I was on vacation at one of the most beautiful places on Earth, that is Kerala, back in December. I had a beach-view facing room and yet… all the beauty in the world didn’t have any effect on me. I was lying on my bed, numb, unable to read the books that I had piled up to read during vacation.
I had been invited as a speaker for a panel by the HRD body National Human Resource Development, which I declined. My confidence was at an all-time low. This is sometimes how depression manifests itself.
Do I have depression? Yes, and I’ve been taking my medication for several years.
But maybe this is an existential crisis? I’m 40 and it’s possible.
I have a dream life, I choose to do meaningful work with people I enjoy working with, I mentor IIT students, young women. I do public speaking events on HR, digital media, and gender equality — a cause close to my heart. I travel to off-beat destinations, have loving family and friends who care about me, and yet here I was lying numb, struggling to breathe, questioning the purpose of my existence and thinking what difference does it make even when ‘I have it all’.
After much contemplation, I decided to reach out and seek help from a friend who is a psychologist and counsellor. I shared my ordeal with her. I was having an anxiety attack. She calmed me down and shared a few practical tips to manage an anxiety attack.
She suggested this first tip and I’m adding a few of my own, for those of you reading this, based on my experience.
- Take a long hot shower when you get a panic attack. Trust me, it helps, it diverts your mind and relaxes tension in the body
- Do deep breathing and meditation for 15- 20 minutes. When we focus on our breath, it takes away distracting thoughts in mind and centers us.
- Count your blessings. Write it down. Your life might sound like a breeze. People who express gratitude lead happier lives.
Why I am sharing all of this with the community?
Because after living for several years with the guilt and shame of having a mental illness, I decided something’s got to change. Our society is opening up and there shouldn’t be stigma related to mental health. Even Bollywood is making movies on the topic (even though it’s crappy movies like Judgemental Hai Kya which fail to educate or entertain — I would rather watch A Beautiful Mind to get educated on how mental heath affects people’s lives).
Mental health awareness is a topic I lend my voice to because it is a topic which strikes at a reality close to home. If you are suffering in isloation, please don’t. Unmute yourself, speak up, seek help. Fortis Healthcare has a 24 by 7 helpline for people in distress. There is app and chatbot that can offer initial help to people in distress called Wysa buddy.
(Editor’s Note: More info here on helplines in India)
Don’t be judgemental about people who suffer from mental health issues. They are people like you and me and sometimes have a bit too much on their plate.
Let’s be kind, offer empathy and hugs to each other. For everyone you know might be fighting a battle you know nothing about.
Let the world heal one hug, one smile at a time.
About the Author: GulzaarZindagi is a Traveller, Writer, Mentor, Career Coach.
Views expressed are personal. The Health Collective cannot substitute for expert advice from a trained mental health expert. Reach out for help: do check for resources available across India.