Tuesday, 15 October, 2019
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OPINION

Steadying Hand For Adrift Souls



Prerna Lal

As time passes, diverse sets of people come into our life, some of them going on to make a big influence on us but a greater number just moving on with little notice. However, one common thread runs through them — almost everyone lives in denial about their mental well-being.
The World Health Organisation defines mental health as a state of complete well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to her or his community.
But it’s almost impossible to find a person who ticks all these boxes. Nobody is perfect. Everyone is at least a bit neurotic in his or her own way. However, much you would like to believe that human beings are level-headed, they are not. We are not always rational and we often let emotions get the better of us.
Adding to these are unrealistic expectations and demands that put people under constant stress. Society seems to think that if you cannot maintain an illusion of perfect mental health, you are not fit enough to be “normal”.
When a person’s abilities fail to match up to the demands of society, stress builds up. Everyone experiences stress, be it a child, working individual or retired employee.
No one is in a perfect state of mental calm. For a child, making a new friend or counting the numbers backwards can be stressful. For a retired employee, accepting the inability to work or being in the twilight phase of life can be distressing.
When individuals cannot cope with stress, it leads to mental illness. Stress is one of the root causes of several mental illnesses such as adjustment disorder, panic disorder, and anxiety disorder.
While going to a therapist is an option, most people view it as taboo — one that will segregate them from others, something that will make people see them as abnormal or crazy. Though going to a therapist can help alleviate stress to a great extent, many believe a few pills, a good night’s sleep or a vacation is enough. But sooner or later, you begin to channel your past anxieties and conflicts into your current life.
Stress, like a toxin, seeps into your familial responsibilities, work demands, social life and so on, becoming the biggest hindrance in life.
Now, you begin to feel like you have hit rock bottom and there is no way out of the rut that you are in. This is when you need help. Talk to someone you trust, confide in a person who has kept your secrets safe. Talking sounds simple, but sometimes it can be more difficult than swallowing a pill. If you feel even this is not helping and want to end your life, you need to approach a health professional to identify issues and manage your stress before it is too late. At this juncture, an occupational therapist can help you out.
Occupational therapists are health professionals who help you gain a better perspective of, and control over, your life. They understand the underlying factors in your surroundings that hinder you from being the best version of yourself and make you participate in minuscule yet meaningful activities that may change your life.
If you know anyone near and dear to you who is suffering silently, offer them a helping hand and let them know that things will get better. Yes, the demands are going to be there and will never disappear and yes, you are going to be stressed out.
But with the help of an occupational therapist, you can be one step closer to leading a better life.
prerna.lal@manipal.edu
-The Hindu

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