• 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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In order to move forward in life, it is essential to revisit your past.

It is often suggested to “move on” or “ignore” the events which cause one distress. It is a skill to use but an act of courage when to use it. I am a survivor of abuse, at best all forms of abuse with a continuum mild to severe. I started seeing world in the easiest way, polarized. It was either people love me or hate me, two couldn’t exist in the same space. It was either I was wanted or unwanted. It was either I am born for a purpose or I am incapable.

Gradually, it became unusually abnormal, I would trust with all my belief in humanity or I would completely disconnect from people. You either support me the way it helps me, empowers me or you stand against me. I decided to fight the battles all by myself. These battles included, the fear of being abandoned, the stigma attached to mental health and ruminate over traumatic experiences of abuse.

While many articles and stories explain the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder in detail, I want to attempt to express the struggles of unlearning what is taught and re-learn how to live with my own defects. I have volunteered to take therapeutic support and psychiatric medication for three years aiming to feel better and reduce my pain. I was and I am afraid to die by suicide. That is not the purpose of my life and this agency was enriched in my disorganized thought pattern via therapeutic support.

It came with self-doubt and lack of consistent support over the years to believe in myself. I always constructed the image of self-enmeshed with my family’s concept, belief system and rituals. It did always elicit thoughts of moral judgement but a woman in the Indian society is treated like a non-verbal animal. You are expected to pretend to be mute than opinionate or put it forth. May be this piece is a result of one such act.

It is events like these where a person diagnosed with BPD begins questioning their self-worth. This begins the triggering point to invite the process of rumination. For an individual like me, I question myself worth and relive each traumatic memory of abuse if It was meant to happen to me because I’ll never be enough for anyone, not even myself. Therapy did train me to understand that this feeling arises from the symptoms as a sufferer, but no one tells you the algorithm or formula of having a basis in reality which strengthens a BPD patient feeling lonely, unworthy, and being isolated.

People today don’t have relational boundaries, there is over crowding or absolutely no contact. Is this not a conflict at stand? Imagine all those therapies, medicines, and efforts to constantly become comfortable with the grey areas of life, and you are expected to accept reality the next minute. Reality today revolves around everyone wanting attention to the extent they manipulate relationships, they all want to become popular, they all want to be known and there is increased physical intimacy irrespective of traditional ground rules. Ethics and rules are applied where convenient, the difference is stated when suitable and the policies are followed when plausible. What happened to ideas of comfort and love of your dear ones, what happened to stories of trust and faith? A person with BPD does feel immensely more than any one of you, but when their assumptions see face of reality, they begin to realise, they will never be enough, never for their parents, partner or self. They choose animals over humans and view the fakeness of today’s social media to damage their personal life.

In this racing world today, a patient with BPD is not dramatic, is not insane, is not feeling too much. I differ here, they reflect on their past to move forward because their childhood reality constructed them and they believe, feelings need to be respected. When she found herself lost in the crowd, she experienced anxiety. Little did anyone notice, she kept her eyes down, became quiet because she was fighting with the inner beast of her illness, of feeling lost. When she couldn’t take it, she ran to therapy, cried all night, deliberately harm herself and then create a scene, it was a cry for help to be saved because no one wants to die by suicide. That she is I, that girl is a woman who went through feeling unsafe and still does, creates a scene, is labeled negative and still continues to live. When I stand by my people, they see the world I show them in their misery because they are protected from the violence of my inner thoughts and failing self.

Empathy goes beyond the dogma of polarized thinking for a BPD but no one questions that for our humanity, because it is convenient to all, all of you family, friends and the fake world of humanity!

I am hurting today but smiling because my world is insane but sanity exists in my acceptance of my own self – Celebrating being a woman, survivor, psychologist.

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