I Have Mental Health Issues and It Is OK

By definition, mental health is taking care of psychological, emotional, and social well-being but for me (mine slightly injured mental health) was an inseparable friend that I’ve had for a very long, we have been taking care of each other for a very long time so when NMO set in, our bond only grew stronger. I’d say over 3.5 decades.

Depression

I was 7 when I first experienced depression (due to the circumstances that were happening around me) the time when mental health and I became lifelong friends and started growing together. We would be happy, sad, angry, weepy and sometime we would hide in our room for days. A friend that only I knew about, a friend that if I would tell my parents about they would make fun, not love me and society would outcast me. I am talking about 3 decades ago when a middle-class person in India would not even have heard the term Mental health or illness let alone seek out help.

Mental health awareness

By the time I was 18, we started hearing the term "mental health" thanks to the invention of the internet and accessibility. This was also the time I wanted to get away from my ‘tabooed’ best friend. And all I wanted to do was take care of my head and emotions, so I started popping antidepressants which were available over the counter.

Fast forward to 2008, I went to Australia for my higher studies, where my awareness and perception of mental health changed after I did my major in it. I accepted my best friend with all the flaws and started doing whatever made me happy. Then, I came back to India.

NMOSD and mental health issues

November 2021, my 2nd new best friend NMOSD stepped in that's during my initial period destroyed us (me and my BF). Everything that I had learned became undone. All the effort that I had put in to make my 1st best friend okay went down the drain. I was scared, paranoid unaccepting of my friend, people telling different types of things made it worse. I was a complete mess and was having severe anxiety attacks along with constant meltdowns. And I wasn’t the only one whose mental health got impacted, it was my husband who is my full-time carer, he got depressed, confused stressed. It went awful and I had no control over it.

Then by some miracle, I found the website, found a wonderful family, got hold of my emotions, and came on track again. I don’t take medicine anymore now. I meditate and do what makes me happy. Most importantly, I stay away from Google, unnecessary people, and their advice. Once again I accepted my friend with all its negativity we are on the road to recovery again.

Varying support and awareness

The reason behind my story is – and here comes my outburst – I have lived on 2 continents with completely diverse cultures. And in both the continent there is education, advocacy, hype, there are treatments available with the best of doctors. Yet, one sad reality that may be a little less in Australia is "THE TABOO OF MENTAL HEALTH."

I can’t deny that there are psychotic behaviors, there are unexplained behaviors, we get scared and shut ourselves off, or we get over-excited but does that give anyone, any right to bully us, shame us, or tell us “we will not be able to do anything because we are like that” creating self-doubt and low self-esteem.

Mental health issues do not give anyone any right to label us, stigmatize us, inculcate fear in us, or shower us with toxic positivity by telling us to be positive all the time, look at brighter things, or we should not cry, have happy thoughts, happiness is a choice or this will soon end, stay strong, hide your emotions, especially in front of family and friends what will they think?

Cause eventually It gets lonely. I know I can’t shut people off, and apologies if I hurt anyone's feeling here but despite awareness, advocacy, and treatment the discrimination is still there.

It's just a disease – that's it. We are doing our best. Maybe we want you to be there and listen or simply accept us the way we are and encourage us to accept our emotions.

I have my days when I am weak or happy or sad or angry maybe weepy, and sometimes I hide in my room for days and have accepted myself with all my limitations and imperfections.

My best friend is out in the open, and I am not ashamed. I have mental health issues and it's OKAY.

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