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Apology Letter To Those Who Battle Mental Illness, We Are Sorry!

Posted: June 20, 2020

With Bollywood Actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death everyone is shocked at a person so jovial, positive and inspirational losing hope in life and taking such a grave step?

A famous Norwegian writer who once said, “Losing your life is not the worst thing that can happen. The worst thing is to lose your reason for living.”

With the recent suicide case of Bollywood Actor Sushant Singh Rajput, everyone is under shock and disbelief that how could a person so jovial, positive and inspirational lose hope in life and take such a grave step? He had good looks and health, he was extremely rich, had a successful career in Bollywood, great love life, loving family…What could have gone wrong in his life? That too he never showed any signs of depression out in public.

Well, that’s where we all are mistaken!

We think everything is fine when it isn’t and that’s where we switch on our ‘selective’ senses towards people who are struggling with mental illness.

We tend to see, hear, do things that appease to us when we are with them not realizing that they have a storm they are juggling with that you have no idea about…perhaps even try asking them once, but NO we don’t do that.

The media, Bollywood personalities, government and even common people are expressing their grief on this incident and sharing #wearehere #supportformentalillness posts and long rants about how we should support people and listen to people who are battling depression, anxiety etc.

But let’s be honest, do we practice what we are preaching on social media?

These statistics from a media house is alarming for sure, it is a wake-up call for India but what are we doing about it?

Therefore, I pen down this apology letter to all those strong souls who fight, defeat and win over mental illness Every. Single. Day. Whereas we as ignorant fools, just continue to be indifferent towards this aspect as if everything is normal. SO…to all who it may relate to-

We are Sorry, For Not Being Sensitive

  • That we are oblivious to the minute details you subtly share about your feelings and what you are going through and just focus on what we have to say and make you listen to instead. Whereas what we should be doing is lending you a patient ear when you share your innermost feelings with us.
  • On a casual Friday night, When you tell us that you are ‘not in the mood for going out’ or ‘You don’t feel like it’…we still coax you to get dressed up and go out/ party with us. I mean… who gets sad on a weekend right? Instead of this, we should be considerate enough to cancel out the plans over sitting with you and spending time with you the way you want.
  • When we ask you ‘What’s up?’ and you send replies like ‘ Sadness’, ‘Nothing’… We are OK with that and we put a stop to the chat there. Whereas we should be asking you- Come on, tell me more or Are you Really OK? I am here if you want to talk about something, Shall I come over?
  • For the times we have neglected you during your sadness and pain or have been unable to be “present” (both literally and figuratively) to celebrate in our happiness or success. Instead of being selfish, we should be prioritizing you sometimes when the going gets tough. Rest can wait.
  • We claim to be very well researched about various political issues, social issues in the world but when it comes to researching about mental health and its importance we don’t delve deep into it because we feel its too depressing. Whereas the need of the hour is to be more educated and researched on this front to overcome the misinformation that is being widespread among us. Also, this could help us in being well adept in tackling certain situations with much more sensitivity.

We are sorry, for laughing when you needed us 

Even when you come to us and share what you are going through and spell it out for us that – ‘Hey, I am struggling with anxiety’ or ‘I think I’m in depression’, we laugh it off by saying – 

‘Yeah yeah, everyone is depressed these days,’ or

 ‘It’s just so common’ or

 ‘We tell you about the time that we felt the same but it went away with time’ or

‘You are just exaggerating the small stuff’ or

‘You are being too pessimistic about life’ or

 ‘Just be calm, try deep breathing’ or

‘Don’t say this in front of others, they’ll see you in bad light’ or

‘GET A LIFE!’

And many such phrases that scream how apathetic we can be to fellow humans.

Instead of being one with such a shitty attitude towards mental illness, we should be more compassionate in handling the situation. Hence, being educated about this would help!

We attach a social stigma of prejudiced perception on you when you tell us that you are going for therapy, or you are taking medicines for your mental illness. Whereas we should be supportive and should normalize the idea of therapy and medication (just as we would for any other ailment)

More than this we equate women with depression/anxiety = having mood swings or PMS and men with depression/ anxiety = not being manly enough or being too-sensitive for a man. Instead, we should banish these illogical ideologies and that again would come by knowing more about the issues.

We flood our social media with campaigns like #Isupportmentalhealth #mentalhealthisimportant etc. and write long posts on World Mental Health Day but do nothing in practice when it comes to supporting a dear one in need. Instead of focusing on the likes, comments and shares on our posts, we should shift the focus towards those who require our genuine support, love and care. It doesn’t take much to talk to people in depth. You don’t have to post about something JUST because it is trending!

Why not treat mental health as serious as all other illness 

Our Indian government churns out various schemes and allots humongous budgets for social campaigns, they promise a lot of progress in various fields in their election manifestos but when it comes to allotting budget towards mental health care support, it’s almost zilch. Instead of this, It is time to increase the budgets which will eventually increase the efficiency of the campaigns. “The budget allocated for mental health is 0.05 per cent of the total healthcare budget. The average percentage of the total healthcare budget allocated to mental health in developed countries is at least 5 per cent,” These are just some suggestive measures we should take instead of the ones that we usually do. There are plenty of other ways to help too.

These are still just small instances in the vast sea of many alike that we are guilty of doing daily. They surely might be very trivial for some but little do you know, it does have a grave impact on someone.

So accept my apology and I hope with this, people realize that it is time to be a bit more caring, sensitive towards others to begin with. We are living in a world filled with negativity, you never know- your one ‘Hi’, ‘wanna talk’, ‘I’m here for you’ may change the entire world for someone who is seeking out help to confide in others. Just try it!

If you or anyone you know is feeling suicidal, here are some of the helplines available in India. Please call. 

Aasra, Mumbai: 022 27546669

Sneha, Chennai: 044 2464 0050

Lifeline, Kolkata: 033 2474 4704

Sahai, Bangalore: 080 25497777

Roshni, Hyderabad: 040 66202000, 040 66202001

Picture Credit – Still from Dear Zindagi (2016)

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