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What is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about mental health? Do you think of depression or anxiety-related disorders? Maybe you know of a friend who struggles with chronic mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or a grandparent living with Alzheimer’s? Nevertheless, mental health is broad and challenging to understand at times, but the knowledge and the awareness that comes with learning about it is worth it.
Mental health comes with stigma attached to it and I know this from first hand experience. I grew up in an environment where my lack of self-esteem was a consequence of the fact that my identity and my body was never seen as ‘good enough’. Despite coming from a conservative family from India, nothing about me fit into the particular mold which caused my mental wellbeing to go downhill.
At a young age, it fell prey to various addictions, depression and anxiety-related disorders as well as eating disorders such as bulimia. I had to deal with my mental wellbeing on my own, due to the misconceptions that exist about mental illnesses.
I know what it feels like to be ‘secluded’ by society but more importantly, I know what it feels like to be struggling with mental health, where compassion is ‘supposed to be’ present.
Here is the trademarked K.A.U.R process on how to prioritise mental health compassionately, so that it becomes part of our identity and inspires others to break the stigma:
Self-knowledge and self-awareness are both important in the journey of mental health, because it’s about shining a light on parts of yourself that would usually be hidden or buried. Self-awareness also feeds into your emotions, behaviour and your general sense of self, which contributes to many aspects of your life including your self-esteem. As the term suggests, self-awareness and knowledge is about shifting your attention away from the world and placing yourself as the main focal point on a journey of self-discovery.
Sometimes we give help, sometimes we get help, both are possible only through self-knowledge and radical self-acceptance. When we accept ourselves, we make room to accept others too without judgement. Similar to self-awareness, mindfulness is all about experiencing a high sense of awareness of what’s happening around you, and inside of you in the moment. As a result, your emotions are awakened during mindfulness, and that means you get more compassionate.
Most of us feel compassion when a friend loses a loved one or when we see a stray animal without a home. We yearn for others to have compassion for us too, but we often fail to recognise that we are human beings who deserve compassion and acts of kindness. Psychological research has shown that compassion greatly enhances emotional and mental wellbeing, and leads us towards living a happy lifestyle. Showing compassion towards others is great, but we can also show compassion towards ourselves by being present in the moment that will remind us of our immense value. This can include going on a healthy diet or creating new and worthwhile relationships.
Our emotions are neither feminine nor masculine, they simply are. Many of us are afraid to ask for ‘help’ because the word itself has a negative connotation attached to it. Help means, “Hey I’m in a position of vulnerability” and vulnerability is something we find difficult to show others, because of the fear of being judged or how others will perceive us.
Now that we’re living in a post-pandemic society, these are periods where we find ourselves sitting, working or raising our children from home, whilst battling with our internal struggles alone. The importance of having a safe space is something I will always emphasise because of my personal journey of battling with mental health. There is no shame in calling a trusted friend and seeking advice or booking yourself for therapy to seek professional intervention. These are all safe havens that are needed to help us walk on a path of health, light, love and healing.
Remember our emotions are sacred and we must pay attention to them, so that we can have hope, compassion, and curiosity towards our own personal development and growth.