“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”
Through out my childhood and especially my adolescent years I would be found just sitting down and staring into space. I was told that only “mental patients” did that and how could I just do this ? I would have tears well into my eyes randomly and I was always teased that I had an “on” switch somewhere that I could flip to turn on the water works. Over time I looked at this logically (because that’s the only way I could make sense of things) & learnt to not be emotional or at least hide my emotions in cases where I couldn’t control them. I was told that I wasn’t really any use to the family and I was plain useless. One thing though I will mention, that I never had any pressure to perform academically like a lot of kids usually do. I looked around and I started to push myself and work a lot harder – because I had a tough time at school, paying attention in class and learning. I felt worthless and I knew I absolutely had to prove myself to myself first & then the world. So this is how “work” became my coping mechanism and my safe place.
I did go on to get my engineering degree and go on to grad school. I decided I wanted to move away for grad school and I did. During this time, I always thought everyone else who felt home sick was just being a baby because I wasn’t homesick. I was happy for most part. I started to not do well in grad school and this was again a problem for me in terms of self worth. On some level I knew I could never go home even though I was told that I could always come home and that there would always be a place for me. To me that wasn’t an option. I got into a bad relationship around this time where the guy was abusive too but not physically abusive. My best friend lived in Texas at the time and she helped me get out of the relationship by talking to me on the phone constantly. When he tried to get back in my life and I wasn’t strong enough myself, she flew up to spend time with me and without my knowledge told the guy that she would most definitely “physically harm him” if he so much as tried to say “Hi” to me. She’s barely 5 feet and physically no match for him but she actually scared him off…I know she is incapable of hurting anyone but she stood up for me and protected me when I most needed it and for that I am always grateful but she doesn’t expect the gratitude. Around this time I started to hang around with a different set of people and the whole gang helped me through a lot even though they don’t know it. I always had someone around me and I never felt lonely. I some what, learnt to ask for help – it was a baby step at the time but it was a huge step in my mind.
I then got into a relationship with the sweetest & most supportive guy. We were in love in no time and today he’s my husband. A lot of stuff happened between then and us finally getting married. He was diagnosed with Kidney disease, his parents didn’t want us to get married, mine felt that their family wouldn’t be a good fit for me and our wedding was actual hell that we went through. We then started out our life as husband and wife and had our ups and downs. We moved to a townhome and I was still doing well at my job (which was my crutch to cope). Then, one phone call and a callous statement from my abuser about how they did nothing wrong, in fact did nothing to me at all…unraveled me completely. The “strong”, opinionated, self-reliant me broke. It was a simple statement, most folks would ignore it or say something back – all I did was say, “You are the most horrible person I’ve ever known”, hang up on autopilot and I was gone, just gone.
Depression, can be very difficult to spot in yourself. As important as it is for the person suffering to ask for help if they feel depressed, its just as important for friends and loved ones to broach the topic if they suspect someone is depressed and also offer support. I believe that its still very hard for people to admit that something’s wrong because of the stigma that still exists around mental health issues. Being depressed and admitting to it, can make one feel even more less as a person or feel like they are letting others down. What we need to work on as a society is to de-stigmatize the need for therapy and medications in order to make progress on mental health issues. If one is sick, caught an infection – one goes to a physician. There is no shame in catching a cold, a sinus infection, strep or UTIs even! Yet, there is shame & stigma associated with mental issues when a lot of them have biological & chemical reasons.
I am lucky, to have my husband, my friends, my therapist and my physician, who looked out for me, spotted it and offered support at every step. Not every one is so lucky and those are the folks we need to help out as a society.
Here are some links on how to catch the signs of depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) & Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in yourself and others
How can you help a depression sufferer ?