The Unconditional Love Of Parents Should Include Mental Health
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Health and Wellness

The Unconditional Love Of Parents Should Include Mental Health

The traditional South-Asian view of mental illnesses can ultimately worsen how children handle their issues.

The Unconditional Love Of Parents Should Include Mental Health

I cannot remember the pace of my breathing, nor can I keep track of the sudden increase in my heartbeat. I can feel my eyes cloud up, hot drops forcing their way through my tear ducts. Not a single sound escapes me as I try to shut my eyes and somehow disappear. I remember that I need to focus on steadying my breathing and somehow direct my heart to follow a normal rhythm. Failing at calming myself down only increases my anxiety and sends me off into full-fledged panic mode. I clench my fists around the hem of my shirt, with the desperate hope of somehow transferring my anxiety and overcoming the pure terror that has taken over. After what feels like hours of dread, I feel my muscles slightly relax and begin to recover from my anxiety attack.

Coping with generalized anxiety has always been quite an arduous task. Sure, most people have experienced their fair share of angst when faced with uncomfortable and challenging situations, but imagine that feeling amplified and increased to a point at which that is considered to be your norm. Imagine waking up in the middle of the night, countless consecutive nights in a row, body sore from the terror you were trapped in only moments ago.

Imagine rehearsing your lines to daily conversation in an attempt to diminish the chances of running into a scenario that you had not anticipated or prepared for. Imagine your body involuntarily settling into a mode of complete and utter fear, not giving you a chance to find a safe place to hide out till it passes over. Imagine this becoming your lifestyle such that you do not remember what it feels like to be calm anymore. Imagine that all of this was your life, but worst of all, you had to endure this emotional state without the support of your family.

As a Bengali-American, I have always felt a profound admiration for my culture and the strong principles my parents have given to me. I love the sound of the language that is spoken at home, the clever proverbs, the familiarity and fellowship I feel when I meet someone of my ethnicity.

Although I am grateful for the traditions and values that my culture thrives on, I cannot but help disagree with some ideas and views that I see are prevalent amongst traditional South-Asian adults.

Though much of my disparity lies with patriarchal mentalities, one of my biggest issues with traditional South-Asian mentality lies with mental health and how it is viewed within the cultural context.

I cannot speak for all children that suffer from mental health problems, but it is much too often that children are either too afraid of approaching their parents with issues regarding mental health, or are left even more terrified after doing so.

Traditional South-Asian mindsets view mental health as a taboo that does not exist as part of one’s overall wellness. Parents fail to acknowledge the severity of disorders such as anxiety and depression because they struggle to understand a possible root for such conditions.

It becomes difficult for South-Asian families to accept mental illnesses which in turn makes it even more strenuous for children to not only deal with it, but receive the necessary help.

I cannot deny that all parents, including my own, only want the best for their children and would hope to help ameliorate problems as much as possible, but when it comes to mental health it is the initial acknowledgment of such issues that causes the most damage.

There is no denying how frustrating this whole situation may be. There is no comfort in suffering the symptoms of mental illnesses all alone and being driven to a point of contemplating one’s own sanity. There is no comfort in being told that it is “all in my head,” or that it is just a phase that will pass. There is no comfort in being told that it is all a cry for attention.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 18 percent of the U.S. population suffers from anxiety disorder.

So approximately 40 million people above 18 years of age are suffering from this mental illness, but are 40 million people making it all up? Are 40 million people going through some “phase” that will eventually pass? Are 40 million people begging for attention at home?

Though there are many resources for working towards dealing with mental health issues, the support at home would make for an ideal way of coping with it. It seems utterly wrong to deny a child the acknowledgment and support when dealing with a health issue, but unfortunately, it is not so simple to point fingers. It is tough to criticize South-Asian parents for the dynamic regarding mental health because such a mentality is deeply-rooted and more complex. It goes past a level of ignorance and becomes a situation in that it is unacceptable for a child to possess any form of mental health problems because that would be a sign of the child’s failure and flaws.

This does nothing to help a child out and only worsens the symptoms at home. I cannot deny that there has been an immense amount of progress regarding this entire dynamic, but it is definitely still a pressing issue for a lot of people.

One of the major reasons that mental health remains a taboo is because people fail to understand it as a crucial component of one’s health. If a child suffered a serious injury and needed physical therapy in order to recover, is it all right for a parent to say no? Is it understandable if the parent denies the injury and refuses to talk about it?

Nobody chooses to be diagnosed with a mental illness, but the fact of the matter is that it is a significant issue and a stable support system at home is one step towards living a healthier lifestyle, and overall being a happier person.

To the South-Asian parents that are in denial about the legitimacy of mental health: it is time to start doing your own research and understanding that this is an issue that can affect you as personally as it does your children. Become approachable and start embracing mental health as a part of what makes each and every one of us who we are, and give the support that your children need from you the most.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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