• Sanjoni

Updated: Jun 26

Actor Sushant Singh Rajput's recent death by suicide seems to have surprised people across the globe. Numerous questions are being asked. Some of the media agencies have taken the liberty to comment upon the professional politics that has caused this heartbreaking incident. The actor's friends and colleagues have posted on social media painting a positive picture regarding his personality. His loyal followers have questioned his decision to look at his celebrated profile in the entertainment industry. Last but not the least, everyone in the country has felt this as a personal loss.

An actors' death brought in the wave of another pandemic – the crisis of mental health!

Like everyone else, this news was shocking to me however it was an acceptable event. We seem to have missed the death attempts and deliberate self-harm other than those of celebrities. It could be taking place due to any reason but it existed much before actor Sushant Singh Rajput decided to die by suicide.

School and college students, unemployed young adults, survivors of abuse, and women are vulnerable people who have engaged in self-harm and attempted suicide. People with mental health conditions are always outcasted for suicide and self-harm. School and college students end up losing their life as part of a romanticized notion of expressing love, bullying, and discrimination by peers or teachers, fulfilling expectations of parents, and are unknown to the idea of self-care.

In India, unemployment is a permanent friend to people than a person. There seems to be a lack of financial security which makes people less independent. The feeling of losing independence also brings in feeling powerless. The feeling to not be in control and lose power can create experiences of helplessness in people. Similar helplessness is experienced by survivors of abuse (men and women) who have been deprived of the power of consenting. At last, women who seem to struggle for their equal rights and position in the country have been at the receiving end of female infanticide and domestication. Since years suicides have been alarming but a hype was created because a man who was celebrated and assumed to have it all attempted the act.

There were less celebrated actors like Jiah Khan and the mental health was not even mentioned at that time. It is almost like we have a problem with the ordinary, average, or moderate. While we aim to strike a balance in our life, we seem to reject the average in us. Filmstars are human beings too!

The professional and personal lives of filmstars are diffused. The boundaries between the two lives are celebrated equally. It is still possible to have a private space in that person which remains unknown to others. Just like in our lives, it is possible in their life. Similar to the sense of belongingness we need, we also look-out for private safe space to let the mask off. The mask from the responsibilities of different roles we play in our life. Sushant Singh Rajput would have also had his self-goals, relationship goals, professional goals, and a past.

Financial insecurity and mental health condition of the actor have been highlighted since the beginning of this news. We are doing exactly what we did when he was alive. We are finding a reason to accept his absence when we should mourn his loss. One step at a time. His presence was never a reason enough to know about his lifestyle, childhood, interests, and maladaptive patterns that possibly could have allowed someone to reach out to him. A person in a state of mind where they think of attempting to suicide or self-harm is not thinking rationally. Isn't it unreasonable on our part as a society to tell them to reach out to us? We need to learn reach-in than ask someone to reach-out.

A conventional person struggles to reach-out, it must have been so overwhelming for a high-profile person like Sushant Singh to find a space to share. Other than work, emotions, and mental health there is a biological functioning of the person which is the core. Interestingly, it has gone unnoticed how the biological operations of our body have been disregarded from this practice. Mostly, celebrated film stars, comedians, musicians, and other entertainers have a dysregulated schedule. They work odd hours which disturbs the original sleep cycle and food intake. They compensate for their energy and performance using substances. These also alter personality and moods. Some of them follow routines such as exercising regime, healthy food, and mediation to feel calm.

There are roles they have to gain weight and immediately reduce those extra pounds which is not easy in the usual lifestyle. Their work is such that physical appearance makes all the difference. This induces a discrepant feeling between the real and perceived self. This difference is not only for the audience, but it also plays a role in their mind. In the end, all that there is Sushant Singh Rajput has his version of self which wasn't the masked one. It struggled and to release that pain he attempted to the ordinary method of hanging himself just like you and me!

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  • Sanjoni

She needs to be cared for! He can overcome it!

A man or a woman, both can be survivors of traumatic incidents. Rape, assault, molestation, stalking, and starring are not gender-specific. Instead, these forms of abusive trauma are gender-neutral. Man or woman, both feel helpless when deprived of consent.

Trauma-related to abuse has always led an eye of sympathy towards a girl or rejected her. A part of society finds her incapable and the other half character shames. For boys, we hardly acknowledge that they can be at the receiving end of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse. If anyone does, it is negotiated even before it has registered in our mind. We ignore it when we ask them to man up.

While survivors of abuse re-experience the traumatic event or incidents repeatedly feeling threatened, there is an alternative to the post-traumatic experience. It is well-known as post-traumatic growth. The difference of opinion allows people to interpret abusive incidents differently for their survivors. But their empathic ability has remained out of focus for many years. People receive socially constructed ideologies for themselves.

One of them makes survivors appear less capable. Family members try to hide the story of the survivor. There is shame attached to abuse which is experienced by the survivor and their loved ones. Has anyone questioned the shame? A survivor is not the one at fault for the incident. On the contrary, it is a lack of consent and impulsive traits of the predator that need to be condemned. It is tiring for a survivor to continue their life carrying a burden. The burden of abuse, shame, and rejection.

An unknown burden exists in some survivors, the burden of empathy!

Empathy makes us keep ourselves in the shoes of another to experience their feelings. First of all, it is nearly impossible to experience or imagine the feelings of another. For example, you might be a mother and you experience the joy of your son returning home from abroad. Another parent might attempt to understand this feeling and experience a relatively close emotion to joy. However, to experience the absolute is impossible. Relationships and family dynamics vary across families. This is why some women prefer to not have a child and do not share the emotion with other women to experience joy in motherhood. The change in generations has brought a new lifestyle, communication style, and thinking style. Therefore, empathy is an attempt to arrive at a very close approximation of feelings experienced by others.

In a way, it is better to have it this way than carry the emotional experiences of others in our lives. It would complicate things than have people understand each other. Imagine feeling frustration your friend felt when they failed an exam. That sort of empathy is scary than caring!

Survivors are not less capable or have become weaker. According to cognitive understanding, they experience reduced threshold levels. The potential to tolerate pain reduces in some people. In contrast, some argue experiencing pain increases the threshold levels and the person requires greater amounts of pain to feel it. It is how addiction works. Similarly, survivors also develop empathic sensitivity. An ability to empathize with others and experience their pain just as your own.

Empathetic sensitive individuals are present all around us without having to undergo any form of abuse. But survivors have a tendency to be vigilant. They are known to be hypervigilant. It is almost like looking-out for signs and signals that can put them into danger. Besides evaluating the environment for their survival, they begin to pick up the nuances of other people. For example, noticing a person usually talks using common words. When they find those missing or the tone of talking slightly varying, it rings a bell in their mind. A slight change is easily noticed by survivors.

Sometimes such people put others before them in times of need. It becomes their responsibility to make the other person feel better. In return, they are actually trying to make themselves feel better.

Empathy is a privileged skill to have!

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Updated: Jul 24

A long-known notion has been followed regarding mental illnesses. A person with mental illness is described as “paagal” and is imagined to behave eccentrically. A wide number of people belonging to the older generation commonly addressed as gen x understand a person with mental illness as having a lower intellectual quotient, life-threatening to others around them, and would talk, scream and shout to itself. It seems like mental illness is either intellectual disability or schizophrenia. There is no other approximate description of mental illness.

Our society has only gained information from numerous sources on how mental health appears. There was never a platform to validate that information. So, the stigma attached to depression and anxiety comes from a culturally-rooted understanding of feeling dull. Earlier it was not considered that losing a job created the tension that could reach a level of anxiety. Living in a joint family was an essential support system for people to manage the so-called tension and not let it reach a stage of clinical anxiety.

It is innocence over stigma. It is lack of comprehending the changes and transition which have taken place from a decade ago. There is awareness which is that mental well-being is of utmost priority to an individual. It is a form of daily living when grandparents use narratives to talk about their struggle and share the moral of spreading happiness. It would be appropriate to say that there is a lack of mindfulness that mental illnesses are a part of mental wellbeing. It is the innocence of limited resources, experiences, and information that mental illness can be other than IQ and Schizophrenia. It could be depression which is the right to do with happiness as it governs a state of mind of a person. It is a mood disorder that reduces the source of pleasure, in turn, reducing happiness.

The awareness campaign needs a paradigm shift from stigma to different mental health conditions, childhood experiences manifesting in adulthood, parenting, and family dynamics. Slowly but gradually people need to know mental illnesses include OCD, Self-harm, pathological lying, addiction, personality disorders, and motor disorders. Only when people know will they accept mental health as a priority as the need of the hour. Mental health is compartmentalized into an era of IQ and Schizophrenia and the new decades talking about depression and anxiety.

We need to normalize mental well-being and different mental illnesses will follow. We need to make people mindful about other mental health conditions and acceptance will come when they are sensitized about the conditions!

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