Therapy is often taken as a negative notion in our society. People believe it to be for the sick and weak. Our country is still in the phase where the realisation of how important mental health and a person’s well being is is yet to dawn. Being someone who is diagnosed with anxiety and bipolar disorder, it took me a long time to come to terms with my condition. Years went by, and it wasn’t until recent experiences that I have embraced the way I am and have taken up the challenge to tackle this.
I was always unable to control my emotions and I let the sentiments get the better of me. Ever since I can remember, crowded rooms made me breathless and dizzy. I would fall short on conversations and believe that it would always be my fault. It wouldn’t stop right there. I would go ahead and over think and analyse the situation, trying to figure out where I actually went wrong. But I would always end up blaming myself.
Taking this as a burden and embarrassment, I wasn’t open to my parents because it made me feel weak as well. Our society has always had the habit of defaming mental health and with all of this in my head, I couldn’t show them I was fragile. I rarely allowed myself to appear weak or vulnerable because I didn’t want to let others down. But how long could I have hidden it?
In the ninth grade, I failed most of my papers and couldn’t even think about facing my family. I knew it was my own doing. I should have studied harder rather than concentrating on all kinds of first world teenage girl problems. Another reason that triggered my panic attack was witnessing the suicide of my neighbour a couple of days prior my exams.
The shame was clouding over me and I could feel the shortness of breath as I walked home from school. By the time I reached my door I was already hyperventilating. As soon as my mother opened, she found me crouching next to it, trying to find the strength to catch some air. I was wheezing and could hear her call my father out as she came to my aid. Her words were muffled and everything in sight started to blur out. The next thing I knew, I was out cold. This was a turning point for my whole family. In fact it got to such a point that we all decided therapy was what I really needed.
What can I say about therapy? I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve always had very antiquated views of therapy. I was honestly petrified during my first session and wanted to run out of the door before it even began. The first session did nothing to prove to my assumptions wrong. There were a lot of questions and talk about depression, but true to my overachieving nature I felt like I couldn’t just quit and instead should stick it out for a while. It was hard opening up in the beginning. But as the sessions went by and the exercises took over, things started to get better and clearer.
Therapy made me understand that there was nothing wrong with being different. It made me see that I wasn’t all crazy and that telling people would always help. I’m glad I did it, because although it was a slow burn, therapy eventually prepared me to put my big-girl pants on and deal with some deep-rooted issues I’d been in denial about but needed to face.
By Sanjana Prabhu