Breaking social myths around mental health

Image by Natasha Spenser from Pixabay

There has been an increase in conversations around mental health in the last few years and yet, society at large still looks at anyone struggling with mental health as “not normal” in India. And if that person is a man, well, a man cannot go through such things, isn’t it?

A man is supposed to be the epitome of strength and courage. He is someone who knows how to deal with any and every situation. How can he have anxiety or depression or struggle with mental health issues?

Well, we are here to bust that myth as we talk to two men, on different journeys in life, about their struggle with mental health issues.

The first account is of a young man, on the verge of starting his professional career, but not completely satisfied with his choices so far. Read on to find out why.

Abhishek Puri

Let me be honest straight away. The mental stress I am going through is due to my parents. I’m pursuing dentistry currently because it was their dream, not mine. Even though I’m a doctor now, it’s not what I’m passionate about. I love to travel, so passionate about public speaking, debating, and exploring new places. This is where I see my future.

But I cannot even talk about it as according to my parents, there is no future in it for me. Being a man, I must concentrate on earning money as I am responsible for my parents in their old age.

It bogs me down to think about how I can’t follow my dreams and worse, I cannot be frank about it with my loved ones.

Abhishek

Being a doctor, my entire life is going to be just about investing, opening up a clinic, sitting there all my life, and serving society. But can I not serve society through other means? I feel like I am being selfish when I say I don’t want to be a doctor.

As my parents have invested their hard-earned money and time in me, I have to give up on my entire life so that my father’s childhood dream comes true. I don’t want to blame them as they’ve given me everything I wanted in life; except for the choice to choose my field of work. But isn’t that everything?

If my parents and the society had been more open and there hasn’t been a stigma attached to what I am going through, I would have been able to open up my heart to them.

Every day I tell myself that I shouldn’t be depressed but there’s always a feeling of resentment. I resent being the obedient boy who always listens to his parents because that’s what our culture teaches us.

My other siblings are termed rebellious as they didn’t listen to the parents and took up what they felt was best for them. I wish I was able to tell my parents after Class 12 what I wanted to do. But even before I could think of discussing anything, the social pressure got to them. I was admitted to a medical college and my fate was sealed.

The mental stress I go through every day is tough to handle but my hope is that I will not let it get to me and I’ll be able to find something that makes me and my parents happy.

Next, we have a father of a toddler who went through the initial pressures of becoming a parent but with a loving wife by his side, he was able to share his mental health struggles and overcome them.

Ashish Agrawal

When it comes to parenting, normally it is assumed that mothers suffer from prepartum and postpartum depression. It is also assumed that fathers are tough naturally so they don’t through anxiety, stress, and depression which is associated with becoming a new parent. That he is a man, and men don’t feel pain.

But tell you what? We do go through various emotions and yes, we do feel pain.

Men also undergo the fears of lack of freedom, they also doubt themselves of being a good father and husband. They also get stressed thinking about how they will manage career and be available for the little new life and the new mother in the house. They also suffer from mental illness.

Aashish

When we came to know that we are going to become parents, I did not know how to react. More than happiness, there was this anxiety that started to engulf me. To top it, I was, at that time, in the middle of changing jobs and houses. All this weighed heavily on me.

I started to question all my decisions – of becoming a parent, of changing my job. I started having self-doubt even for the smallest of decisions.

It was my wife Himani who was calmer and more poised than me. We did not want to live in denial about my mental illness. We consulted a counselor and after talking to her, things started to become easier. With time, the anxiety went away and a sense of calmness replaced it.

It’s important to first accept that men are vulnerable too and that we can go through depression and anxiety like any other human being.

You can read about Aashish’s fatherhood journey here.

In conclusion, more men need to come out and share their struggles with mental health in our country in order to normalize it and for them to not hesitate in seeking help. To be healthy physically, it’s important to be mentally fit. So, let’s encourage men around us to share their struggles without the fear of judgment and provide them with all the support they need to be human first.

Do you have something to share? That breaks a myth and can inspire others? Write to us at teamflawsomelife@gmail.com

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