My name is Sangeetha Param. I am 28 years old. As per the rules of society and culture by now, I should have had two school-going children, exhaustion from official and household work, in addition to the financial crisis with tons of EMIs to be paid, along with myriad societal things to carry forward the family legacy.
Fortunately or unfortunately, my life is not as mentioned above. I am an insurance professional with a passion to serve, raise awareness, and normalise mental health in human society, as well as removing the stigma associated with this unacknowledged, highly judged, and silent epidemic. So, here is my journey from patient to survivor.
One morning in November 2014, I walked out of my home to go to work as I did every single day. I turned back on my first step and told myself, "I'm going now with a soul, but I'll return as a lifeless body." I was only 20 years old, and all I wanted was to end my life without a second thought. A power dragged me to a purple bench in an old park, where the source of this mystical entity made me call my father and say, "I need you not to freak out, but I am no longer willing to live. All I want to do now is kill myself. I have been self-harming, cutting myself since I was twelve. I need your help."
All my father did was listen to me patiently and divert my mind by talking to me. Simultaneously, he informed my mother to drop everything off and get me back home safely. On reaching home, I collapsed on my bed while my father hurried home. That was the day my secret of 19 years burst out like a broken dam.
Sangeetha was always a cheerful, effervescent, and merry girl, bringing everyone on their toes with her mischievousness;
but no one understood the anguish, darkness, worries, uncertainties, and tears shed in the stillness of the inner Sangeetha Param.That day, everyone saw my true self, as well as the troubles I had been repressing for the previous twenty years. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. My family promised to have my back to support my cause, and the journey of transformation from Sangeetha Param-The Patient to Sangeetha Param-The Survivor began.
Over these years, I learnt a few life lessons that were an eye-opener to me, helping me see tough days with much more confidence and to hold on without giving in to failures.
The typical phrases used to soothe someone who is contemplating suicide are,
"Think about your family, friends, wife, spouse, children, everyone how hurt they will be, you need to live for them." What you're doing is really selfish! Avoid doing this.These remarks just serve to strengthen their desire to die rather than live.
Replace the phrases above with "You are required in this world because you are important." Remind them of their strengths, the things they have accomplished, the aspirations they still have to realise, and the minor improvements they have made in people's lives because, at the end of the day, we must understand that we must first live for ourselves and not as a duty to anybody.
Depression has become a 'fancy' term that everyone uses. When a person suffers from depression, nobody takes it seriously. The majority of individuals confuse sadness with depression. Sadness is a phase that lasts for a while but finally passes after coping, and sadness does not affect your ability to think clearly. Contrarily, depression is a persistent, underlying sensation of sorrow that makes even the most basic tasks difficult to do. The magnitude of the pain makes it unable to utilise coping methods, which finally leads to irrational thinking.
The first step in removing the stigma associated with mental health is to emphasise that sadness and depression are not the same things.
Depression is a serious illness. It may not have a blood test or a scan to verify it. But symptoms such as self-harm, suicidal thoughts, sleeplessness, eating disorders, and extreme emotional suffering manifest as physical agony and are genuine and 'not made up in your mind.'
I usually end my testimony by saying that depression, trauma, and the good and bad events of life will always be a part of me. I know I shall meet my friend 'depression' along the road like milestones in my life's journey. As I learn how to use them to my benefit, that’s a step to victory. It's okay not to be okay! My achievement will come from learning to befriend my depression and allowing it to only be a temporary guest in my life at that time rather than making it a permanent resident.
I began writing as a form of self-therapy and went on to publish two novels, 'Key to Acceptance' and 'Echoes in My Attic.' I also tried public speaking and gave two TEDx speeches, represented India on six international mental health platforms, and continued to be passionate about raising awareness by delivering talks at schools and colleges.
Even though I have experienced much taboo, whispered words of stigma,
I am proud to talk about them because I do not want anyone else to come to the same conclusion that I did.There is a very narrow line between life and death, and I want to inform every individual that I chose to walk away from the edge, every time I came up. After all, I am Sangeetha Param, The Survivor.