Year after year, we like to believe that mental health acceptance is making strides forward in our country. We comfort ourselves with online posts telling us to talk to someone, anyone, reach out for help, and also by trying to aid others in need of assistance. Sometimes, however, we come across stories that force us to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of mental health. The depth of this segment of health is beyond what we see around us.
Rupsha Bose, an independent journalist and content specialist, narrated the tale of her diagnosis with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and how acceptance for her seems far fetched, getting better remains hopeful at best, and the grim reality of how those suffering from mental illnesses are isolated from society.
Full disclosure; her story is hurtful and grievous but it is real. We bring it to you, in her own voice.
Trigger Warning: This story contains occurrences of self-harm and childhood trauma.
(If you are suffering due to poor mental health, we urge you to seek help – trust us, there is no shame in that. You may use our guide to find a mental health specialist.)
In To Kill A Mockingbird (1960), author Harper Lee says, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from their point of view… until you climb into their skin and walk around in it.” He hardly would have known that only a handful of people would understand this in a developing country like India.
This is a personal parable and describes my journey through this system while I faced both the inner and outer demons.
Sometimes, when you feel you have put in all the effort required to possibly stitch your life together and make a beautiful embroidery out of the scars that life has given you, life throws a sharp pair of scissors, and soon, the stitches fall apart. In 2020, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Before that, I was thought to have only anxiety and depression and was misdiagnosed several times. Of course, for me, it was difficult to come to terms with it, but somewhere down the line, I knew that I had to deal with it in the best possible way. My parents struggled to understand this, and truly, I believe only I know how it felt.
Let me take you back in time to my childhood. It all started when I was in 11th grade. I felt the pain, the guilt, the hunger for appreciation and acknowledgement, the lust for perfection, and the need to be noticed and loved. The notion of being the perfect child was continuously ingrained in me, and whenever I couldn’t be that for my parents, I would take my mother’s shaving blade and make a cut in my body, not just to subside the mental angst, but replace it with physical pain. It began as a child but continued even when I began working. Without anyone noticing, I kept holding my demons within and unleashing them with tears and blood. I luckily found a few friends who helped me through it, but of course, they too had a breaking point. And so, some stayed while some took off. Taboos and stigmas plague even the kindest hearts.
It has been extremely challenging to explain to family and friends what Borderline Personality Disorder truly is. Many haven’t accepted the fact that the brain functions in the same physical way as other body parts. What can’t be seen, doesn’t exist for Indian society.
My struggle with my corporation has also been similar to my personal life. I don’t expect every manager or colleague to understand what BPD is, but the notion of mocking people with any kind of mental health discomfort seems convenient in the Indian corporate sector. I have witnessed several colleagues suffering from anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder among others, being mocked, called names, and even isolated. I was called ‘antisocial’ and ‘arrogant’ because I kept to myself busy to remain calm. My colleagues warned new employees about me and told them to stay away, because according to them I was ‘crazy’ and ‘insane’. Our corporate sector seldom cares for mental health, and it shows.
Till date, I harm myself at many occasions, despite medication and therapy. I could owe this to the fact that I am simply not accepted. What I feel, cannot be explained in text or verbally, and so, I paint or write poetry to escape the discrimination I endure every day. My childhood trauma disallows me to move forward. In India, however, trauma ‘is in our heads’, or we can ‘just get better if we try’, or it’s a process of ‘gaining attention or sympathy’.
Even after the law of our country has shown a big heart, our rooted traditions and bigoted mindset forces everything to be done according to the methodologies of ancient ages. The acceptance level is so low, that even if a handful of us try hard, we would need a revolution to bring any kind of change in this soap opera society of ours.
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