Discussing your mental health in desi households is another wild ride. “Beta we have given you everything? Other people have nothing to get by on. You should pray 5 times a day. This is all the devil’s influence. Yeh sab iss phone ki ghalati hai” and my utmost favorite: “yeh sab dramay hein.”
Yes, blame everything on an external phenomenon and expect another similar phenomenon to solve said “issue.” As far as most parents in this society are concerned, we are either immune to depression or it literally doesn’t exist. Because god forbid we take mental health seriously.
Depression Is My Friend
Contrary to popular imagery, Depression might not be run down mascara or scars, with shackles or ruffled hair engulfed in ominous lighting. It’s not the everyday ups and downs or the mere “blues.” It doesn’t appear overnight. It doesn’t have a single reason that it stems from. It’s actually a friend.
The world is too hard on you sometimes, and your friend protects you. Not only does it do your thinking for you, it even takes the extra mile and conjures up what other people think of you for you. It’s right there and then you start to feel the same ugly world slip away, and your own mind becomes your worst nightmare. There’s a gun to your head, the barrel pressed hard against your skull. Depression tells you you’re not worthy, polished with inadequacy. It reminds you of everything that is not right, everything that you haven’t accomplished. It tells you you’re unhappy and that’s the way it is going to be from now in. Meet my friend, depression.
Desi Parents On Mental Health
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. It has a biological and a cognitive explanations. Apart from what affects your head, it takes a toll on your body too. One feels a severe lack of energy or an absence of motivation, Restlessness or agitation, a pattern of poor appetite and unexplained physical aches/pains. Self-harm or suicidal tendencies are common. In Pakistan alone, 50 million people are suffering from mental disorders alone (tribune, 2017).
Some desi parents love the version of you they have embedded in their mindsets, the embodiment of a perfect child, be it grades, religious devotion, obedience, ethics and so on. And a single deviation from said devotion is ultimately the worst possible thing the child can do to them, apparently. But what does one do when the cause of such nonconformities from the program is not in their control.
It’s a circumstance that creeps upon you when you least want it to. It has a mind of its own. It’s as though another persona resides within you, constantly struggling to take over, constantly war-ridden. It’s not supposed to be a sob story or a tragedy. I wish I were a tragedy, it would give me more reason to be sorrowful. But this particular stance stems from the curse of being prudently hopeless about yourself and the world.
Here’s one thought for everyone associated with a troubled parent, whether you are a parent or a sibling or a friend, why don’t you actually listen? You’d be surprised at the things that are not actually part of your reality, but still part of others.
Millions of people affected by it are not imagining it. When you choose to not be a friend who listens, depression waltzes in. Don’t take drastic measures, don’t downplay it, don’t start praying to God to solve something that is clearly inflicted by humans, don’t consider it a big bad grievance, just keep an open mind, let go of your stereotypical conditions regarding the topic and listen.
It’s not like one would open up to you like a deprived tape recorder, it takes time to even do the most minimal of tasks like talking about it. However, knowing that the other party is there to listen is a step above.
Mubeen a.k.a. “magic bean”, secretly wishes he was Bo Burnham. He has a stereotyped rich, white girl personality that comes to life when he’s with his best friend. He considers himself a ‘hopeless romantic, who doesn’t ever pursue anyone’. He loves his ability to always be rational and has an avid interest in astronomy. He loves being in water & swimming and including other things, he likes watching TV. His motto in life is, “You’re Gonna Die Anyway”.