Don’t be Afraid of Being Different

Don’t be Afraid of Being Different

No one should live in fear of bullying or harassment simply for being who they are

Suicide and mental health issues are real. Depression can affect anyone. Targeted harassment, bullying and witch hunting have a detrimental, often devastating effect on mental health, driving people to contemplate suicide, or to actually taking their life. We all need to be kind in our responses. We live in a world where rape and death threats are a regular occurrence. This has to stop. Social media trials should stop. Not everyone is strong enough to push through hate. The online community has a culture of harassment and bullying. I was bullied for being too skinny, ugly, not knowing English, and being different. But later I realised that I have to grow up, no matter how hard it is. I have to accept and love myself. I’ve been called everything, I’ve thought everything bad I could about myself, and I have come through. I’m happy with how I look and that’s all that matters. I stand here stronger than ever. Growing above the bullies and the self-hatred that these experiences bring is one of the most admirable things someone can do. Don’t be afraid of being different.
Somebody can act and look just great but can still be suffering from suicidal thoughts. I was dealing with depression but I made it through. My mental health was rapidly declining and I felt like I had nothing to live for. Every day was a struggle to get up out of bed or to socialise with anyone. You just get that tunnel vision and feel alone but I’ve given it my all every day to push through it. It’s hard talking about this topic without getting emotional. But it’s a fight I have to stay ready for. Mental health is just as vital as physical health. Depression is not a weakness. This is a reminder that mental health should NEVER be weaponised, ridiculed or questioned.
Depression isn’t a joke. Some people show it, some people don’t. But if you listen to them carefully, you can hear their cries for help. Sometimes all you need to do is listen. Unless and until our society recognises cyber bullying for what it is, the suffering of thousands of silent victims will continue. Depression is real. Cyber bullying affects persons in ways you can’t imagine. Depression can affect anyone, irrespective of social status, income, career, sexuality, religion, political stance, race, or creed. More empathy for those suffering is what society needs, and the stigma needs to be broken. Cyber bullying is very real and causes real, sometimes irreversible, damage. If anyone feels like it is too dark, I hope you remember that there is always bits of light found somewhere if you hold on a little longer. You are loved. You are not alone. You do matter. Do not suffer in silence, talk to someone.
You never know who is hurting from within. Smile at the random stranger on the street, be kind as a habit. There is not a day that goes by where I’m not grateful to be alive. I am unbelievably lucky and blessed to have parents who are so courageous and support me through everything. They have created a strong young man today and I’m forever thankful for their sacrifices and their unconditional love and support.
I believe in depression and anxiety but I also believe that one cannot have that weak of a mind to succumb to them. I will always fight for women, children, LGBTQ, human & civil rights! I have experienced extreme bullying and victim blaming after surviving sexual assault in high school. The trauma of an assault can last forever. Even years later, the persistent trauma, anxiety, and isolation that survivors endure are overlooked and sometimes, they tragically die by suicide. I hope people can start to realise that what you say online can have a serious effect on people. I was bullied as an adult for being too colorful, for being myself. I had no one standing up for me, so I dulled my shine until I had the courage to live my truth. Stand up for those who can’t, today and every day!
People are too scared to be themselves. Celebrate your life. Because if someone is coming after you, it means that you have something that they don’t. You are special. You are loved. Keep going. No one should live in fear of bullying or harassment simply for being who they are. To our LGBTQ+ youth: I see you. I love you. I will never stop fighting for you. Together, we stand against bullying because we all deserve to be unapologetically ourselves without fear of bullying or retaliation. I refuse to allow hate and discrimination to divide us. Be kind to yourself. I will continue to fight back against those who wish to take this country backward.
Following CoViD, there will be an epidemic of mental health problems. This lockdown is going to be very hard for people who’re suffering from depression, suicidal thoughts and other mental health problems. Lockdown will cause a lot of people to enter a war with their own minds. Look out for your friends but most importantly look out for yourself! Please talk to someone you trust, someone who you know will be there for you. Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to be alone. The pandemic is affecting us all, but it can be catastrophic for people with mental health and addiction challenges. We need to be socially closer than ever. We all struggle, there’s no shame in getting help. People shouldn’t feel afraid to talk about their mental health. The only way we’ll end the stigma is by continuing to talk about it. It’s ok not to be ok. Encourage others to seek help when they need it.
Our culture of gossiping and bullying has to stop! I lived in anguish for the lack of support. I really can’t believe that having regular therapist sessions/psychiatric check-ups isn’t as normal as visits to a doctor. One should never ever be ashamed to seek help. Is the mind not a part of your body? Let us be more compassionate than cold to our fellow human beings. Sometimes, life is much more painful than death. People who die by suicide do not want to end their lives; they want to end their pain. We live in a society where the stigma and shame around male mental health and emotional health is causing epidemic levels of male suicide. Suicide rates in men are much higher due to the stigma of seeking mental health support. Most men who kill themselves rather than talk about their depression. As a society we must make it easier for men to seek out help.
Social media is just a colorful Illusion. People put on a brave face and fake smiles but they are suffocating deep down. Mental health isn’t a battle that needs to be fought alone. You don’t have to be raving mad on the streets before you need to see a psychiatrist. I’m seeing my psychiatrist today; we both agree I’m doing better. Struggling with anxiety and depression means celebrating the days you’re free from it. My therapist has helped me so much. I get emotional when people thank me and say that I made them realise about mental well-being and helped them set aside their hesitation to approach a psychiatrist. If you have mental health issues, don’t hesitate to seek medical help. Get referred to a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. Don’t suffer alone and in silence. If you’re reading this and you genuinely believe that you may have anxiety disorder or depression, please seek help, a friend, a parent, a school guidance counselor or even better, a psychiatrist.
Every 40 seconds someone dies of suicide. Every day is Suicide Prevention Day. Suicide prevention is much more than a ‘Crisis Hotline’ or ‘Check On Your Friends’. Suicide prevention starts with a conversation we are not having about our mental health. Together we can end the stigma. Suicide prevention is equitable access to mental health education. Suicide prevention is ending racism, sexism, gender-based discrimination, homophobia, transphobia and biphobia. Going to therapy is a privilege. I am alive because of my privilege. Not everyone can afford a therapist, though. Mental health services must be accessible to all, a human right. Mental health support should be part of universal healthcare.
Every time I hear about someone’s suicide, I am reminded that I survived. Reminded that no matter how low life has been or is, the story isn’t over. There are opportunities in every crisis. Most great changes are preceded by chaos. I know I might have hurt many people here, but I just had to vent. This year has taken a toll on me. But I’m doing better, I’m not suicidal. I will never get tired of saying, ‘Suicide Is Not The Answer’. Trust me, I know the feeling of pain, hurt and anger and not seeing the light, but there is always hope. To anyone struggling, please don’t suffer in silence. You are not alone. There will always be someone there to help you. If I can do it, you can, too.
As someone who has been going through it for the past few days (and years), try to avoid saying what depressed and suicidal people “should do”. That can further isolate people who already feel at a loss with everything around them. In the midst of the pandemic, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by hopelessness and despair. Happiness is NOT a choice when you’re “clinically” depressed. Talking with friends and family is great but serotonin levels in the brain will not balance, and you will suffer again. Please feel free to ask me for advice on who/where to go to. I’m willing to listen and try to help. I sought treatment for my depression, rather than let it kill me. I’ve seen a therapist and have been on medication. Our society considers this a “red flag”. People need to understand that because I am active on social media, dropping fine photos and intelligent posts doesn’t mean I’m okay. There is so much going wrong. Sometimes you have everything but chemicals in your brain disagree. Sometimes the chemicals in your brain take over and win. Sometimes it’s confidence that is lacking. Sometimes you are literally so sad and most of the time don’t even have a reason to be. Sometimes “happy things” won’t fix it. The chemicals in your brain do not define your worth as a person. A lot of us are dealing with different issues, but we must continue working hard and holding on. Every single thing will get better.
Mental Health has got to be a part of our “wokeness”. Openly talking about suicide is important for a lot of reasons but the biggest is that it gives someone struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide the “Okay” to talk about it. Also, ideas of suicide do not always mean death; sometimes it means to dissolve and disappear. A therapist told me one time: You don’t want to die, you just don’t want to live. Take it from a Survivor: There is strength in vulnerability. “Normalise” talking about your mental health issues and seeking support. Let’s start the conversation. I’m so grateful for another chance. I promise you, it gets better. Time moves forward and it waits for no one. Life goes on. Make mistakes & “LEARN”. It’s humbling to know that there’re people who genuinely care for my well-being. Look out for your loved ones, tap into their energy, ask them questions, connect.
I’ve never been comfortable sharing much about myself. Since a very young age, I have struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts. I was put through too much at a young age and I still struggle today. I was raised to not talk about it, or my feelings, but I’ve realised I need to change that. Mental health is a personal journey; that said, it doesn’t have to be a private one. Therapy saved me. Trying to heal is not weakness. Going to therapy is nothing to be ashamed of. Also, language is very important in de-stigmatising mental health and suicide. A kind reminder: please don’t use the phrase “Committed Suicide”. It harkens to “Committed a Crime” or “Committed a Sin”. Please use “Died by Suicide”.
“You Are Enough” is an initiative to advocate for those struggling with mental illness, suicidal thoughts and ideations. Reach out, ask for help. Please know I’m here. Like many of you, I suffered from anxiety and deep depression. I’m on a mission to break down the stigma surrounding mental health. Remember that you will never be alone in this.

The writer is associated with ‘You Are Enough’, a self-funding, non-profit organisation that wants to break the stigma of mental health in society, and to shine a light on the positivity and support that should be available for everyone. He can be reached over Call/WhatsApp/SMS at 9641722948/ 8637552446


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