Recently I shared a post on Facebook, I attached an article of my personal story which was featured in Happiful, the Mental Health Magazine earlier this year.
My post briefly talked about how my late teens and twenties were plagued with depression and anxiety. I also talked about the things which helped me to break free from this cycle.
What followed was something I was not expecting. Usually I receive a flurry of messages from people asking how they can work with me. However this time I had so many messages, privately mostly, about how brave I was to speak about this openly, for sharing and being courageous. Many messages telling me about how hard they try to hide what they are feeling. Then more messages about how ‘our society’ shames, suppresses, judges and condemns those who open up about illness, especially mental illness.
All of these messages just confirming that the pervading sickness of ‘perfection’ is so rife in all parts of society and also in all levels of ‘culture’. It was a painful reminder of the fact that when I was going through all of this I had no support apart from my husband. No one was willing to ask, understand or enquire what was going on with me. Why for hours on end I couldn’t get out of a chair and why being around people made me feel like the air out of the room was sucked dry and I was going to die Instead I felt judged, I felt guilty, I felt weak and I felt stupid. I couldn’t understand why my mind was behaving the way it was and I felt downright ungrateful. I was creating a fuss, people kept saying I should ‘think positively’ and look at everything I had.
Obviously the culture I grew up in and still love is rooted in my indian heritage. But so many within it continue to shame and damn those with anxiety, depression and panic disorder.
They are looked upon as weak, they are looked upon as ‘not fit for purpose’ and often labelled as ‘ungrateful’. Ungrateful for feeling the way they do despite what they have, when there are so many out in the world, who are so much worse off. People are made to feel that they should ‘snap out of it’ and count their blessings.
God and religion are often brought into it. Now don’t get me wrong, I am deeply connected to the Goddess that I worship, I find my peace & solace in her. But I still needed to do the deep work otherwise I could not have rid myself of my depression and anxiety. If I was to heal I had to make sure I was not ignoring myself and what I was feeling.
The fact is whatever your heritage, I believe every single culture has huge taboos around acknowledging and effectivly dealing with mental health issues. This is one of the reasons ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’ irks me so much. It is as if everyone gives it the obligatory nod because thats the right thing to do and then there is no follow up, it’s all just lip service.
What we need to do is create an environment where people do not feel judged when they feel they are being sucked into a dark hole. When they want to hide and isolate themselves because they don’t feel like they can relate to anything or anyone. When they literally feel like they want to disappear because they are so overwhelmed and want to end it all. When they don’t see the point to any of it. When they feel angry and explosive all the time or when they constantly catastrophes and can only see the worst case scenario.
Its essential we create a culture of understanding, empathy and holding space. This starts with getting the right information out there, stopping the overmedicating & numbing to stop people feeling. It also requires letting people know that it’s okay to feel like they do, that there is no shame in it.
We need to ensure there is no space for the judgement, and sneering when another persons suffering is concerned. We need to get into our hearts people. Show compassion show empathy and encourage that person to seek help. They need to deal with whatever it is that is causing their depression, anxiety and panic, and not judge and try to fix them so they have the need to hide how they feel.
For this stuff doesn’t appear out of no where, people don’t suddenly develop anxiety or depression. All of these are the body’s way of crying out for help to heal something deeper. These symptoms are signposts needing attention, to be forced to hide and pretend they aren’t there only compounds the problem.
Now I know this post may sound a bit ranty and for this I make no apologies. For this blog post comes from the heart, this comes from a place of shouting loudly that your depression, anxiety and panic disorders are symptoms of something deeper that you are trying to suppress.
We need to listen, hold space without judgment or trying to fix, and if it’s you who is suffering please work through what is going on. You don’t have to ‘manage’ your anxiety, you don’t need strategies to cope with your darkness. You don’t need to feel shame around what you are feeling. You need to get to the core of what you are feeling and become whole again.
With love and from the heart,
Homeopath & Grief Coach