Shakti Perspectives: Tharika
In previous years I have really struggled with my own mental health, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia, chronic depression and anxiety. I have attempted to take my own life on numerous occasions after wholeheartedly believing that there was no way to overcome my struggles. After staying in hospital for numerous weeks attending intensive therapy, counselling, and taking medication I managed to gain control of my mental state.
One of the mistakes I made was not talking to anyone about my concerns. I talked to my friends and family very superficially about my problems and when I was at my lowest point, I just stopped talking to everyone. I did not reach out to friends and even when they tried to talk to me, I did not respond to texts or answer phone calls. My advice would be not to isolate yourself. I feel that isolating yourself only makes the problem worse. It will only feed the void that you’re already feeling inside of you. Sure, sometimes space can be beneficial, but constantly pushing others away and keeping to yourself is not healthy for you and it doesn’t help in resolving anything.
When you are already struggling with your mental state and fluctuating moods, you should be very wary of who you are associating with. Intentionally or unintentionally some people will say the wrong thing at the wrong time and that can really push you over the edge. So, my advice would be to surround yourself with those who will support you unconditionally and will not constantly poke and prod at your existing wounds.
Even after attempting to take my own life, I am here now, telling you that it’s going to be okay. I understand and acknowledge that we all go through various hardships and that what I went through will probably not be the same thing that you are going through right now. What matters is that you know you are not alone in this fight. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you for feeling how you feel. If you feel like you need help, seek it out and talk about your concerns freely. It doesn’t matter what your friends and family think of you because at the end of the day, you are in charge of your life. Eventually, those who truly love and support you, will be there for you, regardless of their views on mental health.
Everyone has their own coping mechanisms or distractions that they implement to help stay mentally balanced. I think it’s important to do things that can help elevate your mood. It can be simple things such as putting on some make up or going for a walk outside. I love to read so I generally pick up a good murder-mystery book and read to keep myself distracted.
I’m an overthinker, so grounding myself to ensure that I remain in the moment and in the present is super helpful for me. You can do this in various ways. Some like regulating their breath or others count the corners of the room they are in. You can also use cold water, by either drinking it or just touching a cold bottle. It can really help you draw your attention back to the present. I find that particularly useful during flashbacks induced by PTSD.
Coming from a South Asian
background, I know that there is a lot of stigma surrounding mental health. Many don’t take it seriously because there is no visible sign of an illness. I think this is because there is a lack of awareness and knowledge regarding what mental illnesses truly are and how they can impact your life. It’s especially difficult when the generations before you don’t acknowledge mental health as an illness. I think there needs to be more open discussions led by community leaders regarding mental health and acknowledging its prominent existence within the South-East Asian community.
Currently it seems like such a taboo topic to discuss, encouraging so many individuals to suffer in silence because they have been made to feel as though it’s shameful to seek help. I also think that sometimes the concerns we have, being from a South Asian background, cannot be fully understood by others (friends, therapists, social workers) as they do not understand our culture. They can sympathize with us however they are not able to fully empathize with us due to their lack of cultural competence. I think it would be easier to discuss our problems with those who share a similar South Asian background to us or are more culturally aware. As a community we need to be more open-minded and better resourced when handling situations surrounding mental health. We should encourage individuals to talk about their problems within our community. The conversation must start somewhere, sometime, no matter how uncomfortable it may seem, to create a safe space for future South Asians to openly discuss mental health concerns without the attached stigma.