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Shakti perspectives: Nadia

To be completely honest, I never realised the importance of mental health and the role it can play in life, where it is virtually in control of all your actions and thought processes. Personally, I think I realised how greatly it can impact me was when life, academics, friends, and family were not willing to wait for me to be able to stand up again. And I say this because at one point of my life, I just wished everything would stand still and the clock would go back to when situations were simple and could be comprehended.

One of the lowest points in my life, I would say, was during my first year of university- fragile, oblivious, exploring the new found freedom studying in a foreign country had offered, life was enjoyable even though my friends and family were a thousand miles away unable to physically lend me a shoulder. Fortunately, one of my closest friends was studying in the same university as me, while on the other hand I had just gotten into a new relationship at the age of 19 exciting stuff! What I didn't realise, however, was how unprepared I was to take on a relationship moving at the speed of light; and I say this because we were basically living together after a month or two of seeing each other. Things were great, until I went back overseas for the holidays which is when things started to diverge dreadfully. Within one month of being in a relationship I was experiencing my first dose of infidelity (the first of many), constant blame, emotional abuse, as well as this inexpiable affection I felt for my partner.

However horrendously betrayed, I was just unable to let go of this man to the point where I made the mistake of breaking faith with my best friend. A universe of trust issues, feelings of betrayal, and loneliness unfolded where I had completely lost two of my closest friends (more like my only family) because of misunderstandings and toxic issues. I felt completely alone, yet still unable to let him go. The choice between him and my friends was tearing me apart and led me to want to completely end the relationship because I was simply fed up of the constant mental stress. This had persisted for half a year, after which I found that I was discontinued from my University as I had failed some units (first time I failed at school) which resulted me receiving a notice of potential deportation if I didn't take immediate action. It would have been alright if I was handling the situation on my own, but somehow my father had come to know about the notice himself which caused him to take out whatever frustration he had on me. My father is an extremely hard working, stressed out individual, and this meant he would call me every day just to ingrain into me how bad of a mistake I had made and how I let him down. I wish it had stopped there- while I was failing academically, my partner continued to see other women while stringing me along, and my relationship with my friends was completely strained as well.

Unable to cope with the overall situation, I had resorted to abusing sleeping medication to avoid any unnecessary and painful thoughts as I tend to overthink. When things had started to become unbearable, completely engulfed by the feeling of loneliness, I then resorted to self-harm. 

After the events prior had unfolded, once I was finally able to go back to my country for the second set of holidays (I wasn't allowed to previously as my visa had been compromised). Upon seeing my parents, I could not contain myself. My father still had not accepted the situation easily, but when he observed the uniform cut marks on my arms, he broke down only asking why and how I could do that to myself- to which I had no response, I only wanted to punish myself for being a disappointment to everyone around me. It was surprising to me that after all of these incidents, only after experiencing unfathomable pain, I had learned to understand and appreciate what my family does for me. My father said to me, "No matter what may happen, whoever may hurt you, I will be the man constantly loving you and looking over you and your mother and I will do anything to see you smile". 

Once I had reconciled with my family, I was eager to completely resolve my issues with my friends. It's strange, I have two incredibly close girl friends who have immeasurable empathy. To the point that no matter how strained our relationships might be, they will always keep their own emotions aside and help me organise mine. These girls have helped me through the thickest, ugliest situations pulling me up saying to me, "There is always a light at the end of the tunnel and we'll be there for you with it." They do not miss one chance to remind me that I matter and I am loved. 

One other extremely important support I had in place was counselling sessions offered by my University. This is so crucial for anyone struggling who may not know how to seek appropriate help- my counsellor changed my life with only a handful of sessions. She helped me identify the sources of my pain, helped me accept them, and then rectify. I would urge everyone to not shy away from seeking professional advice. All universities offer some services which can be found online, or even by word of mouth. Reaching out to your peers, or people around you in general can honestly help save a life- your life. It's nothing to feel little about; just as we need doctors for our physical health, we need guidance for our mental stability. No one knows the remedy to being upset, but someone can empathise and pass on wisdom to make it slightly more bearable. And there is no other powerful feeling than knowing how in control of your emotions you can be. 

I feel that most families in South-Asian communities negate mental health and discourage efforts to better them. This boils down to awareness- once people realise that mental health issues such as depression can be complicated issues rather than a "privilege", a world of opportunities to share, love, and understand can emerge. Seeking help is a powerful tool, and should always be encouraged. We, men and women alike, do not have to hold back our tears because it is ok to be vulnerable and "weak" sometimes. I still struggle with associating with sensitivity, but I also try to remind myself that it is not a flaw, that I am capable of harnessing strength when it is necessary. This is me now, happy with my two best friends, and sure who doesn't have issues among them and their loved ones? It's patience, understanding and harsh life lessons that really push people closer together and help them care irrevocably about one another. Did I mention that I'm in the most amazing relationship with someone I am madly in love with and is actually an amazing human being himself?

I am also surrounded by people who I care immensely about and I know they feel the same as well. Things do get better, but its okay to be upset during the downs of life, and I guess I would say just try to embrace the bad as it comes and confide in loved ones to seek out the support we so rightfully deserve. 

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