November 25, 2023
When someone asks, ‘How are you?’, ‘Are you okay?’ then, how do you feel? I know for a moment you’ll feel happy for the reason that at least there is someone who cares for you. No matter how busy you are, giving some space to your personal life is very important. We all feel pain and emotions. It is part and parcel of our life. Some hide it from others and some share it. There is nothing wrong in hiding your emotions or feelings unless it gets worse and disturbs your mental peace and spoils your mental health. This is what is known as the culture of silence. When you don’t converse about your feelings or problems with others, then it definitely leads to mental insecurity. Suffering in silence is really dangerous if not addressed at the right time. Then why has this been stigmatised in society?
Well, you might have come across a quote stating ‘The more you hide your emotions, the stronger you become in your life.’ To some extent, it seems true. But what if it turns out to be serious and leads to mental health issues? Man is a social animal. For one or the other reason, we all depend on each other. It is through the exchange of words that we build any bond or relationships. But when it comes to sharing emotions or problems, we tend to restrict ourselves most of the time. This is because people are more concerned about others' opinions. We claim ourselves as strong. At any cost, we do not want to look weak in front of anyone. It might be in the workplace or in society.
Don’t you think that we are very concerned towards societal opinions? Let me give you an example. Consider that your neighbour has gone to visit the psychiatrist for some reason and he or she is back home. How would society judge that person? I am sure they might rename that person, offering some titles such as- May be he or she has gone ‘mad’ or ‘mental’ Is it not? But what do these words actually mean? From old age, these words have stereotypical definitions. No one has ever questioned this and that is why misunderstandings of society about mental illness have led to discrimination and isolation of those who suffer from mental health issues.
Basically, it is the fear of rejection that leads people to suffer in silence. This stigma is still in practice. When people feel afraid to put out their feelings, it reinforces the misconception that mental health issues are something to be hidden, which can further deepen the stigma. Sometimes people choose to remain silent about their mental struggle and still pretend to be fine by putting off a brave face in front of everyone. But the real struggle of what they are going through is seen when their own face is reflected in the mirror. Because we all have this space where we naturally put out our emotions and feel relaxed later.
Mental illness can attack anyone at any point of time. Some situations in life make you go through this struggle. Nowadays, we see many motivators giving more importance to mental health. Especially among youths, mental health issues are increasingly high. In the present scenario, we see people busy with their professional lives, giving no space for their personal life. Somewhere the time spent with family or with friends is vanishing. As everything has become digitalised in this world, even relationships or any other bonds have also become digitalised.
Another day, I came across a child who had no smile on her face nor interest in her studies. She came to me one day and asked me if I could teach her mathematics. I said "Fine. I can help you out". The very next day, when I taught her sums and asked her to do it again. She literally took nearly 30 mins to solve a simple sum and started to rewrite and scribble. There was something that was hurting this child. The very next day, I asked her to draw something she liked. I knew she was very interested in drawing and painting, so I gave her this task. Surprisingly, she drew a house which depicted a happy family. Then I got to know it was nothing but she was lacking love from her family. At a very young age she was going through these issues. Just imagine where we have reached. Like her, I am sure there are so many children or youths who are undergoing panic attacks, anxiety and depression.
Then why do people hesitate to speak about mental illness even after knowing it’s severity? You know there are plenty of reasons for this and one among them is the fear of judgement. In case if a person wants to share his problems with someone, more than his problems he will be more concerned about how others will perceive him or how this society will look at him. In order to avoid these negative comments from society, people often stay quiet and hide their feelings. Sometimes, past experiences also leads to silence. During the past, you might have shared your problems with others. But they might have ignored your talks and left you. These kinds of past experiences also can have a drastic effect on your present life. Most of the time, this can happen in your friend’s circle or in the workplace. If a person is suffering from mental health issues and others get to know about this, then they might consider that person as weak and often come to the conclusion that he is incapable of doing any task which makes him question himself about his intelligence and competency.
There are also a few who give some unsolicited advice. In order to escape from always being told the same, when anyone tries to share something, they throw in some advice like- 'That is all common in life...Just go and chill with your friends or watch Netflix'. Even you might have come across these advice I suppose. In all these circumstances, the major fear stands out to be the fear of isolation. No one wants to be kept separated from society. Now tell me, how many of you have done this at least once in your lifetime due to heavy frustration or for some other reasons? We have either kept our feelings hidden or ignored when someone tried to share something. Am I right? However, now it is the time to realise.
Dear friends, it is you who can understand yourself better, so your health is the most precious one. Talk about feelings, say how you feel. Take care of your body and value yourself. Think mindfully and learn to deal with stress smoothly. Eat healthy and sleep well. Spend time with your loved ones. Avoid all unhealthy habits and make use of that time to do some productive things in life. If I keep on saying there are so many solutions. But all that we need is someone who can listen to our problems without being judgemental. We need someone who says- ‘whatever it is, don’t worry. I am with you.’ Here no one wants unsolicited advice. Instead, everyone wants their loved ones to be with them. This ‘someone’, Why can’t there be among us?
Yes, friends. when someone comes forward to share something, with kindness and mercy, let us leave no one behind. Let us make them feel like they are one among the happy ones. Let’s not try to fade away anyone’s smile instead let us try to put that smile back on their face. In case if there are people who still hesitate to speak up or share emotions, then it’s time for you to open up. Develop conversations with whom you trust. Do not struggle alone, it can eat up your mental peace and never allow you to achieve anything in life. Remember, when one tries to open up or speak, then automatically, even others will do the same and somewhere this stigma can be broken with the bond that you build. When an equal attempt is put forth by both sides, I am sure it can break the stigma and we all can make this earth a better place to live in.
From now let us say to each other - 'It is okay to speak. You don’t have to struggle in silence'.