What you’re about to read are my personal views. There are various reasons why people go through mental and emotional problems. In this article I have focused only on the issues that I think may affect a certain group of people. I don’t mean to say these are the only reasons.
Just a few days ago I came across an article written and shared by Dr. Harish Shetty, a well-known psychiatrist. It spoke about the rising number of suicides in the country and the reasons behind it.
Reading it, I felt this is something every Indian must know.
It said 1 in 7 Indians is mentally ill and around 20 crore Indians need urgent mental health assistance. Read that again. It said urgent.
Let’s not ignore this just because it doesn’t affect us or our loved ones. As humans, we are all prone to mental distress. We all go through tough times and feel emotionally overwhelmed but not all of us seek professional help to cope with it.
Suicide is the ultimate step taken to solve a problem that looks too big to deal with because it was not addressed when it was small.
Many of us think we’re okay because we have learned to compromise with unresolved issues. We don’t address some issues because we fear it may get complicated. We don’t have the time or the courage for that difficult conversation with the people in our lives.
Before we know, these unaddressed and unresolved issues take form of some serious mental or physical illness or they find their way out as an emotional outburst that we can’t explain. Then we address the illness through medicines but those issues, those internal wounds don’t heal.
They won’t heal unless we address them.
Why don’t we do that?
We are suffering. And we know it. Still, we do nothing about it. We don’t take any action. What could be the reason? Are we too afraid to talk about it? Or do we enjoy it?
Perhaps we are just used to it as we have been suffering internally for a long time. Let’s understand how.
We all go through a phase when we’re just little people, helpless and needy, dependent on the adults who bring us to the world.
Often these adults bring us to the world out of parental and societal pressure. They don’t want us; they are not prepared to have us; they have no clue what it is like to raise another human being.
In reality, they are clueless about who they are.
These adults don’t just give us food and shelter; they also give us a perception. They give us a lens through which we don’t just see the world but also ourselves.
The way they raise us is influenced by how they were raised by their parents; how they look at the world and how they think things work. They don’t understand that they were born in a different time and the world has changed a lot since then.
They love us but at the same time they are too scared to let us be who we are. They want us to be a certain way, and that makes them do things that eventually harm us.
They want to protect us. A lot of times they overdo it. They spoil us. They want us to be independent and stand on our feet once we grow up. But the words and actions they use cripple us emotionally.
They take away our power to think for ourselves. We are told to do things and not allowed to explore.
Their way of communicating with us is demeaning. They treat us like we’re dumb. They don’t see that we’re learning. They don’t realize that the way they talk to us becomes the way we talk to ourselves. When a parent, out of frustration, demeans the child, the child doesn’t understand why the parent did that. The child listens to the words and internalizes them.
And if that’s not enough, we are treated the same way when we go to school.
We spend 10-12 years of our lives trying to become the person that the system and the society want us to become. We study the subjects we don’t like; we strive for academic success; we succumb to peer pressure; we give away our power once again.
(Read my article on how the education system damages us here.)
Both parenting and schooling try to mold us and change us but they don’t let us become who we really are.
We grow up listening to things like life is a struggle and so you’ve got to study hard to be successful, there is competition and you have to prove yourself, you are a boy so you got to be a certain way, you’re a girl so you got to be a certain way, you’re a man so you shouldn’t do this, you’re a woman so you shouldn’t do that.
There is a constant struggle between who we really are and who they want us to become. We crave to do the things that make sense to us. We want the freedom to live our own lives, but we feel tied down. We’ve lost the ability to do that.
When we grow up with these conflicting ideas, no doubt we end up emotionally distressed and confused. We grow up unhappy with ourselves. We’ve not been loved and accepted for who we are. We think we are not enough. We are dissatisfied with the way we are.
Emotional and mental suffering is inevitable in a society where people are unhappy with themselves and mostly clueless about their real nature.
Thankfully, today there is awareness. We are talking about mental health. There are mental health professionals. This is just the beginning.
We need more of it.
We need more and more people to discuss their problems and seek professional help. We need to destigmatize mental illness. We need parents who raise children consciously. We need schools that are more humanistic in their approach.
We need an education system with a humanistic approach. We need to create a system, a society that allows children to explore their interests and share their views without the fear of being judged or abandoned.
It all starts with awareness.
I am on a mission to raise awareness. You can help me by sharing this article with your loved ones.
Hi, I am Kushal Pahuja. I am a mental health professional and I have majorly worked in the school setting.