It’s no secret there is a lot of stigma associated with mental illness and mental health in the Indian (and South Asian overall) community. I am usually all sunshine and rainbows, but it takes a lot of work for me to get there. Today’s post gives you an insight into some of that struggle.
Two years ago I woke up feeling different. I knew what it was, I had felt it sneaking up on me for months. As a healthcare professional, I had a hunch as to why I was having difficulty getting out of bed, lost all interests in my hobbies and woke up daily with raging thoughts and anxiety. I knew I needed help and fast. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. Two years ago, I wanted my life to end, had no motivation, no ambitions and lost the love of my life to this illness.
I immediately went to see a doctor and came home with a bottle of antidepressants. I was alone and had a job and bills to take care of. I couldn’t afford to halt my life entirely, so I took the medication as a crutch to get me back on my feet. A friend came over to ask me about my appointment. As I sulked into a chair I said, “They gave me antidepressants.” “Don’t get depressed about being on antidepressants,” she joked.
And she asked: “Would you feel bad for taking medication if you had diabetes?” “No,” I said. “Then why do you feel bad for taking medication for anxiety and depression?” she replied. This analogy has stuck with me ever since. If some one had asked me a few years ago if I would ever consider taking antidepressants, I would have said “hell no.” I used to judge the individuals in my classes who performed poorly due to mental health issues. “Why can’t they just suck it up, I’ve been through some hard shit and I am fine,” I used to say to myself.
That was until it happened to me. Two years ago, my body gave up on me and it brought me to my knees. It wasn’t something a vitamin, deep breathing, Yoga, exercise or a pill of St. John’s Wart could fix. Two years ago, I had two friends who literally saved my life, a bottle of antidepressants, and a ton of faith to get me through.
The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality and your life.