What is therapy? Why do people shy away from it? What makes the conversation difficult? How does one approach therapy? How does one know one needs help? Will such persons be scrutinised? Will they be tagged or stereotyped? Will people mock them for their vulnerability? Or can we collectively ensure that we move beyond this debilitating phase, which only makes matters worse?
Also Read: More Stories in our Special Series: ‘Understanding Therapy’
Understanding therapy is the first step towards understanding mental health. The taboo and shame surrounding therapy and mental illness (across the spectrum) needs to be broken; it can only be done by educating and telling people that mental health matters. Mental health is a part of you –avoiding this significant information is the reason there are misunderstandings around the topic.
Mehak Sabat, a 31-year-old movie-marketing professional in Mumbai spoke to The Health Collective about her experience with therapy:
“I was in my late teens when I knew I needed help. That was the period when I had a constant sense of worthlessness and despair. Death was a relentless thought and it seemed like the perfect solution to all the problems.
I hit rock-bottom when I attempted suicide…after detailed research on what pills I could buy OTC, then (I) spent hours walking down to these chemist shops buying them.
After that attempt I moved cities and came to Bombay. I became close friends with a classmate and she told me about her battle with depression. I had finally met someone who had sought help in therapy. Without giving it another thought, I went to the same clinic as my friend”.
Also Read: Your Stories on Mental Health
A first-person account gives us a perspective that is much needed today. It’s a voice that allows others to find the courage needed to find help.
Mehak tells The Health Collective that for her, therapy was never ‘taboo’, because the concept was so alien to the small town she grew up in.
“Because of the countless books I’d read, I knew that there was something out there that could help me. Maybe not while I was still living in that city but soon enough. All I needed to do, was enable myself financially, to be able to take the first step,” she tells us.
The Health Collective also spoke to therapist Dr Bhavana Gautam, from Mumbai, about how one may approach therapy.
“While there is no fixed way to map a problem to a type of therapy, the best approach is to seek a general consultation first, with a recommended therapist and take it from there.
Since most therapists have a multi-modality approach, they are able to adjust their ‘therapy style’ to accommodate the issue, or problem and individual personality. Another way is to read up about your current problem and about the therapist’s work profile to find a good fit.
What is of prime importance for effectiveness of any type of therapy, is the quality of the relationship forged between the therapist and the individual”.
The Health Collective
Trust and compliance are absolutely essential when it comes to discussing mental health. Therefore, it is only fair to imagine that the first step towards seeking help is nothing short of a brave effort.
Mehak gives us a peek into how she took that first step:
“A lot of times I found solace in books, music, movies & TV shows. There is one such movie called The Help. Viola Davis’s character says something quite pertinent to a little girl, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” That is what you are. That is what everybody out there is.
Do whatever it takes to fiercely protect your sense of being. Once you know what your weaknesses are, no one can use them against you. Hone your strengths. You cannot do that alone.
I started going to my therapist when I was in my early 20s. I am in my early 30s now. I still talk to her once in a while. As I type this, I have fixed up an appointment with her for next weekend.”
Avoiding and sweeping worries/concerns/questions under the rug will only explode cumulative problems over time. This is the kind of negligence that needs to be stopped, not tomorrow or later, but right NOW.
As Mehak affirms, “Bravest are those who are never shy to admit they need help. Extend that arm, someone will hold it.”
About the Author
From a History graduate to an advertising professional to contemplating careers, Sukanya Sharma is still finding her rhythm. A wildlife enthusiast, PADI scuba-diver and amateur trekker, she believes that mental health needs more significant dialogue today.
Views Expressed are Personal. Material on The Health Collective cannot substitute for professional mental health advice from a trained professional.
Editor’s Note: You can find a list of psychologists and psychiatrists in India here