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By Naail Ali Published on 05/09/2019

Too tired to swim

A person's war with mental illness
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Naail Ali

Published on: 05/09/2019

Mental Health Depression Anxiety
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Authors note

Mental illnesses have ravaged society in different forms through out history. However, there has been minimal attention to this extremely important category of health within our society as well as the global population. One in 7 people globally (11-18 percent) have some kind of mental disorder. This sums up to about 1 billion people in the 2017. With such a large category experiencing a spectrum of diseases that are not given the importance that it requires, it is our duty to work towards changing that. The following are words from one in a billion who came forward to share her story. Thank you.

What is your Medical History?

I was diagnosed around late 2016 early 2017 with treatment resistant depression, mild anxiety. I got diagnosed with PTSD and a dissociative disorder around 2018. I’ve consulted quite a few psychiatrists and psychologists in Maldives, some in Bangalore. There’s a family history of mental disorders from both sides, mainly from my mother’s side.

My addiction started with mood stabilizers. I would consume 5-6 pills to feel better every day. This then led my doctor to switch to a stronger dose. It’s very likely for patients with mental disorders to be dependent on their medication as it is usually for long term and most of them are controlled drugs.

Maldives has a backward treatment method regarding tackling the mental disorder epidemic. One of the professors that a relative of mine consults, mentioned it after looking at the medication and dosages recommended by doctors here. I feel like he was right about that, there’s just not much importance given to the various therapy treatments that could be beneficial for patients. Nor do we have therapists that are qualified or well educated enough to carry out the therapy treatments. Besides that, there’s just a lot of other factors to consider than just approaching the pill fix method.

How do you define a Holistic approach?

In proper terms, a holistic approach is taking mental, social and physical factors into consideration rather than just the symptoms of a disease. That could mean the community you grow up in can influence your behavior, or perhaps the household environment a child grows up in. It could be the lack of nutrition that results in your cognitive behavior being affected. There’s quite a lot of factors to consider, it’s good to read up on it and educate yourself.

Is society progressing and what are your thoughts? 

Compared to the last two years, we are progressing. I’m happy that people are trying to understand what this disease does to people without being insensitive about it. We’re still far behind but it’s better than nothing. I just wish more people would understand how real of a disease mental illness are.

Depression is the leading cause of disability and ill health around the world now according to WHO. We do need a bigger supply of psychiatrists though. Currently, we only have two good psychiatrists, and personally from my experience only one good psychologist. It’s extremely tough to get an appointment with the psychiatrists, they’d be booked for weeks or up to 2 months. Not many of us can just wait around that long to consult a doctor. We do need more doctors to meet the demand that has skyrocketed the past few years.

What are your future goals?

I hope to be studying my way into becoming a professor that specializes in abnormal psychology and behaviorism. I want a wider access to better doctors, better treatment plans and less juggling around different doctors to find a good fit or treatment like I had to go through. It is mentally exhausting and honestly, no one should go through such a complicated process to get help.

What is depression to you?

Depression is something that weighs you down. You’re in a constant struggle to swim up to get air, to get ashore and be safe but it gets so tiring that sometimes you think is it worth it or would it be better just to drown instead. Every day is just a constant struggle to do even basic day to day activities. I might stay in bed without taking a shower for days or not eat properly or do anything productive and it’s the worst feeling ever like you’re just stuck and decaying while everything and everyone around you is blooming and prospering. It’s physically tiring and confusing gaps in your memory.

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