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Mental Health

Sleep well, my child: A guideline to anyone suffering in an unsupportive home

Edited by Lasya Adiraj

Mental Health in Indian households is always a controversial topic  It’s either “go to a psychiatric facility” or “sleep it off and eat well.” There is no in-between. A person dealing with issues of mental health tends to feel alienated from their family. This is especially true for Indian teenagers as certain family “values” have been ingrained in their minds from the beginning.  Indian teenagers are taught to put their family above all else and so, in times of crises, the lack of support can be extremely detrimental. Domestic influences play a large part in affecting one’s mental health. “Guilt tripping” tends to be a part of the evolution of parent-child relationships in various households, but it is innately harmful for a child suffering with problems of mental health. 

A teenager in this situation can say with certainty that they wished that either one or both their parents had just taken the time to hear them out and understand them. “What if I had my dad on my side? What if I had my mom on my side?” These are questions with never ending possibilities attached to it. Due to such circumstances, people resort to finding something that works for them. They create a safe headspace and build metaphorical and real walls just to try and stay afloat.  I have seen such instances in the lives of people who were close to me and in my own. I’ve witnessed the rock-bottom and the climb, seen the end and the start. And this is my reminder to you to take it slow. You are not a failure and you are not an embarrassment. To avoid resorting to clichés, I’d like to provide a few tips and pieces of advice that were tested and tried and helped me navigate these circumstances.

  • First, try to find a small space and make it your own. You don’t have to go all out to try  and make the place yours as long as it serves its purpose of being a safe space. But if you wish to give it a “homely” feel, maybe you could do little things like pinning up sticky notes with positive messages on them or even something as simple as placing an item dear to you in that area.

  • When everything seems overwhelming, don’t try to keep yourself busy. Take a break and find something that relaxes you. A song, a show or a book – it could be anything that helps ease your mind.  

  • If breathing exercises help you calm down, find techniques online that aid in the process. Don’t try to do something that requires a lot of effort. Just try ones that help you relax.

  • Find an interest/ hobby that will work as a cathartic outlet for your negative emotions. Remember that conflict is not always necessary and sometimes avoiding a fight can go a long way for your peace of mind.

  • Find a way to express your emotions. Talk to someone. It doesn’t have to be a person who reciprocates or gives advice. It can be a one way street but it’s always better to talk about your issues out loud, even when you don’t know what is causing it. Try to label the emotion as in my experience, it helps clear the fogginess in your head rather than it being suffocating and every problem has a solution right?

  •  Tell a trusted source that you are having problems, it can help to have an emergency contact when it gets too overwhelming to handle it alone.

  • And, most importantly, always remember that your feelings are valid. 

Give me a cup of coffee, a book, or Netflix, you won't see me for 6 months. I'm a student at Ashoka majoring in Literature so you'll find me studying literature at 4 am and hear me break into rants about history at any time.
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