Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Mental Health and I



The recent news about the suicide of a Bollywood actor, Sushant Singh Rajput, has reopened fresh discussions about depression, mental health and various other issues. I have a policy of not commenting on anything and everything out there on social media. But this is one issue, I think, I need to record it here. It is extremely difficult for me to talk about this. But it needs to be done.

I moved to study in Australia in Jun 2018. I planned for this to happen in Mar 2017. As I was researching about universities, booking for my English tests, in Jul 2017, my dad was diagnosed with Cancer. There were no symptoms. He was a teetotaller, vegetarian, cooked his own food, maintained himself well- through an organic diet, Yoga and exercise!  It was beyond treatment. All we could do was, wait for the inevitable, which happened on 3rd Nov 2017. One day before it happened, I got my offer letter from my University and it was the last thing I spoke to my dad about. In less than 6 months of his passing away, I had quit a well-paying government job, moved to a new country, started my Masters degree, searching for a part-time job, meeting new people, networking and everything that goes with it. And I had to do it all, while dealing with something as terrible as- Grief!

I did not have the time to sit and cry in peace. I had not mourned my dad. All I wanted to do was- fuel every single bit of energy I had into a dream I had held, since I was 13! By Mar 2019- after a particularly difficult few months of my life, dealing with job loss, being on the verge of homelessness, meeting some not-so-nice people- I snapped. I couldn't do anything. Grief is not something which everyone can relate to- let alone empathise with. And it is not fair to expect everyone to understand as well.

I had left everything and come here for a purpose. And I needed to get back on track. Fortunately, my University offered free counselling services for the students. I booked my first appointment in Mar 2019 and I have been regularly visiting the professionals since then. I cannot stress how much it helps. As I await the results of my degree, I have looked back and found that I have completed 2 internships, a study abroad (in Germany), leadership position within the university (and an award for recognising the leadership skills) and many more experiences! I do not know what the future holds for me, especially with the challenges of a pandemic ahead- but I am happy, optimistic and hopeful.

Everyone understands about the importance of mental health. But what we need now is empathy. Often times, especially back home in India, it is a taboo to even visit a mental health counsellor. There are a million questions raised. It is this fear of judgement which stops most people from visiting mental health professionals. Pause. Even if one is unsure about whether you need it or not- I would still suggest to take an appointment to visit a mental health professional. If not for anything- it is definitely a good place to just talk. If not treatment, you still come out of it with a perspective!

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