Two things happened a few weekends back. I attended a mental wellness seminar and an overnight party, in unrelated places. The overnight partying started on a high, sober note. Many party goers left after the midnight hour. The rest of us ninjas took up the challenge to stay on until the sun rose. Age reminded me the folly of not getting a full eight hours of sleep, so I sneaked away at some point and caught a few winks. At 10 in the morning, while still sick with sleep deprivation, I found the party still kicking, people looking like zombies. That mental wellness seminar and the learnings thereafter came to mind. I knew then that we were all in dire need of a minimum three sessions with a mental health practitioner.
Abuse of self by overindulgence, the inability to realise when we have had enough of alcohol, meals or a party is a red flag. The ‘self - torture’ as my brother called it, of falling over chairs with sleep, looking very unbecoming, left me wondering why this mental ill-health crisis is not on both the media and national leader’s lips.
Also read: The mental health wave
A young woman staggered straight into a pole, sobered up for a whole three seconds before collapsing on the ground. She was close to my seat so I went and tapped her on the shoulder, “Are you okay?” She looked at me, smudged mascara and all then broke into sobs. “I miss my dad.” Did I have face hair or what would make me remind her of her dad? “He died when I was six.” She looked like a little girl, sobbing and I swore never to attend late night parties, ever again.
I was not equipped to counsel anyone, as I realised that I was also on the verge of tears listening to her. I too missed my mother. The loss of a parents is a deep trauma whose pain is only temporarily soothed by such overindulgences. It is made worse when we grow up expecting and looking for such unconditional love as we had from our deceased parent.
Psychologists need to come to clubs, pubs and churches for sessions with their patients. The confessions I heard, and shared, that morning deserve a whole drama series on a show. I suspect psychologists do not get their patients to open up as a bit of alcohol does. All the buried pain and the memories come flooding after hours of debauchery in alcohol. Grown up men transform into little boys who have unhealed trauma from when they were as young as five.
It is folly that one chooses a gym, gets into a punitive diet, enrols for financial literacy classes, even acquires the highest post graduate qualification but never considers mental wellness as worthy of their time and financial investment.
“Have you ever seen a therapist?” I asked our friend, the little girl in the body of a woman, sobbing for her dad. She grunted, falling into sleep, there on the ground. The mental wellness facilitator had said, “The best way to support yourself and others is to do away with the judgmental attitudes.”
There is a stigma attached to seeking help from a psychologist. “A lot of people are functional patients.”
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as, ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’ An excerpt from the health fact sheet by WHO reads, ‘an important implication of this definition is that mental health is more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities. Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.’
Now, imagine the two functional patients are married? Enough said.
Karimi is a wife and mother who believes marriage is worth it.