Desi, Chill, and Mentally Ill is a mental health podcast hosted by Shreyasi Bose. Shreyasi, who has ADHD, Borderline Personality Disorder, and anxiety, started this podcast to talk about her experiences of navigating mental health in India, managing a full time job while being mentally ill, and dealing with the labels that often have stigma attached to them.
The podcast discusses things like how patriarchy and other oppressive systems affect our mental health, psychiatric medication, the importance of having strong support systems, exhaustion caused by mental illnesses, and relationships when you’re mentally ill. Each episode is around ten minutes in length and features the host—Shreyasi—talking about a theme in a stream of consciousness, the unscripted format of the podcast is particularly admirable. A structure might appeal to some, but to listen to someone talk about super relatable things without a script is a better, a more authentic experience for me.
The podcast talks about desi doctors and the ordeal of judgemental tones, insensitivity, misdiagnosis, and overmedication that you’re likely to face if you decide to see them. Doctors are probably the biggest deterrent in getting mental health care in India. Male doctors have a tendency to project ideas about womanhood onto their patients. The sexism and bias in psychiatry make it harder for neurodivergent women to get a diagnosis. They are more likely to be misdiagnosed with personality disorders like Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorders. But our mental health is more important than insensitive doctors and we should choose doctors who listen to us, and we get to ask them questions and have second opinions because it is our journey and we get to have a say in it.
The episode I found most relatable was about neurodivergent hyperfocus, hyperfixations, and special interests. Hyperfocus is associated with ADHD. People with ADHD can block everything around them when they are engaging in activities that they find really interesting. I am autistic. I have special interests and hyperfixations. Autistic special interests are things we are passionate about and invest a lot of time pursuing. They are a form of coping mechanism and feel therapeutic. I love reading. I can easily read a thousand pages a day consistently without a distraction. But I have a hard time studying ten pages. This inability to do things that our brains don’t find stimulating leads to neurodivergent people struggling at school and work. But we are not lazy. We are different. And we should not be judged by capitalist ideas of productivity.
Another episode that resonated with me is where this podcast talks about the importance of boundaries. It should be a basic thing that we all get to set the boundaries we are comfortable with. But it is a lot harder when you are marginalised, neurodivergent, or/and mentally ill. Even with people you love. Particularly with people you love. Earlier this year, I read The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, a romance featuring an autistic protagonist. At one point in the story, she goes to a club with her crush even though she knew the crowd and the noise would overwhelm her because of sensory issues that autistic people have. She ends up having a meltdown.
And when I was reading that part, I so wanted her not to do things she knew were triggering for her. My favorite moment from the book is when she decides that she will set boundaries and not do things that make her uncomfortable. Nothing is overrated than “getting out of your comfort zone.” It always means neurodivergent, mentally ill, marginalised people doing things to fit into the neurotypical idea of “normal.” The main reason autism goes widely undiagnosed in women is because they have to conform to societal expectations since they are young and by the time autistic girls grow up, they learn how to behave “normally.”
But not setting boundaries and doing things you don’t want to take a toll on your mental health and it is not on you to please everyone. It is important to set boundaries with friends, parents, partners. You’re not selfish for wanting a safe place. It is self-care and those who don’t understand and respect your boundaries are not worth it.
In the first episode of the podcast, the host talks about seeing ADHD memes on social media, finding them relatable, and realising she probably has ADHD. It is a common experience for people who are neurodivergent—those whose brains function differently from accepted societal norms. If you have ADHD, autism, dyspraxia, or dyslexia, you’re neurodivergent.
Growing up, you know you are different, you do not fit in, but you do not have the vocabulary to understand and articulate your experiences. That is why neurodivergent people need to have resources to understand themselves better. Desi, Chill, and Mentally Ill is a relatable and accessible podcast—not just for neurodivergent people but also for everyone who wishes to learn and understand more about mental health issues and people who are different from them.
You will find Ani sipping tea while obsessing over his favourite fantasy series Stormlight Archive that he feels everyone should read. He is also often trying to discover new ways to recommend the series to people. You can follow him on Instagram.