Mental Health Friday #5

Mental Health Friday #5

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Imagine receiving a surprise invite to an amazing dinner at the most exclusive restaurant in your city. You know, one of those invite only establishments. The dinner is for the “who’s who” of the world…but somehow you received an invite. Excited about this unbelievable opportunity, you arrive to the dinner early and wearing your best attire. When you walk up to the registration table to find out your seat assignment, you are given an empty name tag.

You quickly try to give your hostess your name, but she replies “oh no, names don’t matter here.” Baffled, you scowl and wonder what type of place doesn’t take names. The hostess notices your confused scowl and says “once you put the name tag on, it will display the current state of your mind; and that’s your seat assignment.

If you had to wear the current state of your mind like a badge, what would it display? Would your badge read “depressed” or “anxious” or “elated” or something similar? Sadly, most people have never thought about this question, so the answer is likely “I have no idea.”

We have all been taught the importance of physical health, but we rarely hear about the importance of mental health. It’s almost as if we have somehow forgotten that the brain is also apart of the same body we strive to keep healthy.

Now listen, I use “we” to admit that I too am guilty of this. Depending upon which point in my life you asked me this question, my badge could read “I just came for the snacks” or “sooooooooo, you don’t have bacon”. Read more

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Mental Health Friday #30

Mental Health Friday #30

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Last week on Mental Health Friday, I shared the story of Rahul who was diagnosed with Vitiligo (which is white patches spreading on the skin as a result of decreased pigmentatio). He was going through a rough patch; what with the stigma surrounding vitiligo, low self esteem and suicidal ideation. Today’s story continues from there…

At that time, My Mom & Dad had many long conversations with me, where mom was obviously tender while Dad pretended to be little tough but, they both had the same motto – not to let me fall into depression. In the meantime, I got a counselling call from NIT kurukshetra (kurukshetra is my hometown as well) for Civil engineering. After another marathon session with my Dad and my brother, it was decided that given my state of mind at that time, I should straightway join NIT and not even think of dropping a year to prepare for IIT again. And that Ladies & Gentleman proved to be a great decision as the things stand today –> #Moving on is sometimes the best option available !

Hey wait! Story is yet to finish. Few days into the college, I realized that it’s not like school, it’s different here. The way you dress, the way you look matters utmost here, especially during the first two years. And so, by now my favorite enemy, the inferiority complex was back to haunt me. I remember one day crying heavily after returning from college. When inquired by my parents, I uttered “No one will marry me!” And my Dad gave me a look which clearly said – you moron, you are have just turned 20 and you have already started thinking of marriage and who knows, may be about kids also!!

Jokes apart, I had this insecurity that no one would like to be friends with me and that nobody will even invite me to their parties because I look so uncool with these white patches.

After quite a few bad days, finally, one winter morning while sitting under the sun, I gave it a thought – why am I so unhappy and so ungrateful to God all the time despite having such a wonderful family, a wonderful college, some really great friends, no financial worries, availing best possible treatment available etc. Read more

Mental Health Friday #29

Mental Health Friday #29

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Today’s Mental Health story entails the journey of Rahul, through growing up battling with a chronic condition- Vitiligo, in a stigmatising society, and its impact on one’s mental health.

“Ladki ka rang saf toh hain na ” (Girl’s complexion is fair, right?) – a question so often asked here in our country (India), even today, by so called well educated ‘to be mother-in laws’ of 21st century. Such is the unfortunate obsession for fair skin in our beloved country. But look at the irony of the fact, when your whole skin is about to turn white, you panic like anything because suddenly, you are being looked down upon for no fault of yours.

Well here I am, presenting my story (it won’t be sad & boring, I promise) spread over 13 long years of my struggle with a skin disease called Vitiligo or Leucoderma, which in layman terms can be simply put as a problem of white patches, whereby melanin pigment of the skin starts fading away and your skin colour starts turning milky white.

Irrespective of how deadly a disease is or for that matter, how adverse the circumstances are, you just need to hold on, you just need to believe that things will eventually turn better for sure.

The reason why I want my story to reach masses is not to glorify my successful fight with an incurable disease, but to convey that irrespective of how deadly a disease is or for that matter, how adverse the circumstances are, you just need to hold on, you just need to believe that things will eventually turn better for sure. Hoping against hope is basically the key.

Coming back to Vitiligo, well the disease in itself is not painful at all. There is absolutely no physical pain whatsoever, but believe me , the taboo associated with this disease just fills you up with so much of inferiority complex initially, that you almost start hating yourself .

The ordeal started one fine evening, when I was about 11 years old. I returned home after having a horrible cricket session with my friends (I was out for a Duck and went for too much runs while bowling, if I remember correctly). I was anyways, dejected because of the day’s proceeding, but suddenly my mom noticed a small white patch on my knees and she panicked –“It’s a white spot! Come here, let me see properly ”, she said, with her eyes already in tears.

This looks like fulveri (another synonym for vitiligo) ”, she said with a heavy heart. And a pandora box of worries & uncertainties started from there on.

My life was never the same after that day. Every now and then, my mom’s panic stricken voice and fearful expressions on being asked by her friends about my white spots, were more than enough for me to know that something huge and something bad has happened to me.

Then started a vicious and unpleasant circle of countless clinic visits to all the dermatologists in the city and in the nearby cities including Delhi. For the initial few days however, I was unable to understand the gravity of the situation (I wish I had never understood, for ignorance is bliss sometimes) and I was more in a confused state but eventually I started feeling a little odd, I started to hide my spots. So much so, that I intentionally stopped wearing shorts at all and trousers/jeans came to my rescue.

I can still recall that extremely uncomfortable feeling of insecurity, that feeling of guilt for the crime that I had never committed, which stayed with me for next 3-4 years during school. After that, though the treatment continued (steroids & all), but this negative intensity started to lower down a bit, not because I made peace with vitiligo but because I changed my focus. I started preparing for IIT. –> #Changing the Focus does help!

But despite the likes of Irodovs & Resnick Hallidays around (my engineer friends can relate to these terms easily), I could not clear IIT and boom!! Vitiligo came to haunt me again, this time more ferociously. It was all over me, spreading like a wild fire.

See the thing is, vitiligo is someway directly proportional to your worry hormones. The more the anxiety levels are, the quicker is it’s spread. That was a horrible time – a career failure after 2 years of rigorous preparation & an incurable disease which I was battling for last few years – just too much for a 17 -18 year old to handle. I started thinking of ending my life. Yes, it is true, I was really low on confidence and was almost hopeless. Had my family not supported me that time, I would have committed suicide. –> #Family Support does wonders!

To find out how Rahul overcame his struggles and lived to tell/write his story, be sure to look for next week’s Mental health Friday post! 

Thank you very much Rahul for sharing your story with us. Do check out his blog at The passportsouls.travel and say hello. 

If you’d love to contribute and share your story on Mental health Friday, I’ld love to have you. Let’s join hands to talk about Mental illness and blur out the stigma associated with it. You can contact me on My email address: mykahani@yahoo.com

 

Mental Health Friday #18

Mental Health Friday #18

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“I felt as though I were standing in a box and the box kept getting smaller. Every time I felt ok, something happened that would knock me around again.”

The above is an excerpt from my last post. During this time, my emotional reaction was intense. The people in my life that I had always been there for, left me feeling completely worthless to everyone. Being badgered about my medications made me feel as though it didn’t matter what I did or said, and it didn’t. I was intensely hurt, and intensely angry. I can’t say how horrible those couple of years were, but I can say it was never as bad as being with my ex-husband.

When I first left, my physical state was one where I could not safely walk an eighth of a mile by myself for worry that my legs would give out on me. I had trouble with depth perception, balance and coordination. From the start, every time I was with John and I was in pain, he would ask me to go for a walk. I found that walking made the pain better and I began to walk everyday. At this point I was medication free.

That winter, I went back to my doctor once my insurance was all set and I got back on the medication. This only lasted a couple of days before I was unable to stand up. I was extremely dehydrated and my body was not breaking down the medications. I knew it was my liver. I went to the doctor’s three times over the next year and every time I was seen by a nurse. It took until July of 2015 to get an appointment with my doctor. Then they cancelled the appointment because the doctor had to take a month off. At that point, I made the decision to find a new doctor. Over the past few months, there have been a lot of doctor’s appointments and I have been in treatment for Hepatitis C for four weeks now.

In the spring of 2014, less than a year after I left my ex-husband, I got a phone call from a friend. I had known this woman for 18 years, although I had not seen her or talked to her since before the previous Christmas. When I answered the phone she asked me why I didn’t have a truck yet and I said I didn’t have the money. She said I should have had a job by then, that it had been over a year, (it hadn’t) I told her I was disabled and she told me that she sees people in wheel chairs bagging groceries. She said I was looking to blame someone for my life and when I asked why she was saying these things to me, she said because of the conversations she had had with me over the winter. I replied to that saying, “But I did not have a phone over the winter.” She insisted I talked to her on John’s phone, but that was never true. She had obviously spoken to someone else and was yelling at me for it. I tried to talk to her about this later on three different occasions, only to be told that she didn’t have time for it. I could not continue a friendship with this woman and it broke my heart. I did not, nor do I understand why she called me to say those things. Sometimes it is the not knowing that makes it the worst. Read more

Mental Health Friday #6

Mental Health Friday #6

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What NOT to say to an ill person:

1)“You look terrible. How are you feeling?”: I am pretty sure if a person looks terrible, chances are, they feel terrible too. And I am also sure the right conforming answer here would be: I’m fine

2) “You’re looking thin, you sure have lost a lot of weight, I know its hard but you should really eat.”: I should point here that for a person going through chemo, this is totally inappropriate, because a) they do not have the appetite to eat courtesy of nausea and vomiting b) it doesn’t matter how much they eat, weight loss is a side effect of the chemo.

3)”Awe you don’t look so good, treatments are rough eh?”- but of course they are rough. Drugs especially, psychotropic drugs change the biological and chemical balance in our body.

4)”Well my (mum, dad, uncle, friend, relative) had a similar problem and they tried (?????) and it worked. You should do that cause it makes it go away”

5) “You’re looking a little stressed. Are your treatments going ok?”: and if you say they aren’t, I have a feeling the next statement would be no(6) below.

6) “well just keep praying”.

The above list was compiled and sent to me by Colin from meandray.com who is one of my greatest Mental Health Friday supporters since day one.

And it’s another Friday, which means another Mental Health Friday. I would love to do another of this list. So, if you were having a chronic Illness or mental illness, what are some of the things you wouldn’t want someone to say to you? Please leave a comment and I’ll be sure to include it in next week plus the link.

P.S: an MHF story would be published later in the day. Stay tuned and looking forward to hearing from you.

IMAGE CREDIT: Whisper.sh