Before you read on, I would like to make a couple of things clear (in the most non-disclaimer tone possible). What you’re about to read today is a collection of thoughts and feelings collated through the experiences of many lovely individuals who shared their stories with me – in hopes to help somebody else. I am not an expert.
If you’re familiar with my work on Instagram, then you might be aware of the fact that this is not the first time I am writing about mental health, well my reasons for that are because I strongly believe that the lack of attention towards mental health is a global issue that affects most nations – one that has not yet been properly addressed.
We are often under the misconception that mental health is linked to the ageing body and we class it as an issue that affects the elderly. Well, we couldn’t be more wrong. Although the figures cannot be measured exactly, mental health disorders as well as issues such as anxiety and depression have been known to affect children as young as five years old.
Don’t Suffer in Silence
People that are affected by mental health issues tend to suffer in silence, for many reasons. They fear that people would start to look at them differently, or that they would be treated differently, or they simply feel that nobody would be able to offer them the support they deserve without being judgemental.
The first step in helping yourself, is recognising that their is some sort of a problem. Often times, we’re in denial about our health – be it mental or physical, and we’re so caught up in our urban lifestyles that we lock any health concerns in to a tiny corner of our mind and some even throw away the key.
Either speak to somebody you can trust, yes you may not have much to say at all and you feel that you might sound ‘crazy’, but the matter can only escalate if you never let it off your mind. You don’t need ‘help’, if the four letter word scares you then don’t use it. What you do need, is to talk it out.
(tip: if you like to write, record your thoughts in a journal – scribble therapy can do wonders)
But…what is ‘it’?
There is a lot of controversy about what mental health is and the cause/symptoms of certain disorders. Some of the most common problems associated with mental health are; anxiety, depression and OCD.
OCD, which stands for obsessive compulsive disorder, is an anxiety disorder (which according to the oxford dictionary definition) is a disorder in which a person feels compelled to perform certain stereotyped actions repeatedly, to alleviate persistent fears or intrusive thoughts’. I don’t like to dwell on the intricate definitions of issues that can’t be identified or defined absolutely.
However, over the past few years, I have seen the term OCD being thrown around unconsciously and the disorder has been, what I like to call – glamourized. I myself, am not sure whether the humour that has been associated with the disorder is a good level of awareness, I often feel that the ‘jokey’ nature that has been created, takes away from the severity of the issue. Regardless of what you see OCD as, it is one of the most common disorders – 2.3% of the world’s population of adults aged 18-54 suffer from OCD.
“There will be days when getting up and going back to sleep will be all you do and the guilt of being usless will eat you alive – but don’t give up! You are important, your intentions are important”
Anxiety, is known to lead to people unable to coordinate simple day-to-day tasks, making ordinary decisions can seem daunting and cause distress.
The build up of anxiety and stress can lead to panic attacks,
An anonymous contributor said,
“people should know that there are breathing exercises and techniques to monitor and trigger their attacks.”
This is where the idea of ‘self-help’ may get tricky for some, the thought of having to manage something as terrifying as a panic attack alone seems impossible, but the truth is that a lot of these attacks can take place when you’re alone, and certainly have no ‘professionals’ around.
(reminder: if a therapist is not available, you can speak to your gp or family doctor – there is no shame in getting help)
What Can You Do?
If you are driving, pull over and park. Trying to get home during an attack would be dangerous, your attention does not need to be diverted, it needs to be relaxed. Focus on your breathing, panic terrors can lead to short quick breaths but try to take deep breaths and focus on your inhaling and exhaling. Most importantly, do not try to fight the attack as this can increase the anxiety and panic.
(tip: try to focus on one thing that you know will always be around during these attacks, for example – count your fingers)
Most people that offered me their experiences, said that they found that keeping their minds occupied in certain crafts is what helps them. Finding a hobby shouldn’t be an escape, but should be seen as a safe way of expressing yourself by realxing.
Some find solace in prayer.
(tip: take time out of your day/week to do what you love, be it writing, painting or photography – what ever channels your positive thoughts)
For further advice or to talk, here are some helplines dedicated to easing the percussions of such issues
United Kingdom (TheMix.org) 0808 808 4994
United States (Teen Health and Wellness) 800 784 2433
South Asian Society & Mental Health.
Whilst writing this post, I searched for helpline numbers and sites that people could contact should they feel the need to reach out to someone. As a large number of my readers are from Pakistan, I searched for helplines based in Pakistan but unfortunately, I found nothing.
It is slightly upsetting to think that mental health is disregarded in the South Asian and Middle Eastern community. At first, I was disheartened but soon realised that mental health has only started to be recognised as an issue by leading nations fairly recently. The older generation (worldwide) are not properly educated to understand that mental health does not need to be kept ‘hush hush’, it is not something to be embarrassed about.
I urge anyone reading this in Pakistan to get in touch with healthcare organisations/youth centres/or anyone that you think could do something about the matter and create some sort of a helpline that young people, or people of any ages can call or email and know that they are not alone.
The ignorance towards such issues can only be changed by the younger generation. Change does not need to be something substantial initially, even if it is to simply raise awareness, we need to accept responsibility in ensuring that something is done.
Whilst speaking to someone about their experiences, they said: “..one must get help about mental health, but in case you can’t, remember how important you are”
You’re not alone.
Thank you ever soo much to those that shared their experiences. If you have any advice/suggestions of your own, comment them below to help anyone reading this.
*this was a self-illustrated blog post, all doodles were created by me*
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