June 30, 2021

Why we Need to Listen to those who Share their Mental Health Challenges.


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Have you ever bought a used book?

Have you noticed that the previous owner underlines different content than you? What you consider important is not worthy for that person. And what that person found difficult to grasp was so easy for you.

That’s how different we are.

We all perceive the world differently. Every time we hear a tragic news about someone committing suicide, it makes us question our own life and the choices we make. When we read about celebrities who took their own lives, we start searching our souls too.

Because we assume they have everything in life, so what could be the possible reason to end it? Committing suicide is the most drastic step anyone would take, but one must have gone through episodes of depression and trauma before doing it. Some people come out as winners while others succumb to it. We are all living in unprecedented times where it is not a surprise that the lockdown is having a psychological impact on most of the world’s population.

At some point in life, I was depressed too. I was so low on energy I didn’t feel like waking up. I would cry for hours and wait for nighttime to fall into deep sleep because that was the only time my mind would stop debating itself. On the other hand, no matter how hard I tried, some days I was just not able to sleep.

One of the most significant symptoms of depression is self-harm. Before one decides to take their own life, they might do things that are not beneficial for their bodies and minds, like drinking, smoking, skipping medicines, or not talking to anyone, to name a few. They don’t want to find a solution for the ongoing issue.

I have gone through that stage. For many months, I didn’t want to get up because that would mean my mind would be active in analysis, debate, arguing, examination, and criticism. Why wake up and face the world when I can ignore all my issues by sleeping forever? I tried to share them with a few loved ones, but nobody paid attention. Most of the answers were ambiguous in nature. Eventually, I realised nobody had the time to listen. They seemed to hear—but not listen.

We’re placing great emphasis on reaching out to talk about mental health issues, but are we actually paying attention to those who want to reach out to us? Personally, I do not think that reaching out is the problem. Listening with utmost patience is the issue.

When people complain, they rarely want a solution: they just want to be heard. Going to a party or watching a movie takes the mind off from ongoing issues, but the problem is still there and comes with a loud bang as soon as we get back to daily chores. Giving such vulnerable people the time to let out their feelings and grieve gives them the opportunity to empty their vessel of frustration. Listening is a serious skill, which needs a lot of practice and time.

“It’s just a breakup; get over it.”

“It happens to a lot of people; it’s not a big deal.”

“At least you should be happy that you have a family, money, a job; many people are dying out of hunger on the streets.”

The problem with these answers is they are an attempt to push our issues into the subconscious mind. And these mental blockages—if not dealt with properly—can resurface many years later without a warning.

During my mental crisis, I realised that mere mentioning of the person, place, or people involved would trigger my painful emotions. Some of the methods that helped me get over depression were meditation, reading, spending time in nature, and talking to positive people.

Of all these, meditation really helped me beat the stress. Other than meditation, I tried seeking help, advice, and counselling, but one technique that truly helped me get over PTSD was a concept I found in a book called, When All is Not Well, by Om Swami. This works well for people who find it difficult to reach out to friends, family, or those who cannot afford to seek medical advice.

“Look in the mirror or turn on the voice recorder. Recall the incident that has been bothering you. Narrate the incident to yourself as much elaborately as possible. Recall the traumatic incident in great depth. Try to remember even the finest details. Attempt to even recollect the place (colour of walls, clothes you were wearing, what your thoughts were at that time, the surroundings). The session might make you cry but do not give up and continue with bravery. Once done, close the session calmly and peacefully with deep breathing. This exercise needs to be done several times. If you have recorded the session, play it to yourself and listen with utmost attention. After some sessions the whole episode will stop bothering. It won’t matter at all.”

The author mentions that it is quite important to recall even the finest elements: it is crucial in order to erase the pain permanently from the subconscious mind.

This technique works on the principle of making stress mundane for the mind. Imagine someone coming to you with the same problem every day. At one point, it might create boredom because of the repetitiveness. If we cannot laugh at the same joke again and again, why grieve over the same issue time after time?

The above mentioned technique worked like a little funeral for the issues that kept hurting me daily. Every day we face a lot of issues at home with our husband, wife, in-laws, boss, neighbours, or colleagues. The mind sees all and registers everything. But it’s up to us whether we want answers or to grumble over it.

A stressed-out mind is like a tight contortion, and sadhana meditation untangles the most impossible knots. The dust will disappear only if we want it to.

However, it is important that one must reach out for medical help when facing mental issues. It is equally important to listen to the one who is reaching out to us with empathy and compassion.




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