One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood. – Seneca
I’d like to share one of the most significant insights that I’ve gained in life so far via this post. It’s about how tremendously effective and life transforming the two simple words “I Understand” can be – even if they’re not spoken out aloud!
Have written earlier on my experience with depression (on my FB page), what I learnt from it is that social support is extremely important, and the people around you can make a real big difference.
However, this is not applicable only to depression or mental illness, but any tough situation one goes through life. Human beings have great resilience and the capacity to bounce back from the worst kind of crises, provided they’re in a positive social environment or have some good relationships. Apparently, when one is in trouble, just being in the presence of a supportive and understanding person who doesn’t judge, question or belittle you but just calmly “understands” is enough to give you a lot of strength!
This has been supported by research as well; for example, in the paper titled “Social Support and Resilience to Stress” in the journal “From Neurobiology to Clinical Practice” in May 2007. The abstract of the article reads: “Numerous studies indicate social support is essential for maintaining physical and psychological health. The harmful consequences of poor social support and the protective effects of good social support in mental illness have been well documented. Social support may moderate genetic and environmental vulnerabilities and confer resilience to stress, possibly via its effects on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) system, the noradrenergic system, and central oxytocin pathways.”
One of the biggest hurdles in treating mental illness is the lack of understanding regarding the issue and therefore the lack of social support, especially in India. This is quite distressing despite the widespread prevalence of depression. We must start considering mental illnesses to be just like other physical diseases like diabetes, blood pressure or even cancer. They’re all physiological abnormalities of different kinds, that can be treated in appropriate ways.
In fact, a lot of famous personalities suffered from or dealt with mental illness, so instead of considering it a stigma, one could consider it as a co-morbidity that exists along with genius 🙂 🙂 Sharing the list again below……
I’ll talk in more detail later about how the people around me made a difference or made it much more difficult for me to cope with my condition. But the purpose behind this article is to urge you all to be more “understanding” – towards mentally ill individuals or towards anyone going through a tough time. Because that will make a huge difference. You don’t have to do much, spend anything – just be around without judging, berating or blaming them for whatever they’re going through.
I’d like to sum up by giving the advice to look for “understanding – ability” as one of the main qualities to look for when you search for a friend, partner, teacher, mentor etc. 🙂 😉
PS: Famous people who suffered from Depression: