Custom Search

Mental Health

by Paddu Menon
(Bangalore, India)

I woke up in a cold sweat. No, I had not been seeing scary movies or getting nightmares at least not the ghost ones, neither was I getting a heart attack then why this sudden uncomfortable wakeup call? Why did I see a darkness in front and back of me? Why was I scared? Why was I feeling empty inside? Why was I feeling suffocated and claustrophobic.? I looked at my husband sleeping his jerky Parkinson’s sleep and I looked around the room. Did I see shadows there in that corner? Was someone from my past lurking there? In a panic I tried to switch on a light and cursed the builder for the umpteenth time for the light switch being a mile away. I scrambled up and switched on the torch of my phone. In the narrow light I felt safe. Holding the beam in front of me I walked to the main bedroom switch and flicked it. The sudden light made me squint but I heaved a sigh of relief. I looked around the room. The familiar almirahs, the side table, the dressing area and the grumpy hubby were all safe anchors. Then why this unease? This feeling of emptiness, this hollow feeling, this weepy feeling? I felt unhappy, even….no…yes…even suicidal. I didn’t want to live in this dark world.

What had triggered this feeling? Was it the stress of the past few years of an ailing husband diagnosed with a gastro tumour and a cancerous aftermath? Was it the harrowing days and nights of no support thanks to Covid? was it tackling everything all by myself? Was it the onset of Parkinson and a zombie like hubby? I did not know, I felt low, I felt helpless and I wanted out. How? I had been braving it so long now why this feeling? Was it because I felt unwanted unloved and a taken for granted Caregiver? Was it because I felt unappreciated? I remembered feeling low when my my pet doggie Bingo had passed. I couldn’t sleep with the pitter patter of feet coming at me. I heard his heavenly bark on seeing me, I kept seeing him turn over to be tickled…. But that had subsided in a week as my girls were with us and life was busy. Now all alone and saddled with a sick hubby I was …. what…dangerous around myself or everybody? I kept the light on and went back to bed but couldn’t sleep. Kept staring at the walls which seemed to be closing in on me. Would I become Anarkali?

The coucal bird called. I looked at the clock. It was 4.30 am. I sighed. At least some things were still normal. The sun would soon be out and encompass me in its warmth. I googled…. Was I losing it? Was I going into depression. Was I suffering from a mental disorder? Was I getting an anxiety attack? Google baba said…..

The National Institute of Mental Illness defines mental illness is a condition that impacts a person’s thinking, feeling or mood and may affect his or her ability to relate to others and function on a daily basis. According to the WHO and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mental disorders are generally characterized by dysregulation of mood, some combinations of abnormal thoughts, emotions, behaviour and relationship with others.

Different types of Mental illnesses:
Bipolar affective disorder
Intellectual Disabilities
Developmental Disorders like Autism.

Mental illnesses are commonly prevalent in children, females, elderly, disaster survivors, industrial workers, adolescents and those people who are having chronic medical conditions.

Common reasons for mental illnesses:
1) Deprivation and poverty
2) Illiteracy or limited education
3) Low household income
4) Lifetime disorders such as panic, phobia, generalized anxiety disorder
5) Alcohol dependence
6) Drug Abuse

Common symptoms include:
1) Confused thinking
2) Prolonged depression
3) Feeling of extreme highs and lows
4) Changes in sleeping and eating habits
5) Suicidal tendency
6) Intense fear

I read down the article and felt sure I was going crazy. I felt high and low. I felt intense fear. I had confused thinking. I definitely was sinking into depression. What was the way forward?

My hubby called for help to lead him to the bathroom. It was a cruel hand of fate that saved him from cancer but made him a Wobbler. And Parkinson’s being a close friend of Alzheimer’s…. I went to him…And sobered up. NO, I could not become depressed or suicidal. He needed me in his world. I shuddered to think of him without me in his life. That really frightened me. He would be lost and helpless and …No, never …I could not do that to him. We had had a lifetime together. I wouldn’t ditch him when he needed me.

The bell chimed. It was the cute two-year-old child from our neighbours. She called my hubby Tatha and would jump into his arms. Her presence cheered us a lot. She would play with us and on the whole, we looked forward to her visits. I cuddled her in my arms. The feeling of happiness and security that coursed through me at her softness and warmth cheered me up. No depression can defeat me. Narasimha in his wrathful mode cooled down at the sight of a toddler. Such was the strength of innocent children. I would be around for a long time. My hubby smiled at the little kid and held her tiny finger. We looked at each other…. For better or worse…I slept without the light and did not wake up in cold sweat….I had healed.


Click here to post comments

Return to Perspective.