Elon Musk deleting the Facebook pages of Tesla and SpaceX, volatile Cryptocurrency, the never-ending debate on how the government ought to function, the latest movie, fashion trends, happenings of the day or good old family gossip – a lot is said over a family meal. When families or friends get together at the end of a day, various subjects old and new are discussed, dissected and digested along with whatever else is on the menu for the night. Popular or controversial issues find themselves back on the dinner table like a favourite dish, reordered!
Mental Well-Being, is NOT one of them.
With the advent of new age communication technology and social media, speedy and constant communication is a touch away. Added to that, we may also spend in person, a sufficient amount of time together with those we care about. Share the tears and the laughter, be together at social fiestas and even holidays! Is it then possible, that we may delude ourselves into thinking, that we know how those we feel closest to are truly feeling or what is really weighing on their mind? Yes, it is.
The thoughts in our mind can stay veiled – Sometimes even from ourselves.
Many a times, we find ourselves changing the course of a conversation we are having, if it seems to be drifting towards a direction we don’t want it flowing into. We have become adept at creating a distance, a detachment between ourselves and our surroundings to prevent our innermost thoughts from erroneously surfacing onto the social stage. It becomes far easier for us, to hide ourselves behind the safety of an impersonal yet widely accepted mask, than just be our natural selves. This mask has become so important to us that we dare not venture a step, perhaps even within our own homes, amongst our own people – without the mask being firmly set in place. We may come to a point, where we do not recognize ourselves without the mask.
Why has this façade become an essential part of our being?
It is the relentless pressure of society, expecting us to conform, to its unyielding standards of acceptable behaviour, which has made us acutely aware that vulnerability if shown will be exploited. Perhaps even used, as a weapon to further accentuate our existing internal turmoil. Shielding ourselves from the brutality which the dark side of human nature is capable of, we build a façade around us which radiates with confidence, joy and strength – successfully fooling whoever is looking our way into thinking that all is well on our side of the greens! Even if, there is a desire to seek help, we may not know how and where to get it from. Often, we would rather not seek it, unsure if such a need even exists.
The mind flexes its muscles, deciding that wisdom prevails in keeping its thoughts hidden under wraps. Secure in the safety of its own deafening silence.
The human minds ability to pursue and attain its most ambitious goals, has been proven time and again. Here, the same innate ability, is used by the mind to disable itself own self. It carves out deep crevices within, where it can succeed in feeling phobic in a crowd, anxious amongst all things familiar or depressed in the warmth of love. Like a lone sailor, the mind can continue to wage an exhausting solitary battle with countless ravaging forces that invade it, known by their different clinical names. The sailor is forced to chase an illusion of relief by wanting to sink in deeper under the tidal wave that has been building up meticulously, threatening to pull him away from shore. The sailor is no fool – Yes, the mind senses the inevitable danger and gives out signs.
There is always a little cry for help. A SOS – as subtle as the summer breeze brushing your face or louder than the siren heard in the dead of the night.
With the flow of information across the world, an increase in education levels, awareness campaigns and health initiatives, we now have a better understanding of Emotional Well-Being than we did in the yesteryears. There is an increased sensitivity towards emotional needs as progressive generations are more willing, more confident, freer to talk about their emotions both within and outside the confines of their homes. This is a mammoth achievement however there is an undeniable live wire connect between our emotions and our mind – How you FEEL is not unrelated to how you THINK.
The journey of receding away into the shadows of the mind takes place below the visible surface and is a lonely one.
The why, when, where of its inception is at times unknown even to the traveller who may begin the journey unknowingly and before he knows find himself so deep into the dense forest of the mind, that the way back seems to be lost.
What can we do to help – Our Self and Others?
Family and friends can help by recognizing the cry for help – The SOS. Is it easy to identify the SOS and get help? No, it is not but it isn’t impossible either.
The SOS is not a word. It is made up of signs that indicate – HELP is needed!
We may feel a sense of helplessness in a situation we are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with or just cannot comprehend. The solution however is not to turn a blind eye or walk away when it concerns others or thinking that everything will sort itself with time if it is us who is affected. The mind can and does invent a list of reasons to avoid seeking help.
For others, we may hold back responding to the SOS, thinking: –
I’m not a doctor? I’m not a therapist? I’m not capable of helping!
Can I encroach into someone’s personal space?
For ourselves, we may brush our own SOS away, thinking: –
There is nothing wrong with me? This is just a phase!
I don’t need help! I don’t want to talk about it.
The kind of help needed, and the way forward is the second step. The first, is acknowledging and accepting the SOS. It is recognizing the signs that can save a life from going offshore. Your own or another.
One needs to remain: –
Aware and Connected – Only then can you hear the SOS.
Non-Judgmental – Only then can you respect the SOS you hear.
Accepting – Only then will you understand the significance of the SOS.
Proactive – Only then can you help address the SOS before its alert switches off.
Optimistic – Only then can there be hope that the SOS has been heard and will get the desired relief.
Sensitive – Only then will the SOS make itself heard again the next time you are needed.
Befriend your own mind and keep yourself connected with those you care about. Share a bit of yourself with others and you will then be able to hear the whispering SOS, resonate in any conversation – Even on the dinner table.
Urvashi Kumar Trikha