Updated: Nov 3, 2021
Trigger warning: Suicide; suicide ideation
As someone who likes to control most details of her life, I've been a lone wolf for a long time. People who know me have called me independent and street-smart because of my ability to survive in tough situations. But what happens when survival is not enough anymore, when you want to go beyond living from day to day - to become a happy, holistic individual?
Join me on a trip down memory lane.
I grew up in a fairly normal household in a metropolitan city with what I assume to be an appropriate number of friends.
However, when I was in school, I used to have days when I 'did not feel too good'. Being the smart kid I was, I took to eating snacks and chocolates that would lift my mood and conquer these strange feelings that would visit once in a while.
A few years later, in my adolescence, these days came more frequently . There were even days when I wanted to end my life. But I knew I wanted to feel better, and I had to figure out how. And this is what worked for me.
I told myself that whenever I wanted to end my life, I would first have to write a will- or a 16-year- old's version of it anyway. On the days I wasn't doing too well, I would pen down my will as quickly as I could and in the time that it took me to list down my favourite clothes, shoes and junk jewellery and all the people they would go to, the urge to end my life would pass.
These small tricks turned to more elaborate plans and I always had a trick up my sleeve. I never visited my terrace alone (for fear that I might jump off in a moment of weakness), I learned how to survive.
As odd as it may seem to someone reading this now, it didn’t seem so to me back in the day. Being only in college at the time, I was proud of myself for learning how to resist the fatal urge. I knew the suicide rate in India was rising, but I didn't know why.
It wasn't until I was boasting to a friend about my skilled adventures that I was made aware that this wasn't normal. Pre-empting the end of one's life every alternate month was not what other 20 year olds were doing with their free time.
It was an absolute shock to me! I had never been educated about mental health issues or ever reached out to my parents for fear of seeming weak. A few times when I was in a low mood around my friends, they attributed it to PMS and I believed them.
I started researching mental health as my friend suggested and relooked at my life with a microscope. It took me a year or so to finally speak to my family about what I was going through. Once I presented them with facts that I had gathered and the symptoms I was facing, they agreed that something had to be done.
Over the next few years, I took steps to recognize and help solve what was essentially the deficiency of a certain happy chemical in my brain. I saw a therapist who helped me navigate life in a healthier way, and a psychiatrist who with the right dose of medication helped alleviate my symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).
Today I am an advocate for mental health awareness because I know just how harmful ignorance can be. Thanks to the help I got and a growing support system, I lead a highly functional life with a job that I love and hobbies that enable me to feel like more than just someone with a mental health issue.
My journey to wellness is an ongoing one, but it could have begun much earlier, had I been open to those around me or been more aware about my own mental well-being.
Here's to all the lone wolves out there, may you find the strength to be part of a pack; and may your pack help you to not just survive, but thrive!
(Roshni's privacy has been protected at her request)