Words also often fail you during your most difficult times, when your head feels nothing and everything at the same time.
It’s sad yet heart-warming that now, everyone has been speaking of mental health. People are reiterating their support and presence to others, and emphasizing on how during difficult times we need each other, and how they are there for you and me. But, that is the thing. This concern is confined to the online space, on social media, when its presence is needed offline. If we shoved our phones aside for a while, took some time off that world and delved a little more into our real, offline lives, we’d probably hear the cries of help clearly around us, amongst people we care about.
At the same time, it’s wonderful to have every one of all ages and opinions come together, sympathize, acknowledge, and extend support online. Even if the only thing it does is remind people that there is help, hope, and ones who care. But that’s the thing. It’s not that simple. When your own head fails you, you shed all the will physically and mentally, even something as simple as talking to someone may feel like lifting a mountain over your head. In that case, one can’t be expected to talk to anyone about what they’re experiencing, especially when they don’t seem to navigate through it themselves.
Every mind is different, every capacity is different, and so are everyone’s reactions to their own mental health. No one can ever really fathom the depth and severity of what goes through someone’s head. When even the strongest minds may experience such heightened mental turmoil that even they cannot articulate their thoughts and emotions, we must try to understand the severity of it, the complexity of it, and the inability to vocalize it.
Saying ‘I’m there for you’ isn’t Enough
To people who are suffering, these are nothing but mere words. These words or assurances may or may not cut through their pain and pave way for their thoughts to be expressed. Sadly, it takes a lot more than that.
Look around you and start there.
There is a reason why most people either keep it bottled up inside or prefer going to therapy than simply talking to their friends or family, who may still be understanding or supportive. They find it easier to talk to a stranger than to their close ones. That is probably because as close as they are, their loved ones may sometimes not be able to comprehend their mind the way they want them to, or one may feel hesitation to let loose and unravel it all.
Many of us may simply talk and post about mental health but may not be reflecting that same support, kindness, and understanding in reality, especially where our help is really needed. It’s great to assure people by saying that you are here for them, but that’s all that is – a fleeting sense of support and assurance that everything will be fine. A little more conscious effort and a little more understanding and compassion is needed, and this can often be missed out on in close relationships. You know your friends, family members, and anyone close to you in a certain way. There may be closeness and transparency, but you may not be a part of their private side that they may keep to themselves—their thoughts, feelings, perception of the world, the stories, and the cynicism. Moreover, sometimes, it can get difficult for a person to look beyond their own life and delve into someone else’s, to actually think of the possibility that there is more to what they exhibit to you and to the world. And, if we want to reach through that darkness, a simple ‘I am here for you.’ may not be able to help them, unfortunately.
Many people are scared of being judged or feel ashamed for talking to their close ones about it. That’s where this stigma comes into play. When we try to eradicate it, it’s important that we start from our closest circles, and truly understand what mental health is, instead of allotting labels to people and certain mental health concerns. Although mental health is getting destigmatized in the country on many levels, there is still a large section of the crowd that believes all the wrong things about it. Many believe there needs to be a reason for a person to be depressed; some paint a faulty mental picture of what depression looks like.
According to a large part of the society, if someone is experiencing depression, there has to be an underlying valid reason. According to them, a person cannot have depression if they seem to live a very fulfilling life. And, when they find the strength to let it out, they either receive excessive care and sympathy or some insensitive labels. Some people may not be able to articulate or open up to you because they may be worried about the hundred questions that may follow after that revelation – the judgement, the badges of ‘attention-seeker,’ ‘unstable,’ or the kind of sympathy that may further push them to the brink.
Depression doesn’t need to have a reason and it certainly doesn’t need to be expressed. Anyone can be affected by it. Today, as much as we have cleared the taboo around the subject, there is still a great amount of ambiguity and greyness about the subject with regard to a person being diagnosed, reaching out or offering support, due to its sheer multi-layered nature. Sure, people may be open to touching upon the topic frequently but they may not fully understand it. You may be surprised to know how many people in your inner circle may be experiencing similar issues and may not be confiding in you or anyone else because of the shock, sympathy, questions, or judgment that may roll out. If you really want to help, look within yourself, and certainly look beneath the actions/words of your loved ones.