Thu. May 28th, 2020

Breaking the stigma of mental illness


By Mahrukh Nafees Malik

Breath taking glimpse of cataracts and sceneries in Gilgit Baltistan entices every tourist towards not only the region but also thrills them out for the purity and hospitality of the explicit souls.

When it comes to mental health issues, almost 50 percent of this region are not acquainted with its true essence. Psychological problems like anxiety, depression, phobias are considered as a taboo even in highly educated families.They fear about the society and experience inner sufferings and their condition becomes worse.

Patients having depression go for their treatment in severity stages,when problem goes beyond their control.In our society a patient can go for a treatment but can never be able to discuss openly to their families.From here the root cause of severity starts.

According to researchers average people are suffering from mental health problems but could not go for a treatment because of the fear,”what people will say”?when they will come to know about them or they will mock.

My question is..Have you ever went into such an odd stage when you just pretend to be happy just to please other people or to hide your perturbation.?If yes! Think about it why we are always trying to hide our feelings?Why we would not be able to explain others what we are feeling.

The only answer to these questions is itself a question mark on minds of people..What will people think when they come to know about a real situation.Either men or a women both are human beings, both have feelings.I came across so many mockers who mock on men and label i.e:

Oooops!.. why are you crying??..Are u a girl?.!.(happens with most of the boys or men).

In fact, this would be the platform where the roots of labelling and negative schema stretches.So many incidents compelled me to write this article.I will discuss a few of them

“What are you doing here?”(she was on of my acquaintance) she frowned .“Please don’t tell any one that I am suffering from depression!”

she requested while I was taking her case history.As a matter of fact one should keep client’s confidentiality but what about her fear which is always getting on her nerves?.

“Yes…My heart is pounding out to share some thing!” ..the lady( around 60 to 65 years old) caught my attention while I was working as an trainee psychologist in a psychiatry ward.It was really a heart wrenching scene.

When some one suffers from Angina or heart attack, the news outbreaks. Meanwhile relatives come to see and start consoling. In fact ,they receive intense support while they are being treated, constant monitoring and nursing care.The everyday life of an individual   comes to an abrupt halt or turns upside down when he/she suffers from anxiety or depressive symptoms as they know the certainty of news which will spread like a wild fire.In turn they have face the humiliation/reproach.

“No ,no I am not suffering from depression..This man is mad!(she pointed out his husband) ..brought me to the hospital for no reason.!I know he has an extramarital affair.!”….she yelled. Now she started panting.

She was under the stress of incertitude and having symptoms of anxiety.(which she called depression).Most of the people diffuse anxiety with depression. In fact they are totally two antithetic things.It seems she was assuring to make me believe that she is all right.

We use to fling the dirt on people when we label them with the word i.e ‘psycho’ for their mental health problems.We ought to restrain ourselves from labelling and avoid schematic radices in order to prevent the disastrous consequences regarding mental health.

Some people under go social anxiety disorder(marked fear or anxiety about one or more social situation in which the individual is exposed to possible scrutiny by others) or selective mutism disorder.They cannot discuss openly. Neither they make friends nor they speak in front of others. The individual fears that he or she will act in a way or show anxiety symptoms that will be negatively evaluated.(will be humiliating or lead to rejection to others).

Some people undergo obsessions of doubt(Obsessive compulsive disorder).

It takes me 4 hours to take a bath. I feel the germs are still on my body. Anxiety then overwhelms me and then again I take bath and the process repeats until my parents drag me out of the wash room!”

she explained.She had obsessions for almost 5 years and she never visited a psychologist or a psychiatrist.

Remedies you can try at home:

PMR( Progressive muscle relaxation therapy):If you suffer from anxiety (of any type), our muscles are probably tense most of the time. By practising PMR, we can reduce fatigue.It works well for office going men or women when they get back to home with weariness.

Arlin Cuncic has shown some steps of PMR:

Find a quiet place free from distractions. Lie on the floor or recline in a chair, loosen any tight clothing, and remove glasses or contacts. Rest your hands in your lap or on the arms of the chair. Take a few slow even breaths.

  • Squeeze the muscles in your forehead, holding for 15 seconds. Feel the muscles becoming tighter and tenser. Then, slowly release the tension in your forehead while counting for 30 seconds.Continue to release the tension until your forehead feels completely relaxed. Continue breathing slowly and evenly.
  • Neck and shoulders. Increase tension in your neck and shoulders by raising your shoulders up toward your ears and hold for 15 seconds. Slowly release the tension as you count for 30 seconds.
  • Arms and hands. Slowly draw both hands into fists. Pull your fists into your chest and hold for 15 seconds, squeezing as tight as you can. Then slowly release while you count for 30 seconds.
  • Slowly increase tension in your buttocks over 15 seconds. Then, slowly release the tension over 30 seconds. Notice the tension melting away. Continue to breathe slowly and evenly.
  • Slowly increase the tension in your feet and toes. Tighten the muscles as much as you can. Then slowly release the tension while you count for 30 seconds. Notice all the tension melting away. Continue breathing slowly and evenly.(Cuncic, 2019)

Enjoy the feeling of relaxation sweeping through your body. Continue to breathe slowly and evenly.

Establishing a positive mind set:

First step of a ladder to attain a score of a positive mind set starts with abiding by the demerits of labelling and negative schemas.

Sharing a Problem:Try to share your problem  rather than suppressing your emotions with the person whom you trust more.Sharing reduces your stress and fatigue.

(Share your feedback with me so I would be able to highlight persisting problems regarding mental health and much more).

The author is a psychologist.

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