“He can debate from both sides. He is bipolar.” From laughing at himself to telling us how much insensitivity still surrounds mental illness, a 20 year old student from Delhi University diagnosed with bipolar disorder, took Mental Health Awareness Week ‘14 to a whole new level of action. (learn more about bipolar disorder here.
On the drowsy afternoon of August 27, 2014, he gave the students of the Psychology Department a peek into what living with mental illness is really like. The session was facilitated by Dr. Parul Bansal and as always she encouraged the audience to question concepts like “madness” or “insanity”. He started off by pointing out that the kind of journey and recovery from a mental illness is significantly different from that of a physical illness. He told us that time and again people tend to define you in terms of your illness. According to him, not being able to freely talk about what one is feeling is one of the causes for mental and emotional distresses. At various points during his talk, he stressed on the importance of discussion, confession and having a grounded support system for effectively dealing with mental disorders. He attaches no negative feelings towards his condition but sees it as an experience that helped him gain a new perspective to life. He now likes to keep himself engaged, always rethinks his priorities and simply, is excited about life.
He really struck a chord in all of us and left us with some of his personal truths: The most important part of recovery is acceptance; understand that you are going through a problem and talk to others about it. Your career is not that important, what really matters is the kind of person you are, are you enjoying your work and putting your heart into it. He also showed us that there is growth in suffering by taking his name along with that of Virginia Woolf and Vincent Van Gogh with a shy smile. He lives with some fears like we all do but he understands that life is about the bigger picture and he is just a normal guy.
Reported by Ahla Matra, Correspondent, Editorial Board
Photographs by Husaina Parvin