Your counselor/therapist is not your friend.He/She is a professional who is there to help you. He/She is not a magician. He/She cannot ‘transform’ your life overnight. He/She doesn’t have all the answers. His/her word is not the last word. He/She is a human being with flaws and limitations. It takes effort from both parties to build a healthy relationship and like any relationship, it requires time, patience, understanding and adjustments. Be practical and set realistic goals with your therapist/counselor. Not all counselors are empathetic, though. There are some insensitive therapists who invalidate your feelings.
Yes, you read that right! I suffer from social anxiety disorder but that’s not the focus of this post (I will write about it in detail in future). The whole point of this post is: Why are we ashamed of talking about mental health? We don’t feel this kind of shame when it comes to physical health but there is something about mental health which makes us talk in hushed tones. I hope someone reads this post and decides to talk about his/her mental health issues.
Shameful things are so embarrassing that even thinking about them makes us feel ashamed. So we push all the shameful things to the corner of our mind. These accumulated things affect our self esteem and make us feel less confident. One way of dealing with shame is writing down the embarrassing things. Thoughts move at the speed of light but when we write, we instruct our brain to find the right words and this makes us feel in control. By expressing our shame through language we are making it a little “normal” ( as language is a socially acceptable thing).
Medication prescribed by Psychiatrists has been criticized by many. People believe that medicines only treat the symptoms and not the root cause of the mental disorders. This argument is valid but we can look at medication in a different way. If you have opted for the psychiatric path to get better, then you can find long term solutions while you are taking medicines for the short term. If you are under medication for anxiety then you could slowly challenge yourself by putting yourself in situations out of your comfort zone (the medicines might make you feel less anxious). By the time you are off the meds, you might gain enough confidence to challenge your anxiety. This might not work for everyone but for those who don’t like counseling or therapy, psychiatry could be the best option. Ideally, people with chronic mental illness should opt for a combination of psychology and psychiatry (my personal opinion) but if you are confident, then you can choose one of them.
Some posts on this blog are about mental illness and in many places, there are suggestions. A lot of these posts are about anxiety and depression and I write about them because I have personally experienced them. Each human being experiences mental illness differently so I apologize if any of my posts are insensitive or patronizing. What works for me may not work for others as my experiences are not always universal. I have grown up in a culture which shames mentally ill people so I still have unconscious prejudices. If you are suffering from mental illness and feel that I’m wrong about something then please correct me. Thank you.
1. Write down your thoughts
There is a tendency among people suffering from depression/other mental health issues to watch a lot of television (or web shows). While some TV/Web shows are enlightening and inspiring, television as a medium might not be the best choice for those who have mental health issues. When we watch a film, we are not actively involved in the creation process. Since it’s a visual medium, the filmmaker has already made choices: he/she decides what you will watch on screen. Reading, on the other hand, requires us to imagine. The author has described the characters but there is a room for our own creativity. This process of imagining makes us feel as if we are in control…which is (often) the last thing we feel when we are depressed. The process of imagining is like an exercise for the brain…it’s taxing but in the end, there is a sense of accomplishment.
In anxiety, we feel out of control. When we are disciplined, we feel as if we have total control of our lives. Anxiety is often about big events. Discipline, on the other hand, is about the small things that we do everyday. An effective way of dealing with anxiety could be to have familiar rituals. Since anxiety has its roots in unpredictability, a routine can be a source of relief for the anxious person. Of course, life will undergo changes. Sometimes, we cannot carry forward the same routine but there will be always some little things that we can continue doing.
Verbal abuse is not taken as seriously as physical abuse even though it has the potential to permanently change the way we look at ourselves, our loved ones and the society. In this book, Patricia Evans takes up the herculean task of understanding and explaining an invisible form of abuse and challenges us to respect ourselves. So much of the communication that goes on around us is verbally abusive. Body-shaming, misogyny, classism, and racism disguised under jokes are “normal” things today but a “casual” comment has the power to damage a youngster’s self-esteem. Since physical abuse is punishable in a lot of countries, many have resorted to other forms of abuse and verbal abuse is a refuge for many helpless men and women who turn their most intimate relationships into a one-upmanship.