Importance of Mental Health
As a child when I read the story of the spider trying to climb the wall, falling multiple times before it finally reached the top and yes, the moral of the story being “Try Try Try until you succeed”, it sounded very simple. Lot of things felt simple as a child. I remember being vibrant and full of energy often grumping about why I cannot go out anywhere alone; when I will be able to drive; what it would feel like to work in a big office; be independent etc.
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I would look at my elder siblings with envy and often think they are so lucky that they get to do all this while I am stuck doing my school homework. Now that I am all grown up and ready to spread my own wings, I find myself having the opposite reaction to everything that once excited me. Of course, our maturity increases with age but there is a difference between growing up and losing yourself. All the enthusiasm, confidence I had as a child has been replaced with anxiety and self-doubt. When I look back wondering why so, I don’t have an answer. My childhood was a picnic so that didn’t influence these emotions. In that case what did?
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My mind was making horrific images of all matters I would come across which made the smallest challenges seem extremely difficult to get over. I was seeing things in black and white. What looked relatively easy to my peers seemed like a gigantic task for me. People liked me for who I was so I never felt the need to change. I continued life thinking this is normal never seeking answers for such change in my personality. There were more questions and very few answers to all the negative thoughts that were running through my mind.
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While most of us can relate to these emotions, we let it go never putting speed breaks to these racing thoughts.
The number of people suffering from any form of mental illness is rising at an alarming rate as against those who seek medical help. Suicide rate especially in teenagers have been on the rise. Few years back, we understood Blue Whale as an animal and not a game where people harm themselves. We have let emotions gain the upper hand and often find ourselves stressed, anxious, depressed.
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Only if the mind, body and soul are in harmony can a person truly cherish life. Sadly, the present society is all about trying to survive the competition and pressure and race to the finish line. Nobody has the time to spare a few minutes to work on mental peace. We are constantly comparing and competing with others. We define our worth based on the number of likes, comments we get for a particular post; the number of friends, followers we have on a social website. Further, we start looking for others approval of any task we undertake. We choose to please and conduct ourselves according to the whims and wishes of everybody around us be it at school, college, home, work, society even if it takes a hit on our original sense of being. The constant pressure to be right, accepted, perfect, liked, come first in the race overwhelm us and this has made most of us fall into a vicious cycle of monotonous activities away from our true interests which as the days pass make us feel hopeless, desperate and frustrated. Further, if there is a shortfall in the societal reaction to the standards we have for ourselves, we go into a denial mode or become unfairly hard on ourselves, reinforcing our irrational thoughts and fears feeling anxious that we are not good enough, we will never be successful, there is no purpose in living etc.
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Procrastination becomes the order of the day with the mind giving us all the self-pity, you deserve a break talks that allows us to continue this way until we fall into a comfort zone that we never want to get out of. We wait for opportunities to come knocking on our door or even worse when it actually does come, we shut the door on it afraid of not meeting the expectations. We give fear an upper hand that makes opportunities slip right through our fingers.
If the mind is on its constant chatter always anxious, depressed, standing at the edge of a cliff narrating fictitious events of life – past, present or future, these narrations will manifest into thoughts which over a period of time affect our body and mental health. If all the thoughts running in the mind is positive and lively, life would be precious and heavenly. On the flip side if the mind only tunes into horror, pessimistic, dark thoughts, life will only be a downhill battle. Sadly, only when our physical health gets hampered do we choose to act.
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Depression, Anxiety, OCD and other forms of mental illness needs to be addressed the same way as Diabetes, Cancer or any other form of physical illness. Unfortunately, mental illness is treated as a stigma and hence it is never spoken out loud making it more difficult to seek help. Most often, when one speaks about this subject, people often dismiss them saying the person is mad, looking for excuses, seeking attention, making up stories etc forcing the person to not only fight the wars in his mind but also face the criticism and brunt of the society.
Therefore, it is very important to raise awareness and talk about mental health. If we do not understand the importance of mental health and continue leading life pretending everything is normal, one day we will give in and get sucked into a giant blackhole called the ‘Mind’. The inner voice in our head will be at its best blowing all events out of proportion, constantly criticizing and creating self-doubt in all walks of life. When we look back someday, we will realize that these negative emotions have controlled our entire life completely sidetracking us from the person we really are.
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In the years to come, mental illness will become an epidemic if we do not take the right measures and change the society’s perception surrounding the subject. Awareness builds platforms to stand with the people and walk hand in hand to help them realize that they are not alone in this journey. Support groups, empathy, peer to peer interaction, care, love can go a long way in helping those who suffer to walk through to the brighter side of the tunnel and take life more positively.
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So, let us stand in support of one another and defeat the stigma that surrounds mental health. Our mental health matters.
Author: Revathi Sreedhar
Certified Technical Writer
Mental Health Enthusiast