Today’s post was meant to be something completely different entirely. As my first B.I.B. post, I’d wanted to keep it light-hearted but I couldn’t shy away from the truth and the issues I’ve faced as a person first and foremost.
But also as a British Indian Bengali girl.
The recent death of Robin Williams saddened me greatly. To hear such a talented man, one that has provided so many of us with the loveable genie amongst so many other characters, may have taken his own life, stirred something within me.
Realising that a soul that spent so much of his life brightening the lives of others yet could not see the light in his own life anymore is hugely sad to think about. His voice, his laughter and his energy that he brought to every role will without a doubt, continue to live on.
But his death touched me in a different way.
It is a stinging reminder that we might not see past the mask that people wear. We may know nothing about a person’s internal battles, their physical and mental struggles that may end up consuming them so badly that they feel the need to end their pain by taking their own life.
There are people in my life, hugely important to me, who suffer from mental illness. Maybe there are people in your own life that you are aware are suffering too? Or perhaps there’s someone you suspect may be suffering in silence?
For a world that thrives on advance, technology and progress, we still do not know enough about depression and mental illness.
But this is no excuse for ignorant behavior or insensitive remarks.
How often have you heard people brushing off depression as a ‘phase’ or downplaying someone’s symptoms?
Answer :: Countless.
Anxiety, depression, addiction.
These issues are frightening but frighteningly real and shockingly prevalent today.
In the UK, 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental illness at some point in our lives.
The mind is a wonderfully complex thing and yet, for whatever reason, it can become a dangerous weapon of self-destruction; when the spirit, the body and the soul feel trapped, confined to a dark place it can seem impossible to find an escape.
As a Britsh Indian Bengali in the UK
There is still a stigma attached in the UK, yet things are changing for the better.
It can be terrifying to open up to someone to tell them you’re not 100%.
Their acceptance and support is essential.
As a British Indian Bengali visiting India.
Things are so very painfully different.
Ignorance is a key factor much because mental illness is taboo. Diseases of the mind are wrongly perceived by the Asian community society, as feature of being ‘weak’ or ‘damaged’.
Some even have the belief that depression and mental illness is ‘contagious’, something to feel ashamed of, ‘‘Don’t associate with them, you’ll get sucked in too’ and ‘given enough time, it may disappear’.
Has depression affected your life?
As a person trying to help a loved one, it can be difficult too.
Sometimes it feels like time after time, the person you’re most trying to help is simply intent on pushing you away:: But why?
Out of embarrassment
Out of fear
Out of feeling ashamed.
Out of fear that they’re an unnecessary and unworthy burden on you.
But what if that’s the cry for help you wish you’d noticed and not ignored just that once?
Over the years, I’ve learnt that the best way to help is to not offer advice.
When suddenly, spirits seem to rise, it does not mean things are completely better; it is just one of the good days where the clouds are lined with a little more optimism than the rough days.
And so, as we are reminded that no matter how much joy, love and laughter a person is able to share with others, they may be neglecting to share their love with one vital person, themselves.
And maybe the one thing stopping that person from tipping over their edge is for just one person to say to them::
“However hard it gets, however many times you push me away and however helpless I may feel not being able to help you in the way that you or I would both like,
I DO want to help you
If you don’t want to face the world, that’s okay.
If you want to face the world but are too scared, that’s okay too.
If you need me to hold your hand, I’ll be here.
Right beside you, every shuffle or step of that way.
You are not alone and you can step out from this.
Just know, I’ll be here for you”
But there’s more.
There is definitely always a whirlwind of mental illness awareness that surrounds any suicide, particularly one of a public figure.
But mental health stigma won’t just diminish without a concerted effort.
It starts with each and every one of us.
We all contribute to how mental illness is perceived in our words and actions.
It’s up to us to think twice before making a flippant comment about depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder.
It’s up to us to encourage an environment where your loved one, best friend or relative can feel safe admitting they are suffering without feeling ashamed or fearful of the consequences.
It’s up to us to understand and appreciate that anyone suffering from a mental illness needs continual support, even when it’s not obviously apparent.
It’s up to us to remember that mental illness is always an important issue, not just when someone well known dies.
If you have been affected by mental illness or depression or know of a person suffering
Please make use of the links below::
Rethink Mental Illness
Support and advice for people living with mental illness.
Charity for sufferers of depression. Has a network of self-help groups.
CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.
A charity helping people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 08457 90 90 90 (24-hour helpline)
Charity offering support and carrying out research into mental illness.
SANEmail email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
The Mental Health Foundation
Provides information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.
Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals.
Young suicide prevention society.
Love & Blessings,
Ana | The Asian Destination xo