by Marie Nadia Aboui (alias MrsKiss Kay)
We live in an increasingly dehumanized world, in which appearances are more important than well-being, or admitting that one is not well is considered as a weakness. Indeed, it is better to pretend than to show one's helplessness in such a cold world. But why is mental health so taboo? Why should seeing a therapist be seen as something only for “crazy” people? All of these questions come up when we talk about the sensitive subject of Mental Health.
What is mental health?
According to the , mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which a person can achieve self-fulfillment, overcome the normal stresses of life, perform productive work and contribute to the life of his or her community. In this positive sense, mental health is the foundation of an individual's well-being and the functioning of a community.
Mental health is therefore a prerequisite for our well-being. And yet, in our society, it is totally overshadowed or even ignored.
Why is mental health so taboo?
In fact, it is often seen as shameful to be in a state of low morale and as a weakness to admit it. Not having the strength to get up in the morning is considered a whim or pure laziness. And yet, it goes much deeper than that. But the truth is that the outside world doesn't necessarily want to be informed about your problems, and in fact they may even find it very embarrassing. They prefer to discuss superficial things with you, and change the subject when it becomes too personal. When you talk about your problems you remind them of their own concerns, and they just don't want to think about it. In the end, people who are not doing well prefer to hide in a destructive silence, just so as not to embarrass those around them. This is how the number of people who have a breakdown increases as many people think that talking about their problems is annoying others. At this rate, we will never get out of this infernal spiral!
You should start by disassociating yourself from the people who are unable to support you in difficult times. It is also important to speak up in order to put words on your ills. There is no shame in this, because depression does not make an announcement and does not invite itself at a table based on how someone looks.
One can have no history or psychological disorders, be a normal citizen, and fall into the net of depression.
A few factors that can cause Depression
There are several factors that can lead to this situation. The word Depression brings us to the word Pressure, and it is not insignificant. Indeed, Pressure can cause a person to crack. There are different types of pressure:
(1) Mental Load
Let's take the example of domestic mental load, which is defined as follows according to Psychomedia. Mental load is a term that has recently become popularized to refer to the invisible cognitive load represented by the organization of everything in the domestic sphere: household chores, appointments, errands, childcare, etc. The mental burden falls, most often, very largely on women.
As is clearly evident, many women feel the effects of mental load. Women are perceived by society as "Wonder Women", that is, women who are on all fronts and who manage all aspects of their family lives without compromising their performance at work. Alas, juggling their professional careers and their homes is a big challenge for many women, and in trying to meet this challenge, many women have ended up in tough situations. That's why Wonder Woman is a fictional character, because there is no such thing as the perfect woman. Even when you're stay-at-home moms, it's impossible to organize everything perfectly. Women are strongly advised to delegate tasks, use babysitting services, housekeeping services, etc. in order to free up time for themselves and regain a work-life balance. As for men, they should be Gentlemen 2.0, which implies being real life partners who support their wives. A man who aspires to a harmonious relationship should be concerned about his wife's well-being and do everything possible to help her with domestic chores.
Another form of pressure is professional exhaustion especially known as “burnout”. The desire to make incredible numbers at all costs or to put your heart and soul into getting promoted can be dangerous, as you end up forgetting yourself and sometimes turning away from what’s important. It's great to have goals, but choosing a healthy way to reach them is much better.
(3) Sudden Life Changes
Also, any kind of sudden change in someone's life can lead to a state of depression. It can be a break-up, a divorce, job loss, an illness, losing a loved one, the arrival of a newborn, which in some cases causes postpartum depression, or the loss of a child which is a terrible pain for parents, to name just a few.
(4) Your Inner Circle
In addition, being surrounded by violent people, narcissists, and toxic people can also be harmful. Knowing how to choose the loving and friendly relationships in which we engage, is crucial to our mental health.
There are a thousand and one reasons that can lead us to live through such a difficult period, that we come to question our existence. In this situation, being able to count on those around you is vital. It is also essential that those close to you sympathize, that they know above all how to react, because under no circumstances should we minimize the suffering of others. One should avoid making the victim feel more guilty (Victim Shaming). Let us learn to find the right words to comfort those in need. It takes a lot of courage for some people to confide in someone, so the person listening should be wise enough to find the right words to reassure the victim.
How to deal with depression?
There are 3 steps necessary to get out of this profound distress. First of all, one must become aware that one is not well, then one must identify the potential causes of one's unhappiness and finally get help.
When you are not feeling well and you don't want to do anything, you must not feel guilty about feeling this way. There is no point in repressing dark thoughts if you have them, you should rather accept them and tame them by taking concrete actions. We must set ourselves up as masters of our destiny, ask ourselves the right questions and make the right decisions. It is a first step to become truly aware that we are in a state of depression, but what do we do to get better?
A panoply of possibilities is open to us! We can go back to sports for example or find activities that we love to do. We can make an appointment at a spa for a massage or other treatments related to relaxation. If you are a spiritual person, you can pray, to refocus on God, or do Yoga to relax. You can break the routine by setting new goals. Why not learn a new language, a new dance, a new recipe? You can also choose to volunteer to feel useful and enjoy helping others. You can visit family and/or friends or take a solo trip to the other side of the world. Several options are possible, and don't hesitate to go see a therapist if you feel the need. Above all, you must make the effort to get moving and regain a taste for life's little pleasures.
“It is high time to deconstruct the idea that going to see a therapist is madness! What is madness is rather refusing to get help! The person who suffers the most is not the one who admits that he (she) is not well, but rather the one who goes to so much trouble to prove to everyone that he (she) is well. As much as the first person is on the road to recovery, the other person will sink even deeper into depression.”
According to the WHO report, mental health is one of the most neglected areas of public health, with countries spending only 2% of their health budgets on mental health. And there are relatively few people in the world who receive good quality mental health services. What a pity!
We can easily see that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental well-being of the population have been disastrous. We’re thinking especially of the healthcare workers who are on the front lines in the fight against the virus. Despite all their good will, and their desire to continually save lives, the extreme workload has caused many to experience breakdowns. Even working in healthcare does not immunize them against the perverse effects of depression.
Mental health is everyone's business because tomorrow's prosperous society needs functional and fulfilled people. For this reason, it is essential to set aside a significant budget to meet the various challenges in the field of mental health.
At our level, let us redouble our imagination and take concrete action in our regions, our cities, our neighbourhoods, in order to put balm in the heart of people directly affected by the health crisis, of isolated people, of people weakened by the blows of life. A charitable act is never lost and can heal more than one.
I invite you to read below, the impactful speech of Brian Dyson, the former CEO of Coca-Cola.
“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them work, family, health, friends, and spirit and you're keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that ‘work’ is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls - family, health, friends and spirit - are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life. Work efficiently during normal office hours and leave work on time. Spend the necessary time with family and friends. Exercise, eat and relax properly. And above all, believe in the inner life, the spiritual, which is the most transcendental because it is eternal.”
What I take away from this speech is that it is essential to have a balance in our lives and to strive to maintain it. In all the actions we take and the decisions we make, we have to make sure that no crucial aspect of our lives is neglected, without putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves. Above all, we must have a sense of priorities because there are choices in life that are decisive and that deserve our full attention.
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