Last week I happened to listen to a very engrossing discussion on ‘How to navigate the dark alley of complex emotions’. Shruthi Bopaiah from Bridgeweave Ltd and Sujatha Ameya, Transpersonal Psychotherapist, conversed with AnitaB.org India Managing Director Maggie Inbamuthiah on managing work and emotions. The dialogue had me mesmerised.
Most of us find it so difficult to accept that we need help to manage our own mind. So, we keep quiet. We prefer to deal with our demons in whatever way we can instead of speaking of it and seeking professional help.
It has taken a virus to bring mental health and well-being discussions to the table. Multiple social media posts and webinars are now debating on this subject; lending it the very much needed air of normalcy. Job losses, salary cuts, work from home, the blurring of personal and professional time, additional household chores, and the almost zero personal level social interaction can have a debilitating effect on our ability to manoeuvre through these tough times.
I have been a caregiver to my family members who have battled their own demons. The whole journey of being with them and trying to make sense of it has honestly not been an easy one. I am sharing a couple of life lessons that I have learnt as I figured my way about in this situation.
As human beings, we all take certain emotions for granted and do not pay much attention to any change in behavior or attitude until someone else points it out to us or it hits us hard on the face. It happened with me as well. For months I ignored the tell-tale signs of my loved ones as they battled depression, subdued behavior, loss of appetite, self-harm, and withdrawal from social life. I thought that perhaps, it was just a ‘phase’ limited to few days and it would vanish on its own. Before I realised, the phase had run into months, years…. Watch out, be sensitive, be there. I took a year off from work in 2016 to pay more attention to the healthcare needs of my loved ones and be around them. That laid the foundation to a collaborative and participative approach towards treatment and healing.
Take the mind medicine
Just as a body afflicted with hypertension or diabetes needs its regular medicine, so does the mind when afflicted with tangled emotions. When you can go to a doctor for body aches, surely you can also go when the mind aches. Easier said than done. I loop back to what Sujatha Ameya has eluded to – it is really difficult for us to accept that we need help with our mind and our emotions. But the mind does need professional support and at times, the right medicine. Search for those who are trained. Ask around. Make that appointment. When I took that first step towards healing, it was like I had found the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
While this is probably the first time, I am writing the journey, I have always been vocal about my own vulnerability in being a caregiver. Speaking about it has been a conscious decision and it has helped shape many conversations. With vulnerability comes courage. You find support from unexpected corners – friends, family, colleagues; who have perhaps battled similar situations and are survivors. It is important to build that support group and lean on it at times. It is okay to cry, feel down, feel low…and it is perfectly okay to take help for your own self.
Patience, patience, patience
Dealing with mental health issues is a test of patience. Of resilience. Of understanding your own self. Of coming to terms. There have been days when I felt I had taken two steps forward and then suddenly I was back to ground zero. Does not matter. I learnt that with patience I could pick myself up again and move ahead. Do not give up ever. Not on yourself nor on your loved ones. Your presence is the biggest gift you can give to those going through a turbulent time. Also, be kind to yourself. We all owe ourselves that.
The open debate and conversation on mental well-being is a very healthy sign of our growth as a society and our respect for all humankind. The PR & Comms community needs to reach out and participate.
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