Mental health day: It’s okay to not be okay
To me, mental health is not about the situation anymore. It is about learning to have the skill set that will help me navigate through any situation that arises, says Roshne Balasubramanian.
Published: 10th October 2018 10:51 AM | Last Updated: 10th October 2018 11:17 AM | A+A A-
CHENNAI: My first bout of depression was almost two years ago, right after I graduated from college and about a year-and-a-half into working in a corporate company, I got into a relationship. But little did I know that I was getting into one that was borderline abusive...there was mental, emotional and sometimes physical abuse. Unfortunately, I did not have the skills to understand or to identify abuse. The relationship was a vicious cycle of putting me down and stepping up.
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The relationship caused a lot of wreckage — I had let it define me for long and it took a toll on me. I lost friends, there was social isolation. It pushed me over the edge and the rope eventually snapped. After a long battle, I got out of the relationship, but I felt empty. I experienced a sense of freedom and it scared me because I didn’t know what to do with it. In fact, it was agonising.
On a physical level, it became hard for me to function and everyday errands felt like a herculean task. Once I didn’t leave my bed for two days. I’d constantly cry and not know why. It was a deep, dark place...dark and real.
When I couldn’t hold on anymore, I decided to visit a therapist. But, finding someone I was comfortable with was a task. Once, one of the therapists disclosed details about my mental health to my mother, without my consent. Eventually, I found a therapist who was reliable. The counsellor asked me to get a Vitamin D test. We discovered that my haemoglobin level was low and my body was Vitamin D deficient. I began to understand this illness doesn’t just involve the mind, but the body, too.
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I started taking medicines, attended therapy sessions, started Let’s Talk Life, with a friend, and began writing. Art became a major part of life and through that, I met like-minded people and began working towards a cause.
But depression is hard. There’s no end and often you are unsure of its status. Especially with women, there are times when hormones undergo a lot of changes. I have PCOD and recently started taking birth control pills to treat the condition. Because of its side effects, I started acting out, was frustrated and violent. There were people who misunderstood, who were concerned and would advise me to test for personality and bipolar disorders.
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Staying mentally healthy is a process and over the years, I have come to an understanding of what it means. To me, mental health is not about the situation anymore. It is about learning to have the skill set that will help me navigate through any situation that arises.
I am part of a four-member WhatsApp group and they are my ‘safe people’. We are just there for each other, willing to help anyone who needs some help to push through the day, in case it’s not a great day at work or in case one of us goes through bouts of anxiety.
I am unsure if someone can completely overcome depression. If someone does, then I am happy for them. But, I don’t think I am there yet. Once you go through the process of therapy and so on, you start understanding, and question about different aspects of the exercise.
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The anxiety that kicks in by the mere thought of wanting to be entirely cured, and thinking about the amount of time it might take to achieve that can be harrowing. I have come to terms with the fact that I don’t have the need to be cured completely. If I feel low, I know there’s help around the corner.
When a lot of young people come to me for help, I tell them that I am not an expert and suggest that they go to a health professional if interested. I recommend a few doctors and do what I can to immediately help them.
Don’t counsel someone with depression when you don’t have the expertise. Even if you have the best intentions, something you say might hurt them instead of healing them. Since there are a lot of people who turn to me to talk about their experience, I wanted to ensure that I have some amount of education in the said field. So, I am currently training to be a counselor.