Hi, I am Soumya Kapoor. I am a 24-year-old girl living in this splendid city of Nawabs, Lucknow.
To the outside world, I am a normal, ordinary girl next door, working her ass off to make her dreams come true. But I am not NORMAL. And, similar to me, 7.5 % of India’s population suffers from some kind of mental illness.
Approximately, seven years ago, I was diagnosed with an acute anxiety disorder with traces of insomnia and depression. At this adolescent age of 17 years, when I was supposed to roam free, have fun with my friends, fall in love or probably top my Board exams, I was struggling with sleepless nights, and getting panic attacks in the bright light of the day. There were nights at a stretch where I couldn’t just sleep and when I did, I used to wake up with panic, soaked in sweat.
But I couldn’t tell this to anyone because let’s face it, mental illness in India is the equivalent to insanity. You tell people that you have a mental disorder and are seeking some help or might seek some help and the looks on their faces change. But, the worst thing about all of this was that my parents had no idea about what was wrong with their daughter, or if something was even wrong, in the first place.
Now, most of the people who know my story told me that I should have gone to my parents the second I figured something was up with me. But here’s the thing, since I was a little kid I have been a very sociable person, this extrovert that jelled up with people like sugar in boiling milk. My parents always saw me as their perfect little munchkin who was chirpy and happy all the time. What could possibly go wrong with her? So, I hesitated opening up to my parents, which, now I realise, was a dumb decision.
I was so scared that people were going to think less of me, that I suppressed my urge to tell the truth for about two years. Finally, I had a breakdown; I didn’t sleep for seven days straight and cried my guts outs in front of my mother, trying to tell her the truth, that I am not well, but the words just wouldn’t come out of my mouth. So, my parents decided that it was better to take me to a doctor and that is when he broke the news to my parents about my anxiety.
What I thought would embarrass my parents’ actually brought them closer to me. All those years I was worried about letting my parents down by burdening them with the weight of my problems when all I had to do was trust them.
There is so much stigma around mental illness that people like me, are scared of the world knowing about our truth. We feel like it will be demeaning to our cool personality, so we carry that weight with us all the time. But as someone once said, family’s love knows no bounds, my family supported me and loved me with all of their heart. And so did my friends and everyone I knew.
It’s been around seven years and I still have anxiety. I still can’t sleep at nights. I still get severe panic attacks when faced with minor inconveniences in my life. I still can feel my heart beating so fast that sometimes I think it’s going to explode. But you know what has changed? Now, I am able to fight with my condition. I talk about it with people, my friends and family, something I would never have been able to do seven years ago. And I can do all of this because I opened up about my condition to my parents, my friends, my family.
We all are heroes in our minds unless we are faced with a situation that proves otherwise. Don’t let anxiety or depression or the like be that situation for you. Get up. Face it. Fight it. If I can, so can you.
My name is Soumya Kapoor and I am sick, but I am also getting better.