I have finally started the Mental Health Awareness campaign I have wanted to for so long. My hope is that my word reaches one person, two people, ten people, and they get the kind of help I got for myself.
We are so afraid of being alienated by the people around us that we keep our mental illness a secret from everyone. That may be true, but sometimes people surprise us. Keeping my mental health a secret for a decade has been agonizing. But I was in my misery alone because I was scared of losing the people I care about, and the people who didn’t matter. When I did open up, though, it wasn’t that bad. And I was accepted as I am by everyone around me. After all, only a few good people matter, and I can count on them.
This story isn’t sad. Having mental illness or illnesses doesn’t have to be a sad story. It is just different. But not any different from any other physical ailments one might have.
Some people suffer from one mental health problem, for others it’s more than one. It is true that having your brain wired in a different way than others feels incredibly wrong, it makes us feel sad, guilty. Even angry. But it doesn’t always have to be you, alone, tormented. If you have people who care about you, they will still want you, after you open up to them. You will have real friends, a loving family, a soul mate.
People who are alone, I implore you to come forward with your story. If you want to remain anonymous, we understand and we respect your decision. But know that you are not alone. We are all in this together. We are fighters, and survivors. There is no shame or guilt in having a broken brain, like a broken hand.
Would you be embarrassed if you broke your leg? Or blame yourself if you had a life threatening disease? This is no different either. Your brain is broken, you are not.
All of you who are going through recovery, write your story to inspire others.
And all of you who know someone- a friend, a family member, a coworker- who is going through mental illness, your story will spark a much needed shift in how others see mental illness.
Millions of people suffering alone around the world- Eating Disorders, Panic Disorder, ADD/ADHD, Substance Abuse, Depression, DBT, Alzheimer’s, Bipolar Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder, Agoraphobia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder.
In India, mental illness is considered a lifestyle choice. That some people just want to be depressed, so they are. Depression and being sad isn’t the same thing. It is a chemical imbalance in your brain and your brain doesn’t just fix itself because others won’t understand.
Millions die of suicide every year. Hundreds in India. It is time to end the stigma. It is time to know that mental illness is real and people going through this disease needs support.
I have BPAD, clinical depression, anxiety disorder, PTSD. I know what it is like to be alone inside your own brain. I have a very bad substance abuse problem, but I have been clean for over a year now. I like to think I’m still in recovery.
I go to therapy regularly, which I should have done a decade earlier, but I did not. Because I was uncertain and guilty about being who I was.
I don’t want anyone else to go through what I went through. That’s my purpose.
The world will always need help, and some of us are always here to listen, hear out and lend a hand, in any way we possibly can. But it all starts with you. Yes, you.
You need to speak out, and we will hear you. Your story can help millions of others living in distress and shame.
Peace, love, and hope.