All characters or statements in this chapter are not fictitious. Even those that relate to your personal lives are entirely relevant. Mental health is very real and it's about time that we start facing that. Any resemblance to peoples feelings or thoughts are purely non-coincidental. People struggle with mental health, it's not a made up thing. If you feel that this chapter comes forth as a means of attacking you, please understand that the only purpose is to educate you for a couple of minutes. All the voices in your head will now make their way towards the reality that we have been shying away from, but a semi-poor version because we don't have a good budget on this chapter.
I don't think I can ever stop preaching about this. Can someone tell me what we need to do in order to normalize talking about mental health with our loved ones and be kind to one another?
Being a Pakistani girl that struggles with her mental health, it's definitely difficult to have this conversation with the family. Yes, the family. As tough as it is to speak to your parents about the status of your mental health, its just as difficult to talk to any family member. It's difficult to sit people down and say "hey listen, this is something I have trouble with. I am seeking help but I am also just letting you know". It's partially difficult because a part of me feels ashamed, because my society has turned mental health into a joke and unfortunately does not take it seriously enough. But its also difficult because I get worried about how the other person would react, again because of the same reasons. Would they say alright, we understand? Would they make fun of me? Would they tell me to stop being a drama queen? Would someone tell me to go increase my faith in God and I'll be alright? Or will I get the famous "everyone goes through it, it's probably just cz you've been on your phone for too long, you'll be fine".
Side note: they’re not wrong, my phone is one of the biggest contributors to my anxiety because of the mass information, competition and intimidation I feel from all social media platforms.
But anyways. As I was saying - it’s difficult trying to parents and family members that this is something very real. I like to blame it on the generation gap. They were raised in a completely different time than us. They were told to 'just live with it', regardless of whether it was causing them trouble or harm. Whereas we try to understand why this is happendng and work towards a solution that won't result in any injuries or casualties. Regardless of the generation gap though - mental health is mental health. Mental health hasn't changed, it's always existed and is only now being highlighted as an important topic.
I cannot say too much about "fixing" mental health as I struggle with mine too. Struggling with mental health does not mean being in a slump of depression 24/7, 365 days a year. Struggling with mental health could look like being happy in the day and wanting to curl up with tears at night. It could look like sleeping well for 3 days and waking up with breathlessness and an anxiety attack the 4th night. It could look like laughing for a couple minutes and then having a mental breakdown shortly after. In my opinion, it's not something that you can fix - but it is something that you can learn to cope with. One thing that MASSIVELY helps in dealing with such issues, is the type of people around you. If you have kind and supportive people around you, you can work through your struggles and still have room to breathe. Whereas, if you have negative or 'toxic' people around you, then it could get harder to breathe and could potentially lead to panic attacks or worse.
So this chapter is dedicated towards me pleading in a sense. I’m here to plead to you, your friends, your parents and your family. Normalize talking about your feelings, normalize talking about uncomfortable situations, normalize talking about mental health. Normalize talking about how you thought someone was not kind. Normalize spreading happiness and saying kind words to one another. You truly do not know what a person is going through and you do not know the effect your words can have on them. Even if you aren't close to the person, if they are at their breaking point, the words you speak could essentially make or break them. So choose your words wisely when talking to others*.
*I understand that this varies from situation to situation, sometimes you have to talk about how you feel and sometimes this is not all positive and kind. I myself don't know what to do in those situations. Take a deep breath and re-read what you write. Try to be as kind as possible. But for the most part, please spread kindness. Don't actively be out there to hurt others. Try to help as many people as you can.
Back to what I was saying. Beyond normalizing talking about mental health - learn to understand where the person is coming from. Don’t be too quick to judge what they are going through. Remember - everyone’s mental health is different. Everyone copes with things differently. What is shown on the outside doesn’t always match what’s going on on the inside. So try your best to understand where they are coming from and most importantly, listen to them. Please actively listen to them. There’s a difference between hearing them out and actively listening. Sometimes just talking to a loved one helps lighten the burden, so try to be there to hear a rant and make them feel heard. Be that person for them.
Don't be that person who says 'just be normal' because 99.9% of the time, we're doing normal things and trying our best to not 'seem off'. A few things that I personally do to cope with my struggle against anxiety and depression include: meditating, exercising, coloring, reading and writing. Although I'm doing these things to be better, it doesn't mean that I am magically alright. I can put on a smile and entertain you all day, but it doesn't meant that I'm not battling my struggles on the inside. Sadly/Happily, not everyone knows what that feels like - that is because we don't talk about our struggles, and also because there are people that don't want to hear about the struggles. So again - can we please normalize talking about mental health. Its on us and on them. We need to do our part and educate them as much as we can. They need to do their part and listen/research as much as they can.
I realize this has become a long one - So I'm going to end it on this note. Be kind to people.
Be genuinely kind to people. Not for a day or two, but also it doesn't have to be a consistent 24/7 forced conversation of 'I am here for you, please talk to me'. Just make sure you are checking up on your loved ones, especially those that are struggling with their mental health. If you are not okay yourself, then don't feel bad that you can't check up on them, because you have issues of your own. You are friends and family for a reason. You are each others loved ones for a reason. Connect with them and bounce your issues off of one another. Gang gang.
Your mental health is not something to be ashamed of. It's something that exists, something that we live with, something we cope with, and something that is a part of our personality now. One thing that will always help is being kind to one another. TO ONE ANOTHER. That means to receive kindness back, you should also be kind in the first place.
Being kind should not be a phase in your life, it should be a prerequisite to breathing. Be kind, spread love,
I want to highlight the fact that the world has come to a point where mental health is something that we can acknowledge and seek help for. I am proud of everyone that recognizes that they need help for their relevant issues and pray that it gets better for them. I am proud that it's not something that people shrug off immediately. We still have a very long way to go, but hang in there everyone. With kindness, we'll be alright x