Mental health as a concept is being given emphasis and voice over the last few years. Of course, the stigma is present but things are gradually turning around. When it comes to mental health we often come to witness or hear ‘this person’ or ‘that person’ who struggled with mental health issues put out their thoughts, but how about coming out in the open about your own individual mental health struggles and journey. This, in particular was the most unique aspect of The Goodwill Tribes meeting at Senmozhi Poonga on the 3rd of December called ‘Speak your mind out’!
9 people came together to talk about their individual journeys with mental health and wellbeing. What ensued was an hour of intense, emotional, and very personal conversation. Everything shared was so relatable by everyone else who was listening, which is amazing and let’s face it in some ways most of our journeys are the same .
The session started with an intense and raw poem by Dharini on how she perceived and felt about her mental health issuest. That part of her which felt she was in a world she did not belong to, where isolation was as horrifying as connection. Her journey through depression and reaching out for help was delivered with such poignance and power.
Swathi shared a note on how mental illness instrinsically being a highly emotional experience, can further push you to the edge when your experience is not being met with empathy and understanding. It makes you feel alone in your journey, and that could be much more crippling than the depression itself. Travel – her love for new places, people and settings, helped her discover herself and reignited hope that there was space for beauty in this world. It reinforced that this one life is worth fighting for.
Ms Aparna shared her experience of having an eating disorder and working towards recovery. We usually feel comfortable sharing about something when it is over and done with. But to be able to open up when you’re in the midst of something, takes courage and tonnes of perspective. She shared that lack of knowledge about how crippling an eating disorder can be, even among the medical and psychiatric settings, can drive clients to hopelessness and despair.
The session “speak your mind out” did not look at solutions because primarily everyone’s journey is unique. It aimed at providing people the strength to come out and find acceptance in who they are, just as they are. The fact that few people spoke and others listened, gave others the validation that it was okay for them to open up as well. They would not be judged or shunned for their struggles. And primarily it conveyed the message that- “it’s okay to not be okay”.
One could sense a feeling of release at the end of the session, a feeling of belongingness and support, which is very crucial to navigate or work through any mental health issue.
‘Speak your mind out’ created a beautiful experience on a cloudy Sunday evening, reminding us that to be human is to connect with one another, to be sensitive and kind, to yourself and to others.
Big shout out to Swathi and Neeta for making this happen through The Goodwill Tribe Chennai chapter!