The Reflections Team reached out to Mind Piper, a social enterprise that envisions a society where people can seek help for mental health issues without any fear of stigma or discrimination. They were helpful enough to support our endeavour, by sharing with us a real story of a person with mental health concerns so that we can know more about their experiences. Here is an honest and relatable piece written by Soteri (name changed).
Of Unlearning the Story of Me
If you’d look at me, you’d probably think that I’ve had a very happy childhood. Well, yes. I do have some good memories of my childhood. My father getting me my favourite ice cream, me sitting on the kitchen platform and making roti out of the last bit of dough, going for cycling with my friends, singing for the guests who’d come home for dinner, and some more. But what I also distinctly remember are instances when I’d start crying after losing in the passing the parcel game at a friend’s birthday party, instances when I’d start crying if the teachers didn’t give me the lead role in the annual day performance play, when I’d start crying after my brother informed me that the noise of the firecrackers that he was about to burst would be startling, when I’d start crying after mom would tell me not to goout and play because she wanted me to study for my science exam the next day. Oh, those instances are endless! I’d cry at almost anything and everything. “…the first label that was bestowed upon me was that of a ‘cry baby’ and its impact will never leave me.”
I have been labelled as ‘fat’ and ‘short’ through most of my life. But the first label that was bestowed upon me was that of a ‘cry baby’ and its impact will never leave me. I am a woman in my teens who still cries more often than not, more than what a woman of my age is expected too. But it’s only recently that I’ve learn to accept my flaws and live with them comfortably.
The term ‘cry baby’ scarred the way I looked at myself even long after I’d entered high school. People close to me thought that I would cry to gain sympathy and attention, and they continue to think on similar lines. But little did they know that even I didn’t know why I’d cry and moreover, didn’t know how to stop my tears from rolling down my cheeks. But now, I do. But I also know that nobody would understand my reasons.
“I shut down myself from everyone and walked around as a scared adult who was always scared to express herself because of the fear of being judged or labelled.” Having been called a ‘cry baby’ since very early on in my life, the thought of crying in front of everyone would eventually take me on a guilt trip, making me completely conscious, because it would remind me that something was wrong with me — that I shouldn’t be crying so much — that I needed to be strong — I need to have a hold over my emotions. Ishut down myself from everyone and walked around as a scared adult who was always scared to express herself because of the fear of being judged or labelled. I recently endured a tough phase when I wasn’t able to live life ‘normally.’ I visited a mental health professional upon the insistence of close friends. At first, I was scared, but as I took more sessions, I felt like a baggage was taken off my chest. I was suffering from PTSD — Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder — because of a personal reason, mentioning which would need another separate post, so I’ll skip that. I told my therapist about my early childhood, my family, my heartbreaks, and about my crying spells. My therapist told me that crying was my coping mechanism for any stressful situation, which was a result of my anxiety. I’d cry because I couldn’t find the right words to say or the right way to express my anger. I also told him that crying did make me feel better and lighter. I opened up to him, and he explained to me that I must accept myself the way I am and not feel ashamed. I’ve been prescribed some medicines to keep my mood-swings under control.
“I’m no longer ashamed of myself, though. I have begun to love myself for my flaws and for the person that I am.”
Well, therapy is still going on and life does seem better. The crying hasn’t stopped completely, but it has reduced. I’m no longer ashamed of myself, though. I have begun to love myself for my flaws and for the person that I am. I am coping well with anxiety and taking care of myself.
I’m glad that I have friends and a supportive family who pushed me to seek medical help. Had it not been for them, I’d probably never stop hating myself for being a ‘cry baby.’ I still do, a little, but I know that the feeling will leave me soon. Sometimes, some people are luckier than the rest; the people who are guided towards light; guided towards healing. But, everybody isn’t. The next time you observe a person crying or breaking down more than usual, stop yourself from being judgemental about them. If you can, listen to them, be there for them. If you can’t do the former, at least don’t say anything harmful that will make things tougher for them. Mental health is serious. Mental health is real. I wish to see a day where everyone would be encouraged to take routine mental health check-ups, just like the physical routine check-ups. I wish to see a day where mental health is given the same importance as physical health, because that’s what it deserves!
About Mind Piper
Mind Piper is a social enterprise that envisions a society where people can seek help for mental health issues without any fear of stigma or discrimination. In this endeavour, we are bringing out the stories of people with mental health concerns so that we can know more about their experiences. Hope you liked this honest and relatable piece written by Soteri (name changed). At Mind Piper, we want to make mental health accessible to everyone. We conduct participatory and innovative workshops around mental health awareness. We also offer holistic counselling and therapy services through various channels such as over a call, video-call, or in person.