When People in Your Culture Think 'Having a Baby' Will Solve Your Mental Health Problems
I’ve experienced a psychotic breakdown eight times before. Last week was my ninth. I mostly have hallucinations of my mother during an episode. So that’s what happened. Then, I tried to kill myself.
What happened next I do not know. I only know bits and pieces from my husband and my brother. I feel extremely guilty because maybe I should have warned them that a psychotic break was on the horizon, maybe the hospital stay and police investigation could’ve been avoided. I blame myself for it all.
Like I said, I don’t remember anything at all. My brother found me having a seizure at around 10:30 p.m. I was unconscious for two whole days. They tied my hands and feet because of the continued seizure-like movements. On the third day I was mildly conscious, but I was blabbering nonsense.
I didn’t remember anything and I wasn’t making any sense. But I was alive and guilty. Anyone who has been in my shoes knows the kind of guilt that comes with surviving a suicide attempt. It was no different for me.
But what I really want to talk about is when I gained full-consciousness and started listening to the various undesirable advice from the doctors and the nurses in the hospital.
When the doctor finally asked me why I overdosed, I told him what happened. I told him I was having hallucinations and I had a breakdown. The response from the doctor angered me.
He said, and I quote, “All of this is nonsense. You did it all intentionally, there’s no mental illness or anything.”
In his defense, he wasn’t a mental health specialist. He’s a doctor of medicine, and I was admitted under his care at 1 a.m. the night of. So maybe I shouldn’t hold it against him. But I cannot get those words out of my head. How can a doctor, in this day and age, be so ignorant of the fact that mental illness is real?
While I stayed quiet and just listened, dazed, to the doctor, I didn’t think there was more to come. But alas, there was. Because next came the nurses whose sole beliefs was I wouldn’t have taken such a drastic step if I had a baby. The nurses actually told me that the solution to all my mental problems is to have a baby.
I didn’t know what to say to this. Of course I tried my best to reason with them, but I got very, very tired by the end of it. My body has already been through enough and my brain refused to work anymore to reason with people who won’t understand. I gave up for the time being.
I don’t know about other parts of the world, but in India every problem a girl faces can be resolved by marriage or bearing a child if you’re already married. Even the various mental illnesses. Because firstly, some people still do not believe mental illnesses are real. And then even if someone is struggling, all you have to do is pray to some God or find a witch doctor who’ll rid you of your afflictions.
I have been lucky enough to find a life partner who understands mental illness, and a brother who stands by me through the tough times. But it is not enough, I don’t think.
I want society to open its eyes, to see clearly where the problem lies. To understand the reality of mental illness. But in the last week I failed miserably. I was told to get pregnant, have a child, by at least 10 people. Like that’s the solution to all my problems.
I have had the privilege to speak about it with some other Mighty contributors about this and they put it exactly right. Deciding to have a baby is a big choice, especially when you have bipolar disorder, major depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, and they supported my choice to refrain from having a baby right now.
Before I spoke to some of these astonishing women, I literally thought I was wrong. Things like this can shake the very foundation of your beliefs. But thanks to them, I can at least be at peace knowing I haven’t done anything wrong by not having a baby yet.
All the people who spoke to me about this — you women are amazing for understanding and supporting me when I was so confused and needed the boost. So, I just want to thank you.
Of course I want a baby, but on my own time. Not because I’m struggling and having mental breakdowns every other day. It’s a choice, not a necessity. People need to realize how important it is to understand mental illness.
I have a cause to eradicate the stigma attached to mental illness in our society, specially in India where there is a lot of ignorance. Hope Is Good is my cause. But I can’t do it all alone. If you feel like it, please join the cause and make it stronger. The stronger it is the more difficult it will be to ignore.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.
Image via Thinkstock.