A dad suffering from depression writes a letter to his son to let him know what it means to be mentally ill.
Here is something I have been meaning to write to you for years. Let me start by giving you a glimpse of my life many many years ago.
8:00 AM… Breakfast on the table…Check; 8:15 AM…Getting the son ready for school …Check; 8:30 AM…Packing his bag and his tiffin box …Check; 8:32 AM…Running to switch off the stove…But the boiling milk pours out and so do my tears…Evaporation…Check; Breakdown…Check.
I would have been devastated:
Ever since your mum passed away in that ill-fated car accident 2 years ago, I have been fighting the chronic depression that initially hit me like a thunderbolt only to rise to a volcano deep inside. If not for you my son, I would have been devastated long back leading to the path of self-destruction.
Initially, I could not even realize the mental illness that was breeding inside me like a parasite, it’s a pity that in our country mental illness or disorder is shamed and misunderstood. It is more brutal for men suffering from this disease because, hey, we have been conditioned to believe that “Men don’t cry.”
Your dad is suffering from depression:
Like every other day, today started with – juggling- the daily chores and holding back a few tears with all my might. But then came a threshold point of the milk pouring out and I could no longer hold myself back. In between whimpering and wiping tears in hurried motion, you stood in front of me. You came around and hugged me and said, “Dad, I have noticed that you have been sad for a really long time and I want to tell you that it is okay to cry and to share your pain with me”.
My Tears were flowing again, only this time, the reason had a happier tinge. I could not have been more proud of you, my son who showed that sensitivity knows no gender.
Here are a few things that you have taught me with that magical line wrapped ever so gently in that warm hug, my son, and I’d like to share this with everyone out there who is reading this…
1. It is most definitely fine to shed a tear or 2 irrespective of the gender, crying is not a sign of weakness, but instead, it is a sign of being a deeply emotional individual
2. Depression signs range from mood swings, feeling of insomnia, excessive fatigue, and hunger, agitated behavioral pattern, lack of concentration, sudden weight gain or loss, a random chain of thoughts. If you experience any of these signs, please seek help. You might want to begin by sharing your thoughts with someone you trust and then gradually move on to seek professional help
3. Nothing works if you are not determined to get better, get happier. I initially lived in denial until I had no other way to work towards being happier. So the willpower and faith to seek transformation are of utmost importance. Remember, you are on ground zero, either you tilt towards the negative zone or the positive one. The choice ALWAYS remains with you
4. It might be a good idea to go inwards and indulge in introspection. It helps to change age-old perceptions shackled by traditional barriers
5. Teach children to be compassionate and lead them to the broader canvas of life rather than conditioning their growth in tiny rat holes.
6. Holding back the painful emotions, really hurts. When you cry these emotions are released along with the tears and the pain disappears which is good for your physical and mental health. Never ever hold your tears or your emotions.
7. Accepting that you are under depression and you need help is not a sign of weakness but that of courage. Take that first step to open out and share your feelings.
8. The realization that you have to come out of the negativity will be an important step towards getting better.
9. Being engaged in a hobby helps. Also being surrounded by good friends or close relatives is a plus point instead of suffering in solitude. They are the people who may have passed through your phase or understand your emotional state.
10. Do not try to hide your emotional state from your family or children. Share your happiness as well as grief. Let it be a lesson to them when they have to cope with a similar situation.
Dear Society, STOP JUDGING! Dear Men, Dear Brother, Dear Dad, Dear Husband, Dear Son, Dear Boyfriend, Dear Lover, and Dear Friend, shake a little, shed a tear…
Just BREATH AND CRY and let the steam out…Without guilt.
Thank you, son, for being there!
Disclaimer: If you or someone you know shows any of the warning signs, please don’t hesitate in seeking professional help. Book an appointment with the counsellor.
Originally written by Usri Sen
Additional inputs from C. Radhika