It’s World’s Mental Health Day today, so I am not going to hit you with the statistics like some bloggers will. I’d like to dedicate this day and show you some retrospection from my case. My problems begun when I was coming to adulthood. It was the third year of high school and I was 18 at the time when I had my first panic attack and social anxiety. The situation escalated to the point where I had to skip school and stay home. My mental problems concerning depression and antisocial behavior manifested physically, where I had strong stomach aches, cramps, nausea and hyperventilation whenever I had to leave home. Of course, I kept my problems to myself as every man does by habit, but my parents noticed sudden changes in behavior, my energy drainage, my lack of interest for things I previously enjoyed. As people not used to see these things, they connected these mood shifts to hormones and age I was in like something normal and expected. The gravity of things concerned them to the point they figured it was more than they hoped for and got scared for my wellbeing. So, they tried taking me to the doctors, asked for a specialist and I did all of the analysis the hospital had at it’s disposal. The results showed I was in perfect condition, so they just let me go, since the problem wasn’t of physical nature and they had nothing to fix.
However, the problem was there, I had strong episodes which left them petrified and more important, I wasn’t functioning well. This brought them to share their problems with people and friends, even if the mental health is still considered a taboo topic in the third world countries. I mean, people with mental problems often get characterized as loonies, coocoos, and other sort of names, as people who are highly unstable and vicious. Having that information travels around, the rumors naturally got inflated and eventually everyone had a theory what was happening to me. From socializing with bad people, to using drugs and paying a toll for it, to joining a sect and bring influenced by heavy metal, aka satanistic music, I had a village seer telling my grandma that I should visit a monastery and follow the path of God for salvation. It’s was somewhat expected and predictable situation. I mean, third world country, people, it’s a place where high tech age meets the tradition and customs dating from the dawn of time, and it’s a mixture I came to love and appreciate, but there are these moments where you just have to sit, cross your hands and laugh out loud.
The fact was, I wasn’t violent, just bummed out, sad, introverted, out of will and energy, without goals and hopes. And things got better when I visited a military hospital with a military doctor who is accustomed to dealing with soldiers and mental problems. It was the first time someone diagnosed me properly, and gave me a prescription to some happy pills to pull me out the hole. Treatment went well, and I was back on my feet in a month. I was back to school, back into society, with my friends, with the people I love and people that loved me. Those happy days lasted up to the first year of university where I had small episodes, but pushed through them and got my degree in the end. I had some more episodes ten year later, which is some years in the back and I still have panic attacks, but not as strong and often as before. All I am saying, I am working on it, and things are much better than high school. I avoid talking about it because I try to avoid having sympathetic conversations or champion my problem as something that defines me. It’s something I struggle with, something I keep carrying with me, and that’s the end of the story. In some way, I am not looking for to have that depression talks shine over someone else’s story that is probably more serious than mine. If there are people who are healing, and talking about their problems help vent, I am not going to take that away from them with my sappy stories. I let people speak, and I just listen to what they are saying. Sometimes, that is all someone needs to do, just sit down, cross your hands, and focus on the words people tell you. I know that venting was helpful, and I know what’s like when someone starts talking over me about their problem, which makes me shut up and give them space, space that was reserved for me and what bothered me.
To short this post in one line, I’d like to give you an advice. Just sit down, cross your hands, and listed to your interlocutor. You don’t need to say anything, just listen, and that’s all you have to do. Being there is more support and help than actually doing or saying anything.
So, this was my experience, and it still is to this day whenever I have to leave the house, go to the city to finish some paperwork, or just meet with a friend. I need an hour to calm down before entering the car, and another hour to collect my courage and face the music. Sometimes it’s the hardest thing, and another day it’s nothing more than a routine task. That’s me, that’s what I am going through, and it’s improving.