- Mamata Rode shared her story of experiencing extreme social stigma due to her mental illness.
- Education and awareness of psychological illness can eliminate mental health stigmas from society, NAMI suggests.
Despite mental health problems being very common in India, people hesitate to discuss mental illnesses and seek medical help because of the fear of being judged. People experience extreme difficulties in overcoming their psychological problems due to high prevalence of social stigma and discrimination Mental Health Foundation says.
Mamata Rode, a 44-year-old yoga teacher in Lucknow, shared her story of experiencing extreme social stigma due to her mental illness. She explained that her psychological issues started 10-12 years ago because of financial and marital problems. At that time, she was married with three children and was expecting another. Over time, she started feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and experiencing sleep deprivation. Due to the lack of enough certified therapists in India, she failed to get proper medical help on time.
In 2015, one of her psychiatrists informed her that she might have bipolar disorder. Knowing this, Mamata’s parents and husband started making it a big issue. “When it’s thrust on you that much, at that time I also started believing, perhaps, I have bipolar disorder,” she said.
A year later when she delivered her fourth child, another tragic incident happened in her life. Her husband got hospitalized after being diagnosed with dengue. The situational stress triggered her bipolar disorder. She screamed and behaved abnormally within the hospital premises that eventually dragged her to the police station.
The police drove her to a mental institution where they learned from the doctor that Mamata is a bipolar disorder patient. Unfortunately, her parents and husband agreed to admit her to that mental institution.
Mamata was kept in isolation for almost two weeks and sedated with strong antipsychotic drugs. She was lucky enough to get out of that institution after 46 days and found a good therapist who helped her in overcoming her mental issues. But she can never forget the pathetic experience she had due to social stigma and lack of proper mental health care.
Meanwhile, her marriage ended on the ground of her mental instability. Her husband moved to the U.S with her four sons. Now, Mamata lives with her elderly parents and is planning to shift to the U.K to study creative writing. “I have no panic attacks. I teach yoga, I do whatever little bit of freelance editing. I’m trying to get on with my life,” she said when asked about her current psychological condition.
According to National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) experts, individuals can fight mental health stigma by talking openly about mental health. It is very important to educate oneself and others for encouraging equality between physical and mental well-being. Anyone facing such stigma should choose empowerment over shame and seek medical help without hesitating.
P.S- Name and place changed due to privacy concerns