try… (Read the whole poem here)
Priyanka is an unfulfilled engineer and an MBA graduate from IIM Indore. She is a writer in making, interested in carving the world through her biased lens, painting pictures with heavy imagery and highlighting the mundane, often ignored, but essential aspects of life. You can follow her on Instagram and LinkedIn
Featured Image Source: The Wave