The untimely death of a prominent actor, Sushant Singh Rajput on 14th June 2020, sent shockwaves across the Indian subcontinent. Sushant was 34 years old. He committed suicide.
I am sure many of us are still reeling from the effects of this news. I, for one, sure am.
I feel a great need for us to speak up on the subject of mental health. Especially now, that the whole world is going through a phase of forced isolation and people are facing challenging circumstances on their own.
Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, post traumatic stress - I'm sure we are familiar with these terms. However, I feel like we are unaware and ill equipped to deal with mental health issues, should it happen to us or our dear ones. The purpose of this article is to create awareness and help us understand our role.
This is a vast topic and for this particular article, I am purposely not breaching the “spiritual” facets rather focusing on practical aspects and my own life experiences.
The struggle is real – A snippet from my life
At the age of 11, when I had just passed my 5th grade I went into this phase where I was struck with paralyzing fear. This lasted for a couple of days. There was no rhyme or reason for me to feel it. I had just passed 5th grade with 1st rank. My parents were happy with me. I was at my grandma’s for the winter vacation.
Oddly, I could not understand the reason for this fear. It was not a fear of ghosts or the dark or any particular person or failing in school. I did not have any phobia. I was a normal, happy 11-year-old brought up in a loving and protected environment.
But the fear I felt was real. It felt as if a cold hand had grabbed my heart. It was paralyzing. And the worst part is… I could not share about it to anyone. The moment I thought I’d share my struggle, I would think, “What if they don’t understand me?” And the fear of not being understood compounded my fear 10 times if not more, and pushed me further into this abyss of silence.
And the fear of not being understood compounded my fear 10 times if not more and pushed me further into this abyss of silence.
The phase passed and I was fine for a couple of years.
The next time it resurfaced, it was more intense. I was in 8th grade. This time I could identify the trigger, a thriller sci-fi movie that pushed me into a bubble of depression and fear for the next 3 days or so. Till this day I don’t watch thriller/sci-fi/horror.
The 3rd and the last time I experienced it, I had just passed my 12th grade, again with flying colors. This time the fear was so intense that I thought I’d choke. It lasted for weeks. I could not eat properly, could not concentrate on my daily activities, could not study. I have never felt so isolated and helpless in my entire life. Thankfully, this time I broke down in front of my cousin. She heard me out, consoled me and prayed for me.
This time the fear was so intense that I thought I’d choke. It lasted for weeks.
That was about 20 years ago. I never told my parents or my friends. I never sought out for professional help. Now that I think of it, retrospectively, I think I was going through bouts of anxiety/fear overlapping with depression.
The Mistake I Made
I did not reach out for help. I did not open up to anyone.
I suffered alone.
Why am I sharing this with you?
Mental illnesses are real - They can happen to anyone. I have known people throughout my life that have suffered from them. Friends suffering from panic disorders, bipolar depression, personality disorders and major depression.
They have a variety of causes – ranging from chemical imbalance in the brain to traumatic life events. Some people may be predisposed because of their “melancholy” personality type (please read 4 Temperaments/Personality Types) while others might be suffering from prolonged abuse.
They are treatable – Professional help includes medication, therapy, counselling. But as someone who has gone through this myself – I think what would have really helped me was an empathetic ear. Needless to say, loads of loving attention and prayers.
What is your role?
Educate yourself - read up on mental health issues. Educate yourself. Learn about the causes, triggers, symptoms, etc.
Be aware – someone near may be suffering in silence, desperate for help. Unusual silence or intense reactions may actually be a plea for help in disguise. Be aware of the actions and behaviours of the people around you.
Be empathetic – when someone opens up to you, be empathetic. Be present. Hear him/her out. Don’t rush with your advices, preaching and prayers. In my case, all I needed was someone to understand my pain.
Be genuine – in this world of curated posts and FB pokes people are starving for genuine friendships. PLEASE. Avoid cliché phrases like “Everything will be OK” “I’ll be praying for you”. Follow up with the person. Engage him/her in a dialogue
Be a bridge – The person might need your help to open up to family or reach out to a doctor. You might not be equipped to help the person entirely. In such cases, become a bridge of help
If there is anyone reading this article that is going through a difficult phase in life, you are suffering in silence, unable to get help - please open up to your family of friends.
If you are unable to do that, you can write to us - firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me @ FB or Instagram.
Personally, I have found solace in the arms of my heavenly Father. In the knowledge that He loves me and values me. My relationship with my God has prevented me from falling into that abyss of fear for the past 20 years. He has promised me,
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.”
About the Author:
Wife to Danston, Mridula is a worshiper and a teacher in the body of Christ.
She works in the field of data analytics and consulting in the pharmaceutical domain.
She hails from Darjeeling, India and needless to say loves her Darjeeling tea!