“We were wise enough at such a young age, not to burden our parents with things we knew they would never understand”.
There are some stories you read and subconsciously are able to relate to on an empathetic level, even if you haven’t experienced the subject matter personally. That is exactly what happened when I read Vithya’s raw and brutally honest piece on how she faced depression and managed to conquer it. If you haven’t already, check out her article on the Tamilculture site:
Who I Am Today
Talking about depression and mental illness has been a taboo topic in the Tamil community for so long. This cultural stigma pressures us to believe that what we are going through is just a series of moments that we don’t truly understand, and thus we should be able to simply phase it out. It almost becomes the norm to ignore what we don’t understand or assume that our family will not understand the situation. This prevents us from trying to go through the uncomfortable phase of trying to figure it out. However, all this accomplishes is to make individuals that are desperately in need of help feel alone or convince them that they will burden their loved ones with their own demons.
Then comes the question of how can one be depressed when their family loves them and provides them with all they need to live a “comfortable” life? It is so much easier to question and criticise before trying to understand the perspective from the “victim’s” standpoint. I too have found myself looking at the ‘picture perfect’ lives of individuals on social media and have drawn my own conclusions that they must have nothing to “complain” about. However, this misconception is built on ignorance and naivety that what we see is their true reality, and not what they want us to believe.
There are so many beautiful souls that I have come across in my life that have experienced deep pain that they mask because they are ashamed of being judged and worry that their pain will burden their loved ones. We must take responsibility for the anxiety and stigma that comes from sharing stories and experiences of “taboo” topics such as depression, sexual abuse, and mental illnesses. These conversations should not only come up when victims are brave enough to tell their stories. It should be an on-going dialogue amongst both the young and older generations. We have come a long way from where we were, and this is mainly because of young people like Vithya or organizations such as A.N.B.U (ABUSE NEVER BECOMES US) and AADHYA that are empowered by young people that want to see a change and want to educate our society so we can learn from our past mistakes and not repeat them with our future generations.
“I just wanted to love myself. Figure out what I needed, and what would make all this go away. And it did go away. That cloud hanging over my head during the divorce went away. And it was all because I did that. I made it go away, by wanting to live. Wanting to be happy. Desperate to have another shot in life again. Believing that someone will love me, and that I will have a happily ever after. We all deserve it. But how one achieves that is in no one’s hand but your own. You have full reign, full control of how you want your life to be.”
Vithya highlights that we have the ability and strength within ourselves to overcome the obstacles that we face in our own time and at our own pace. So let her experience help navigate your own story and help you find your own truth. I wrote a piece on my reflection of Vithya’s experiences; her story, my words, and some truth we all can relate to. I hope you enjoy my artistic expression!