What is it that finally pushes one over the edge? Who can tell how clamorous those beastly thoughts can be up until they have made you do the unthinkable? Reading about the recent suicides of celebrities Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade makes me ponder – on the outside they lived hugely successful lives, but inside, it was obviously a different story.
Dealing with anxiety is something many of us are familiar with. Indeed, these days, we will be hard pressed to find anyone who has not grappled with those nauseating feelings. The nature of our world is such that it takes a great deal of effort to keep up an optimistic attitude. In the face of moral corrosion of the world, sensitive people often find it hard to convince themselves that living this life is worth it.
What gives our lives meaning? No, this is not an existential question, nor is it a flip one. I’m no mental health professional, and all I can do is open up a conversation about this. Doubtless there are professionals who can help with therapy.
So let’s talk about this for a bit.
A little philosophy
Humans search for meaning all the time. Or else, what is the purpose of this life? Like Sisyphus, we all know what the inevitable end is. You know that myth of Sisyphus, right? He kept pushing that boulder right up the hill, knowing that it will roll down every night, and he will be pushing it up again in the morning. Similarly, why then should we make the effort to find joy and fulfilment, while damning the expiry date?
Some of us turn to philosophy, some to religion, some to art and creative pursuits. Whatever works. The important thing is to find it in ourselves to fight against the darkness. Loving life is not easy all the time. Darkness lies at its heart often. Light has to be more than a metaphor.
And yes, finding the courage to acknowledge, and ask for help is paramount. It is something we need to do right at the beginning. Not waiting for the last moment before seeking help is crucial if we want to survive the deadly attacks of depression.
One of the reasons why many of us are reluctant to seek help is because we don’t want to appear weak. We are enamoured of our public faces which are ‘proud’ or ‘happy’ all the time. Hiding the vast swathes of darkness and pain inside, we travel through life at a breakneck pace. We don’t want to hear the listlessness that whispers in our ears. Instead we turn up the manic music. We would rather not see the howling emptiness inside. Rather we make up our faces and move on to the next party.
It becomes easier to not do the work of recognising the problem, accepting it, and moving towards a solution. But the pressure keeps on building inside, and one day it is bound to burst forth in all its poisonous bitterness.
So what should one do? Understand that something is not healthy inside of you. But that, in no way, is it indicative of a failure on your part. Just like you would seek help if you had a physical ailment, it is perfectly alright to seek help for a mental issue.
The stigma of seeking mental health help is more pronounced in some cultures. In the South Asian culture, it is almost an admission of big-time failure to admit that you need help. One comes up with such solid resistance to the idea of therapy/counselling, it is unimaginable. It is, as if, you are wearing a sign on your head which says you are weak, and need help from mental health professionals. Also, the old bug-bear starts haunting you: “what will people/my parents/friends/colleagues say?”
I think reaching out to people is the first step. Speak to friends, or family members about the pressure inside of you. If you don’t have anyone you can speak to, seek out a counsellor. There is a lot to be done, in the area of mental health initiatives in the public sphere. Yet, there are some available resources. Take a look, and pass it on to whoever needs it: https://www.ctvnews.ca/mobile/mental-health-in-canada-where-to-get-help-1.704877