Over the past year, I was working with women situationed in a fragile, perilous situation, one that people without privilege so often find themselves in. This was in a therapeutic context, & the first thing to hit me when I went in there, was that their ’needs’ could not be more removed from the so-called domain of mental health. This was a systemic issue, a societal failure, one that required patriarchy to be addressed and policies to be changed.
I remember thinking how mental health needs would probably be at the bottom of these women’s priority list, if at all. I remember asking myself that when people are faced with issues that are much more pressing, much more obvious/immediate, even tangible - oppression, loss, deprivation - then - Mental health, why? Now, this is a fair question. We have seen everyone around going through their lives without a mental health intervention, and they seem to be ok. Then why should I acknowledge my mental health needs… that’s for people with ‘issues’… But I HAD to work with these women and in a therapeutic context only. So I ploughed ahead, carrying the doubts along. And I realized, that we may be seemingly ’normal’, contributing members of the society, but our needs arise from the fact that we are inextricably connected to these societal factors, and are subject to complex emotions.
Contribution doesn’t happen without extending something to others. Giving to others does not happen unless you have something to share. You cannot pour from an empty cup. And sooner one accepts it, the lesser the burden on oneself. I remember Dr. Shyam Bhat saying how many people carry a heavy load with them, all their lives, without knowing that they don’t have to. The journey onwards from acknowledging one’s own mental health needs, is the one of self awareness, and transformation. The sooner we do it, the better. We are all wrecked, darlings, and the only ones we can save are our own selves.