Mental health is not a choice, compassion is: Here’s how Devina Kaur beat the blues
Published on:8 August 2021, 12:00pm IST
Mental health struggles are real, but not unbeatable, notes influencer and "Too Fat, Too Loud, Too Ambitious" author Devina Kaur, who shares how it is a shared responsibility of a society to help people overcome their dilemmas.
Listen to this article
A while ago a woman in my neighborhood jumped from her ninth-floor balcony, taking her life, and leaving behind 3 toddlers. It was an extremely traumatic experience that sent shockwaves throughout the whole neighborhood! The news of her tragic death appeared in the local newspaper. In the days following this incident, I received many messages from my community asking me if I knew this woman personally and if I knew exactly what happened. One message in particular stood out to me from a man who lived in the neighborhood. He said: “How could she do this to her young children?”
This question really upset me because it reminded me that when suicidal death occurs, victim-blaming and hatred towards the victim increases. Nobody seems to care about what the suicide victim was facing. Perhaps there were days, months, even years of struggle or trauma that the person was living with before they simply couldn’t do it anymore. Right away my empathetic side came out and I replied to him: “Instead of being harsh and so judgmental, we should think about how much pain and struggle this young mother must be in to have to take such a drastic step.”
All of a sudden I burst into tears and spent the next 3 days in retreat – I did not feel like myself. For the longest time, many of us were only ever taught to take care of our physical health. We ignored our mental well-being thinking that if we just worked hard enough and took care of our physical selves, we could be happy and successful. However, we are more than just our physical forms. Our minds, our hearts, and our spiritual selves need to be taken care of too.
Fortunately, we are gradually seeing a shift in public perception. More and more people recognise that mental wellness is as important as physical health. However, I still see a big gap in the awareness of self and mental health. When faced with challenging situations such as the death of a loved one, unexpected job loss, or a break up, we often ignore our mental health needs and desires to get through the situation as quickly and swiftly as possible. We do this to move on to the next chapter in our lives. This is a very common coping mechanism but it is one that leaves our mental and spiritual selves depleted. What if we began to see our challenges as springboards to overcome our inability to face uncertainties and obstacles?
I am someone who has struggled with mental health issues including feeling the need to end my own life.
Here are some tips on how to combat it:
1. We live in a matrix and everything is a question of perception. Instead of blaming yourself and others for experiencing mental health issues, learn to accept your situation.
2. Mental health issues are common at every level of socio-economic background. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), in 2019, one in every 7 Indians struggles with mental health issues. It’s time to remove the shame and stigma associated with mental health, especially for women after childbirth (postpartum depression).
3. Most importantly we need to open up the dialogue about being authentic and this starts with having more resources that offer assistance on a local, regional, national, and international level.
4. It is important that we remember mental health is not a choice, compassion is. Humans are incredibly resilient beings. If we work together, we can stand tall amidst any adversity. As Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda stated, “By struggling to overcome the pain and sadness that accompanies death, we become sharply aware of the dignity and preciousness of life and develop the compassion to share the sufferings of others as our own.” Being spiritual self-aware also includes connection with yourself and your mental peace.