Post Mortem

On Mental Health

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 2/10/2021 12:29:18 PM IST

 I am not a Psychology student, nor am I academically equipped to write a detailed paper for this topic. Therefore I write this article from a layman’s observation for two reasons. One, that people from any walks of life will hopefully understand and relate to it. Two, because the awareness about mental health has been simply inadequate, or in worst case scenario, ineffective, especially in a Naga context.

In a survey conducted by Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, it was found that every 1 out of 5 adults suffer from mental illness in any given year in the United States. Mental illness can begin at any age, from childhood through adult years. Most cases, it begins earlier in life. 

When you have a physical ailment, chances are that you will recognise it and with proper medication, you are bound to heal. But when it comes to mental illness, the symptoms are hardly recognised and therefore leaves untreated. 

The real tragedy is when we begin to accept it as a way of life. Like an untreated wound, it begins to fester and grow septic, often times like a persistent tumour which you can’t get rid of.  And when those torturous thoughts turn into physical manifestation, we are unable to control because we have no idea what hit us. 

What makes mental illness such an uncontrolled variable is generally because of these reasons: Firstly, people don’t like talking about it. Especially in our society, open discussion about mental health can hardly be seen in one’s home. Family structure play a huge role in shaping the mind of an individual. Thus, naturally we shy away from open affection and tend to bottle up emotions and feelings which is detrimental in the long run. 

In addition to fewer opportunities for open discussion, some people still adhere to primitive beliefs that only ‘mad’ people need a psychiatrist, or a therapist. Secondly, many doesn’t even know that they are suffering from it and just like any other contagious disease, they spread it to other people unknowingly. Negative thoughts are much more contagious than we would like to admit. 

Every wise person knows that the first step to find a solution to a problem is to identify the problem itself. The same thing applies to mental illness, you can take a test to find what exactly you are dealing with; clinical depression, anxiety disorder and bipolar disorder which are the common types, obsessive- compulsive disorder, phobias, mood disorder, eating disorder, personality disorder, Post-traumatic stress disorder, psychotic disorders, hallucination or schizophrenia. You can seek professional help to take these tests or just take it online through legal sites for mental health. 

The next step will be to seek help according to how serious your case is, whether to reach out to a psychiatrist or see a therapist or whether you can deal with the symptoms yourself.  Mental illness can be genetic and may take a while to cure it but you need to remember that living in denial will not give you any healing. It is better to accept your condition and take necessary steps to take care of yourself.

A psychiatrist or any professed psychologist, will give you a better scientific explanation and methods to deal with all kinds of mental illness, especially those requiring medical care. Therefore in this article, I will share with you the simple and very human way to deal with depression and anxiety as these are more common issues. 

Being truly passionate about a goal in life helps in pushing us forward even during the worst of times. Find the one thing that you can dedicate to. Inculcate hobbies that gives you physical exercise, be it gardening, cooking, reading or others. Have a go-to favourite spot to spend time with nature. Learn how to enjoy your own company and take care of your inner peace. Have a pet if that helps you.

These are only preventive measures to keep your mind healthy. When the depression finally hits, some people have high resilience and can deal it on their own. For some, it is difficult to do these tasks alone and therefore it is important to build good relationships with those around you with whom you can share freely, be it family or friends. Man is a social being after all and communication is the key. You will be able to communicate effectively when you know yourself. Having a prayer partner whom you can trust and who will understand you, works wonders as well. Learn to create positive thoughts because your mind will grow on what you feed it with. Do not underestimate the power of good food and a healthy sleep routine.In case of an anxiety attack, practice deep breathing. Breathe in for 5 seconds in, hold for 3 seconds and let it out for 7 seconds. This technique will help you calm down. Above all, you need to know that this is not the end. I practice the rule that if it is not a happy ending, it is not the end at all.  As a defence mechanism to separate themselves from unpleasant events, actions or thoughts, those suffering from mental illness can go in denial, become forgetful, repress memories, project their feelings on others, displace emotions, regress, rationalize, react oppositely, compartmentalize or intellectualize. 

If you have a loved one who suffers from mental illness, first of all, DON’T JUDGE. Don’t compare them with anyone who is leading a better life, trust me on this, they are really trying their best, hoping for even the smallest ray of light. You wouldn’t tell a blind man, how wonderful it is to see the sunset or how mesmerising the world is because it will be insensitive on our part to do so. Then why would you tell the depressed person how happy the world is? You may mean well but ironically, it may not be the best solution. Every person deals with crisis differently. Just because you were able to overcome a certain situation doesn’t mean your friend will be able to do the same. Let’s say, your mental resilience is stronger that is why you were able to heal faster. But why would you berate a person for not having the same resilience as you. Remember, it is an illness, it is not a choice. If understanding is beyond your reach (which can happen often because we cannot read their minds and by this time, they must have reached a point of complete mental shut down), be empathetic, if you care, let them know that they can trust you. Maybe the only help they need is a patient listener and nothing else. Imagine the kind of despair that makes one constantly think that ending one’s life is the only way to end emotional pain and trauma. Imagine all your happiness and success turning into painful memories, weighing nothing against the scale of hopelessness... It is a scary place.

Amongst all forms of encouragements, examples, or comparisons (even with good intentions), unconditional love has a higher chance of saving a life. Give them hope that the world is a better place with them in it. 

That it’s not the end, if it is not a happy ending.

Noyingbeni T. Erui


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