It was my best friend’s birthday and we were having a small luncheon. It was raining outside so we decided to stay home and chat. We were busy catching up and a friend quipped, “You know I saw some anti-depressants on my roomies’ table. And I thought ‘Oh my God! I am stuck with a psycho.’ I need to change my room ASAP.”
While everyone else expressed their sympathy and suggested brokers and shared leads, my best friend silently held my hand and squeezed it to tell me she’s always there for me. “You know people don’t really understand mental health,” she said.
Exactly one year later, when I realised that the worst was over and I was ready to join the workforce, an HR consultant asked me never to reveal my illness. “Tell them that you had some surgery or you were taking care of your parents….something…anything but not that you were depressed.”
‘Aren’t mental health ailments silly?’ Unlike the last time when you broke a limb, and people had only good words to write on your plaster, mental illnesses attract mixed emotions.
Some would be sympathetic, some would ask you to ‘man up’, some would call you a ‘drama queen’ while others would think you are a ‘psycho’ and conveniently drift apart. And, if you think friendships and finding jobs are two most difficult tasks, falling in love and finding a partner is at least a hundred notch above in terms of difficulty level.
“I have nothing to give.”
“Am I mistaking his pity for love?”
“Am I enough for him?”
“Would my love break him?”
“What would his friends/family say?”
“Should I tell him about my illness?”
“I look so ugly. I don’t want to meet him.”
“I can’t take the pain of heart-break. I want to die.”
This road is full of bumps and I am yet to start. Every time I try to take a step, I am pulled back, by my own thoughts. I wish I was able to tell them:
“I am not my mental health.”
“I deserve to be loved too.”
“I am fun, just not always.”
“I know I might be too much sometimes but I am totally worth it.”
“Sorry, I bailed on you yesterday. It was a bad day. What can I do to make it up to you?”
“Hi, I know I see a therapist but I can see you sometimes too. Can we go on a date?”
We live in a society where love is allowed between two similar people only, barring similar gender, if you know what I mean. Everyone approves of a love which fits into a stereotype- in a mold that has been churning out couples for centuries now.
We live in a country where mental illness tends to mean only one thing: insanity; a country where 1 out of 5 people is said to need help.
We are facing an acute shortage of psychologists and psychiatrists, and I feel that most of the start-ups trying to bring a difference tend to shut down in their initial years.
In a country where people suffering from depression and other mental health ailments are asked to hide their illnesses, would they ever find love or rather would they ever dare to open their heart to love? I often wonder.