Two years ago, I was consumed with sadness.

This unexplainable, overbearing, outrageously powerful sadness that seemed to mercilessly permeate every facet of my life, leaving me suffocated in a seemingly endless cycle of hopelessness, pain and turmoil. This feeling persisted relentlessly for almost a year before I got access to the suitable resources necessary to constructively and productively battle it.

However, my struggle was still gravely undermined and constantly negated. People around me made significant efforts to rationalize and reason out this sadness, however the conclusion that everyone repeatedly found themselves at was that this feeling I was feeling was something that was strictly under my control. I was told time and time again that a show of strength and resilience was all that was needed to surpass this difficult time and that I wasn’t putting sufficient amounts of effort into bettering my own state of mind. I had accurately and aggressively encapsulated every symptom of depression, yet not a single person who had an intimate insight into my life had the slightest inkling that maybe that is what this was. The lack of awareness and education surrounding mental health is beyond grave, and the implications of this that manifests itself in a dense, layered stigma has catastrophic effects on our society as a whole.

It is almost intrinsic for us to trivialize and dilute what we may be going through by comparing our circumstance and pain to that of others. As someone that did this habitually, I can tell you that this is possibly the biggest injustice you can do yourself. What you feel and are going through is valid and deserves to be dealt with properly, regardless of how miniscule your problems seem on a relative scale or in the eyes of others. Another thing we tend to do is invalidate or diminish our feelings, through instilling this sense of guilt upon ourselves. Most of us are incredibly privileged and live a life free of any sort of deprivation (materialistic, at least) and while this is highly important to acknowledge and appreciate, it does not make you immune to the brunt of human emotion.

Feeling intensely hopeless and sad, despite having nothing tangible in your environment to attribute these feelings to, does not extenuate what you are going through and most definitely doesn’t make what you are feeling ‘wrong’. As cliché as this sounds, bottling things up is excruciatingly toxic. Train and condition yourself to be vulnerable with yourself and explore the intricacies of the detailed spectrum of emotions. Making efforts to embrace and understand the complexity of your own emotion can be immensely daunting but is the ONLY way you will ever be able to start healing. I understand how isolating feelings of sadness can be and how sometimes because they are so unexplainable or seemingly incomprehensible, how lonely they can make you feel. But you are not alone (again, cliché, but true); this is a wholehearted promise I’m making to anyone reading this who is potentially going through a rough time.

Being vulnerable and raw can be scary to no extent, but reach out, speak to someone, anyone you feel safe with, at least for starters. There is absolutely no shame in using external means such as counselling or therapy as a means to cope with the intensity of human emotion. Sometimes things will get complicated, and deciphering the nuances of what you may be going through will need the aid of someone that is able to provide you with neutral, objective and unbiased insight and analysis. Be kind, sensitive and make it a habit to check up on your friends, it’s really not that much of a task. If you see someone struggling don’t let it slip or go unchecked. Speak to them. Remind them of the value that is attached to their mere existence. Remind them of the love and care that people possess for them and urge them to the best of your capability to reach out and get professional help. I hope to god that one day, this stigma around mental illness will cease to exist.

-Tanvi Amba, 12 ISC

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