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As a writer who has experienced various worlds through words, I see so much human misery through the normal way they live. I also see unhappiness in the most unexpected places among high-functioning, relative people.

As we all know that depression and mental health issues is that condition which deprives a person from experiencing pleasure. It keeps you away from socializing. Depression cannot be defined merely as grief or a feeling of sadness. There’s more to depression than what we all know. Depression needs to be differentiated from ordinary feelings of grief and pain. Sadness comes from loss, disappointment, fights, rejection and many other reasons. The pain that one feels from depression is indescribable. It comes unannounced and apparently for no reason at all. Depression is just something that comes out of the blue and takes your happiness away. It feels as though a vacuum pump has sucked all the hopes and positivity out of you. You feel something is going terribly wrong but you can’t figure out what exactly went wrong. It sucks the life out of you and paints the colours of your day grey. The worst part of going through depression is that no one else seems to notice it. Such people tend to see themselves as failing even if they are not. Depression is one of the most prevalent emotional problems. Depression affects all aspects of life including one’s mental health. A mental health related person is more likely to be in dark, gloomy mood at all the times of the day. They are often sleep deprived people with low self esteem and low self confidence.

One of the most ignorant and insensitive statement anyone can make to someone with mental health is ‘’snap out of it’’. Unfortunately this statement is uttered constantly to people with depression and mental health problems. The victim tries to control all the feelings at first. You decide to keep all the emotions and feelings under wraps. You even try to indulge your mind into things other than the pain. But the brain somehow does not want to suppress those negative thoughts. It brings up those thoughts again and again. Emotions cannot be controlled. You may try to make the symptoms less severe but you cannot through an act of sheer will, get rid of the mental illness from your brain. You may feel lost. Nobody seems to understand you and that is a tough place to be. You try to hide your feelings and emotions enveloped in shame and guilt.

There has always been a social stigma attached to mental health and depression. Though many people suffer from this problem, there is a social stigma attached to it. They face discrimination in many aspects of life not only from the society but also from their immediate families and friends. These victims are often seen as an embarrassment by their family and friends. It makes their problems worse and makes it quite difficult for them to overcome it. People feel that these victims have a lack of willpower, they are dangerous, they cannot control their emotions, and they are antisocial. It is a shame on the society, family and friends who think that people with depression are ‘’defective’’ like broken machines. They make it difficult for a person who has a bad mental health to open up about their problem. One of the biggest struggles a person with depression might face is whether to reveal the condition to others or not, and if they were to reveal it, who will they reveal it to? They often find it difficult to express about their problem because of the fear of being avoided or rejected from a group. The worst part of all this is that they move around all alone in shame and guilt with their feelings and emotions wrapped up.

There have been days when I have been through such things. Days when my mental health was in a state of total disorder. There are days when I still feel low. I don’t know whether it is depression or not. Though I haven’t resorted to seeking any medical help, I know I need to heal. I need to overcome this grief, sadness and anxiety which haunt me every now and then. I understand that anxiety is more than just over thinking and depression is more than just feeling low but I can still totally sympathize with people going through depression and mental health issues. I know how it feels to be alone in a crowd. I know how it feels when your close ones are ashamed of you. There are times when I feel ashamed of myself when I see this world moving at a very fast pace and that I am left behind. Sometimes I feel confused because I do not understand where to go, what to do, whom to talk to. I even know that healing requires a lot of time but your family feels you are simply wasting time and doing nothing productive in life. They do not understand the basic thing that your mind that is constantly indulged in thinking negatively needs to be healed. I know that it hurts to have nobody who understands you because sometimes all you need is, is a listening ear. And sometimes you do not have explanations to why you cry or why you feel upset. That feeling is just present somewhere deep within your heart and mind. I feel lost because I don’t know what I want to do with my life. It is not planned. Sometimes it seems like there is no aim, no goal, and no objective. I don’t have much friends. I just had a few good friend but today I don’t know whether they even knows that I need them. I think sometimes without you expressing your problem, that one friend in your life should come on his/her own to offer a helping hand. I do need a shoulder to cry on. But now that my friends haven’t even bothered to confront, I have realized that I have to face it alone. I don’t want to blame them but it does hurt.

One thing I have come to realize is that there is nothing to feel ashamed of. It’s totally okay to feel what you are feeling. What you go through during depression is not your fault. It is in some cases genetic and a result of chemical imbalance in the mind and body. People may go through different levels and tendencies of depression. Everybody heals at a different pace. But remember healing is a process. It takes time. It takes courage and strength to fight depression and also keep your mental health in place. But do not stop and keep it going. Having a mental health issue is not a weakness.

I am sure some of you who are reading this can relate to what I am trying to say. I just want to say that these victims are normal beings too. It is a shame on the society which is not willing to offer help and support. Any disease destroys the organs but depression, low self esteem and mental health issues destroys the soul. Do not accuse them of faking it. It’s a request to love such people and support them in their struggle. Love, care, affection and support are the only things they need.

It’s increasingly difficult to know how a person is on the inside through their expressions and looks. There are mental health issues that are not catered for or given importance.

One way to be aware of them and address them is by carefully reading this book, ‘My Mental Health and I‘. The book is about giving hope to those suffering from depression and mental health issues and a collection of personal experiences with mental health. It is a way to sensitize and comfort people who go through or have gone through the disheartening challenges related to mental health issues.

I like the fact that Nontlantla Mthimkulu carefully collated life examples through words, coming from a relatable angle. She chose her path to mental health awareness and the book is a nice outcome.

This is a shoutout to all the people out there who are suffering from depression and mental health issues. You are not alone. We are with you. Reading this anthology is a decision you will be proud of taking. Choose yourself. Have a nice read!

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