“There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.”–John Green
It’s “World Mental Health Day” today and I couldn’t find a better day to talk about this topic. My parents belonged to a generation where talking about mental health or any of the illnesses and disorders related to it was considered a huge stigma. It is considered an untouchable topic by many even today. But am glad the present generation has made continued efforts in breaking the barriers surrounding the most important aspect of human life. People of our generation are open about their feelings, do not shy away from discussing their mental health issues and seek out help when they realize that something is wrong.
I woke up today to the news of a young boy who chose to commit suicide due to depression. He was just 13-14 years old. I’m unable to comprehend the pain that the boy had to go through before he chose to end the misery altogether. He couldn’t talk about it with his parents and they are left with innumerable unanswerable questions in their mind.
For the longest time, I did not talk about my feelings with my parents as well. My relationship with my mother changed after I had a heart to heart discussion with her about everything I had in mind. This step is a lost cause as far as my father is concerned. But I’m glad my mother understands the importance of mental health and lends a patient ear whenever I vent out my frustrations to her.
Many of us might feel that this topic is overrated and we can overcome anything if we wish to. When we experience mental health disorders like panic attacks, anxiety, OCD or depression, our brain undergoes changes that are definitely not under our control. Many a times, we just don’t feel in the mood to do anything in life. We lose all hope for the future and are unable to experience happiness. These feelings are real. The first step to deal with a mental health disorder is “acceptance“. We need to accept that something is wrong with our thought patterns. The next step is to “seek help“. I’ve tried talking to various counsellors with the sole reason to get me out of the negative pattern my brain has gone into. I always wanted a quick and permanent solution to the problem. But it doesn’t work that way. Mental health disorders can be caused due to genes and family history, environmental stress, a traumatic experience, childhood trauma, life experiences or a combination of these factors. These causes accumulate over a period of time and take a long time to show red flags. By the time we realize it, we might not be in a condition to come out of it on our own.
There are few effective ways in which we can maintain a stable mental health if we are willing to work on it every single day. These are techniques that each one of us is aware of yet we are unwilling to take time out to work on ourselves till the situation gets out of hand. I’m trying my level best to create a routine and habit out of these techniques so that I follow them every single day on an “auto-pilot mode“.
- Workouts : Exercise in any form is a proven way to release endorphins in our brain which makes us happy and healthy. This one has dual effects in maintaining our physical as well as mental health.
- Meditation : I can’t stress enough about the benefits of meditation in our life. It is incredibly difficult to make this one a habit. We need to push ourselves very hard in the beginning. Yet, the benefits are incredible and almost instantaneous. I have started a practice of meditating right after I wake up. This has proven very effective in maintaining a good routine so far. Meditation has powerful benefits in the long term if practiced daily. It helps us become aware of our thoughts and teaches us not not dwell on every thought in our mind.
- Journaling : It’s the best way to let out our emotions and understand the pattern of our thoughts. Journaling and writing has helped me find answers to the questions I never had. It helps me in self introspection and understanding myself better. Sometimes, when we are unable to find people to talk to, our journals help us deal with our loneliness. It also helps us to focus on the present moment and live each day as it comes.
- Gratitude : I wrote an article about this a few days ago. The most powerful practice suggested by my counsellor was to write 3 things I am grateful for every morning and 3 great things that happened during the day in the evening. This is an incredible practice to count our blessings in life and more reasons to be happy.
I wish and pray for your mental health and happiness.