People in India are still not comfortable with the fact that someone can be suffering from a mental health or neurological health issue. For many of them, it’s a hush-hush topic and something that shouldn’t be discussed out loud. I am an adult with a late diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. It means I am a high-functioning autistic.
My brain is wired differently than most of the population and this is the reason why I act and react to various things in a different manner. For example, I am highly empathetic and most of the time, can feel the feelings of other people as well. No two autistic people are the same and that’s why it is called a spectrum disorder. People on the spectrum show various kinds of traits and hence, may seem to be someone who are living in their own world.
Autism is still not well-understood by the masses in our country and that is why many people are left undiagnosed throughout their life. One major reason for this is the awkwardness and fear of talking to a psychotherapist or psychiatrist. A general term that is used for these doctors or therapists is “pagal” or “pagalo ka doctor”, which means that the person who goes to these people is “mental” or “a nutcase”.
One needs to understand that our brain reacts to issues such as depression, anxiety, panic etc. in the same manner as our physical body reacts to injuries and pain. We as humans have always feared things that are unknown or cannot be seen and hence, we have never been able to talk about mental health. Just like we go to a doctor without hesitation in case of a physical injury, it shouldn’t be difficult for us to go to a psychotherapist or psychiatrist in case of a mental health condition.
Autism is a vast subject and very little research has been conducted on it in our country and in our cultural context. If people are more acceptable or open to acceptance, things could be made easy for people like me who still haven’t been diagnosed, are living in fear, and have been branded as “weird” or “pagal” by their peers.
Note: The article was originally published here.