Content Warning: This essay contains vivid depictions of mental health struggles including depression and suicide.
Hello!!! I am Ananth Bhat, and I am a Junior at Brookfield East High School. I shifted to the United States last year from Karnataka, India. I was an above average student in that country and had everything going for me but I still suffered from mental health illnesses.
Worthless. Hopeless. Waste of space. These are the thoughts I struggled with for almost 3 years now and still do. I developed my depression in the summer of 8th grade in India. The constant pressure of trying to succeed, being physically and mentally abused by my peers, as well as feeling unwanted by people led me to my depression.
Initially my depression developed due to a definition. My definition of success. I had vowed to myself that if I got a bad grade on the board exams in India that I would hang myself. That I didn’t deserve to live cause I defined success as a 95% on my final grade report. This definition of success led me to feel worthless because ever since that moment, any time I got a “bad grade”, I felt miserable. I lost all hope in living because I was both physically and verbally abused by people in my life which led me to believe that no one even wanted me to be around and this led me to dig a darker hole. I felt that my existence was a hindrance to people progress. I wanted to look for help but found none as I lived in India.
Now, since I lived in India I saw firsthand how mental health illnesses was treated in India. People would either call those suffering with mental health illnesses “crazy”,”mental”, “too emotional” and etc. My own family reacted similarly when they heard about the problems I faced. They told me that I was just overreacting to a problem, that I was being too emotional or that I was ruining the house environment and should stop talking about it. The stigma I faced made me feel abnormal, that I was too weak. I didn't talk to people for a long time about what I faced due to the stigma hence I want it to end because when it bottles up to much it can push you over the edge.
I am in I-AM SHAKTI to help those people who face similar challenges in their daily lives because those feeling that depression is associated with is a pain. Mental health illnesses eat away at your self confidence and self worth which affects your daily life in so many ways and slows you down from experiencing the true value of life. It doesn’t allow you to see logic or value. Hence, I wish to further enlarge this movement and help those in need because I want to break the stigma surrounding mental health illnesses as well provide those with no access to healthcare a new family that they can turn to whenever they are feeling low.