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Why does there need to be a special category for Women’s Mental Health? Because it is often put on the back burner. Here are the top 10 posts from #ADecadeOfWomensWeb
Mental health has been in the spotlight recently for very unfortunate reasons. A deeper look at the issue is essential; knee jerk reactions that are nothing more than social media updates for visibility (yes!) will make no difference.
As someone who has seen the devastation that can be wrought due to a flawed understanding of what happens and what needs to be done, I’ll prefer to not dwell on it myself much, and go straight to the top 10 posts that are a must read in the category of Mental Health for Women, from #ADecadeOfWomensWeb.
These 7 Hidden Symptoms Of Depression Are A Call For Help. Can You Spot Them In A Loved One?
Depression can strike even the most resilient of us and can have devastating effects if left unattended. Hidden symptoms of depression can often make it difficult to diagnose, putting your loved one at risk.
You may already be aware of the some of the well-known symptoms of depression, such as:
But there are some hidden symptoms of depression – symptoms and signs that are not commonly associated with depression, that may be masking the illness and reducing the chances of getting the right kind of help. Here is a list of some such symptoms that can suggest an underlying depression, especially if they have been unresolved for a long time:
Why Is Indian Women’s Mental Health The Last Priority On Everyone’s Mind?
Women’s mental health is often the least prioritized subject matter in our families. The gender stereotypes in our feudal and patriarchal Indian society get accentuated by discrimination and several restrictions on women.
In conventional societies like India women are comparatively less empowered due to lesser opportunities of education and employment, and general discrimination and taboos against their sexuality and existence. Even the financially secure and upwardly mobile women fear to cross social demarcations, and thus remain constantly vulnerable on the mental health front.
A research paper in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine states:
“In the Indian scenario, a man is always treated as an asset wherein families try to accommodate men even though with the difficulties and the wife or parents will act as a source of support to them. However, for the women, the situation is entirely different. The widow is abandoned; the divorced one is consistently blamed; the single one is frequently questioned about the illness; and the married women are always shuttled between the family of origin and the family of procreation.”
Gaslighting Is A Sneaky Kind Of Domestic Violence, As English Vinglish Shows Us
The person who engages in gaslighting is called a ‘gaslighter’ while the victim is called a ‘gaslightee’. A lot of Bollywood films explore physical and emotional abuse but Gauri Shinde’s ‘English Vinglish’ deserves a special mention because it focuses on a different kind of emotional abuse.
Satish is a gaslighter because he manages to convince Shashi that she doesn’t deserve love and respect. Shashi is warm, funny and compassionate but Satish cannot see any of these qualities. Shashi always feels that there’s something wrong in the way he treats her but she dismisses her feelings because Satish’s comments make her doubt her own intuition. She starts believing that she is less worthy and signs up for English-speaking classes. She meets some wonderful people who appreciate her for her culinary skills, her intelligence, her laddoo business, her beauty, her open-mindedness and her passion. She eventually learns English and manages to impress her husband and daughter.
Fortunately, she realizes that she deserves to be treated with respect…even if she cannot speak English.
Why Do So Many Women Seek Validation For Their Choices & Actions In Online Groups?
Many women speak about their choices and lives in online groups that are safe spaces, mostly to seek validation, even though they know the answer. A case of strong conditioning?
They know it’s not overreaction. They know they are right. But the conditioning to make sure that “I am right about feeling like this” must be so exhausting to live with!
Am I wrong in this?
How do I be less bothered about this next time?
How do I deal with it to keep my relationship intact and have my word made too?
Is this how it’s going to be?
Is this really important?
Am I overreacting with such a small matter?
Should I have said something differently? How do I say this?
Am I expected to be more calm in this?
The Fatal Stigma & Silence Around Mental Health Among Desis Everywhere – Why?
Why don’t we Indians believe in taking help for depression? “The problem comes from a culture of shame and labelling among the South Asian community,” says author Sweta Srivastava Vikram.
What is the South Asian conceptualization of mental illness? A study conducted by The Live Love Laugh Foundation says that “the majority of the people surveyed continue to ostracize those needing support and label them as ‘crazy,’ ‘mental,’ or ‘retard.’” Amongst South Asians, talking about problems or being vulnerable is looked down upon. Also, in the desi culture, we are trained to feign perfect lives for the sake of appearances. “What will people say?”
Here is my ask: Until when will we treat mental illness as a taboo and keep struggling? How many more families and lives need to be destroyed before we concede that if one had diabetes or heart troubles, we would treat them because they affect our life. Similarly, if a mental health issue is affecting our livelihood and ability to connect with our friends and family, it is just as important to get help! I wish the South Asian community would understand that if we can visit a doctor when we have fever, we can take medication for our mental health related issues.
How Portrayal Of Mental Illness In Movies Ranges From The Offensive To The Absurd To The Realistic
Responsible filmmaking is vital. With mental health issues and mental disorders on the rise, there is a desperate need to stop sweeping the issue under the carpet, and to begin actively talking and acting in a sensitised way.
The trouble with Bollywood has been twofold: one, in the portrayal of the issue itself, and two, when they got the portrayal right, there was a callous approach in portraying the addressing of that issue. A gross oversimplification of the treatment and the premium on the happily-ever-after limb of the happiness binary leaves one wondering at the authenticity.
Post Partum Depression Can Be Difficult To Diagnose, But Timely Help Can Be Life Saving
Almost ten million cases of PPD are reported from India every year. This number could be much higher and probably goes undiagnosed because of lack of awareness.
The countdown to motherhood is not as pleasant as it is projected to be. There are so many changes on a physical and emotional level, that often the expecting mum cannot cope with it. To add to it is the hormonal roller coaster that she’s on. All this is enough to trigger mood swings.
And then comes the actual labour, the constant sleep deprivation and exhaustion. It’s not an easy ride at all.
Everyone around the new mum tries to ensure that she eats well and rests but often the mental aspect is overlooked. Which is why they do not know how to deal with it.
Some are sympathetic and try to talk her out of it. Some ignore it, and the worst are those who slot the mother as a cold woman who lacks the maternal instinct. They judge her with their limited capacity. What they aren’t aware of is, that this situation has absolutely no relation with what a mother does or does not do.
Caregivers In Indian Families. Does Anyone Care About Them?
Women are the default caregivers in a family. The role can be physically, emotionally and financially draining, but does anyone care?
The physical demands of caring for a seriously ill patient is immense. Imagine a 60-year old person having to cook for, feed, bathe, change a patient, maintain adequate hygiene, ensure medicines are given on time, take them to attend doctors’s visits or therapeutic sessions, the list is just endless and too taxing. Their own meals, sleep and rest totally take a backseat. Any pre-existing health issues that the caregiver may have due to age, like diabetes or blood pressure get relegated to the background.
Apart from the psychological burden and fear of loss that comes along with an illness, comes the financial pressure. A family may be able to live well within their means in normal circumstances, but a serious illness can wipe out years of savings in a jiffy. This is always at the back of the mind of a caregiver, and subjects them to serious stress. Not every family is equipped with proper health insurance and the thought that treatment may stop due to shortage of money wreaks havoc on already shattered minds.
Another aspect which is hardly given a thought is the patient’s irritability and behaviour towards the caregiver. It may be a fallout of the pain they are in, but sometimes patients will be unreasonable and create difficult situations at home. Sometimes caregivers are even subjected to physical and verbal abuse.
Surviving Attempted Suicide: I’m Taking It One Day At A Time
A personal account of a woman who survived multiple attempts at suicide, and is on medication for controlling her symptoms. Could be triggering.
I clearly remember wondering if I deserved to live, given how I couldn’t even kill myself. It took me down a spiral worse than before. I knew I could have spoken to mom, but I also didn’t want to worry her.
You see my problem, here? I wanted to end it all without bothering anyone.
I know it seems like I am a selfish little brat but imagine what was going through my brain, especially when I just didn’t want to exist. No, I was no selfish brat; I was a good kid with a number of issues; issues that could have been resolved if only I had spoken about them.
Looking back, I know the kind of shit I put my mom through, but I have to give her that, that woman has been my rock for 25 years and I am glad she has been so.
I realise all this now, at 25. But then, I was more focused on ending it so as not to be a burden on my parents. I am glad I ended up surviving because I know they would have been devastated by my death.
I Was Bullied At School For How I Looked, And It Left Me Feeling Deeply Shamed And Frightened
Bullying is all pervasive, and it becomes a much worse situation when it happens at school or in already volatile situations like teenagers, new moms, or those with a disability – physical or social.
My teacher, embarrassed by the content of the messages, said something to the effect of “You know sometimes somebody just starts typing, and they don’t know what they’re saying.” Now all these years later, I wish he had said something else.
I’m not sure what would have helped. I wish he had encouraged me to report it, or to talk about it. I wish somebody had helped me understand that I was being, I suppose bullied, in a way. His non-acknowledgement of the fact that I was being harassed, made me feel I deserved it.
It was partly because of this that I never told my parents – that I had internalized somehow that I was a problem, and I was too ashamed to tell them about how ugly I was. Because I blamed myself and my appearance, I don’t think it even occurred to me to tell them.
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
Image source: Shutterstock
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In her role as the Senior Editor & Community Manager at Women's Web, Sandhya
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