To people who blindly follow Science

Scientists, dietitians, and doctors are also influenced by patriarchal culture.They are not Gods. They are subjective human beings who are conditioned by the society. A good example of this is the way some doctors fat-shame their patients.

Don’t be like religious fanatics! Be skeptical. Do your own research and be aware of bias. Remember that even the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association had once declared homosexuality as a disease!

Problem with motivational quotes

Motivational quotes have their purpose but the problem is with people who use them to shame others/trivialize others’ problems. These people reduce success and courage to will power/motivation, which is pretty simplistic. They don’t take it account privilege, genes, environment, upbringing etc..which all play a role in determining a person’s destiny. No, you cannot snap out of depression by reading a motivational book. It is a complex issue and reducing it to lack of will power is insensitive.

Psychologist/Counselor/Therapist or Psychiatrist: Whom should you consult in the time of need?

Note: This post is based on my personal experiences and I could be wrong.

If you are feeling suicidal, I would suggest you go to a Psychiatrist. Medicines are sometimes important for our mental health, so please don’t think twice about this. Psychologists/Counselors/Therapists don’t have the authority to prescribe medicines.

If you are someone who wants to work on your issues in detail, then I would suggest you to visit a counselor/therapist. Psychiatrists are not trained in counseling.

If your issues are complex and you want a long-term solution, then I would suggest you to visit a Psychiatrist AND a Psychologist. These days, there are clinics which have a psychiatrist and a psychologist/counselor/therapist.

If you don’t sense an immediate danger to your mental health and yet, you have issues, then first visit a Counselor/Therapist. He/She will direct you to a Psychologist/Psychiatrist if needed.

Psychologist, Therapist and Counselor seem similar but there are distinctions. Please google and read up on their roles.

Be careful while choosing mental health professionals. Like every other profession, there are people who won’t give a fuck about you. Stop going to such people. Use your intuition and rationality to determine whether a mental health professional is empathetic.Remember that at the end of the day, they are human beings, not magicians.

Not everybody can afford to go to a mental health professional. If you don’t have the money, then please consult a NGO. There are NGOs which offer free counseling. There are suicide helplines too.

Do not hesitate to seek help. Don’t care about society’s perception of mental health professionals.

 

What to expect from therapy/counseling

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.

I have mental health issues and I see a therapist

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.

So here’s the thing: I’m an adult and I have mental health issues. I have started visiting a therapist and I’m NOT ashamed of talking about this. Dr. Brene Brown says that shame thrives in secrecy. So if you have mental health issues. please seek help. Don’t be afraid of feeling vulnerable. If you are an Indian then you will find it really difficult to afford and find good mental health care providers but don’t lose hope. If you are an Indian then you will be discouraged from visiting a therapist but I urge you to trust your instincts. Don’t compare your life with your parents and brush off your issues. You live in a different world and your issues are different. They lived in simpler times but you don’t. Don’t let the older generation gaslight you. Try to challenge their views on psychology/psychiatry/psychotherapy. Stop using words like “mental” and “pagal” in a demeaning way because it creates a culture of shame. Accompany a friend to a therapist/psychiatrist/psychologist because it’s tough to find support when you are facing mental health issues. Last but not the least: Love yourself. It’s a cliche but don’t ever underestimate the power of self-love. Society has conditioned you to hate yourself. Rise above the conditioning. Use your intellect and do what’s best for you.

Dealing with shame

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). 

In defence of psychiatry

​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.

Thoughts on some blog posts

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.

5 tips to relieve anxiety

1. Write down your thoughts

An anxious person knows that beyond a point, anxiety is irrational and even counter-productive. And yet, he/she is unable to stop the influx of negative thoughts. By writing down our thoughts, we activate those parts of our brain which are responsible for language. Since language is organised and logical, our focus slowly shifts from emotions to rationality. Through writing, we force ourselves to think about our thinking; a job that requires us to be more objective.
2. Power poses 
There is a lot of talk about how thinking influences our bodily functions but we tend to forget that the body influences the mind as well. In her famous TED talk, Amy Cuddy talks about the power of body language and the way it can make us more confident. Cuddy recommends power poses like putting your hands on your hips, putting your hands at the back of your head and putting your legs up on the table.
3. Make small choices
The most dreadful aspect of anxiety is its ability to make us powerless. An anxious person feels out of control, overwhelmed and helpless. The best way to beat this feeling is by making small choices. Change the wallpaper of your phone or decorate your room in a different way. These are not life-changing choices but the act of choosing has the power to make us feel as if we are in control.
4. Carry something 
Our brain is not satisfied with mere intellectual understanding. If we want to change something, we need our senses to be involved in the transition. An anxious person feels unsafe and vulnerable in the world. To feel safe, he/she can carry something that makes him/her feel at home. For example, I always have a book in my bag…even on those days when I know that I won’t have the time to read. That’s because books make me feel secure.
5. Count backward numbers
This famous technique is used by those who are unable to sleep but it can be an effective way to cope with anxiety too. While counting backward diverts our mind, the process of counting can bring calmness to our mind. When it comes to numbers, we believe that everything is certain. We don’t know whether we will crack the interview but we know that 6 always precedes 7. Knowing something with certainty can be a boon in moments of stress.

Note to self: Taking care of mental health

1. Have goals. Short term or long term.
2. Have a passion (If your job is your passion then have some other passion/hobby too)
3. Respect your mind. It is not just a means to an end.
4. Physical exercise and mental health have a deep connection. Walking can sometimes bring clarity.
5. Don’t hesitate in taking help from mental health professionals and/or friends. Read up on mental health issues.
6. Be careful while sharing your problems with others. Sharing your pain with insensitive people can make things worse.
7. Try one-minute meditation for challenging rumination.
8. Challenge your brain and mind but make sure that they are not overwhelmed.
9. Share the things that you are ashamed of (with a sensitive and compassionate person). Talk about mental health to reduce the stigma around it.
10. Focus on things you can control.
11. Learn to say no. Have emotional boundaries.