Only in recent years, with the deaths of celebrities such as Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain or Robin Williams, has the topic of suicide and depression been taken seriously in the south Asian community.
Before, mental health problems were often brushed off in our community as having a lack of faith, being ungrateful, or in some cases, a sign of witchcraft or spiritual possession by some evil demon (yes, I am serious).
But mental health is severely misunderstood in our culture and now is the time it MUST be taken seriously.
In the last several years, there has been a steady increase in the rate of suicides each years, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
“Suicide rates have been rising in nearly every state, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans age 10 or older died by suicide. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and is one of just three leading causes that are on the rise.”
Depression is treatable.
Suicide is preventable.
And one of the ways it is, is by is counseling.
I’m curious to see what the general consensus is amongst south Asians on seeking therapy is.
I ask because it was common (for me, at least) to hear “only people with issues need therapy”. So do south Asians, in general, still believe that?
Therapy saved my life.
I went through a traumatic event in my life and was subsequently diagnosed with clinical depression. I stopped eating. I shut myself in a dark room. I didn’t want to meet anyone. I barely took care of myself and didn’t have the will or energy to take care of my two kids. I lost weight. I started losing my hair. I quit my job. I felt alone even though my family was worried about me and sought to “cheer me up”.
I wanted to die.
It didn’t matter how much I prayed and how often I did zikr (rememberance of God), I was in a dark hole – sinking deeper everyday.
I’m not ashamed to say that I briefly went on anti-depressants. It got me out of that hole and back out into the world. But I didn’t want to be on it forever. So when I felt like I was fine again, I weaned myself off of the medications. But because of the current situation I was dealing with at home at the time, I started to sink back into that hole.
So I sought therapy. And it was a blessing. I had, who I think, is the best therapist ever. I took me a few years to fully recover from what I went through, but because of her, I am here today five years later. I rebuilt my life with a new home, new marriage and a new child.
I’ve heard many people say “therapy doesn’t work…they just sit and listen to you, offer you nothing and take your money”. I wholeheartedly disagree. My advice – do not listen to people who say that. If you feel like you are falling into a hole and cannot get out, seek help. Seek therapy. Talk to licensed therapist, a psychiatrist or a psychologist. You are not alone.
For those fortunate enough to not be suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts, please keep an eye out for your loved one who may be suffering. Please do not ignore the red flags or brush them off as attention seekers.
I write this hoping that it helps someone who may be reading this.
I write this hoping to change the negative stigma many carry about therapy. There is nothing wrong with asking for help from those trained to do so.
I write this hoping to potentially save a life.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline