My name is Himali, from a small village outside the Metropolitan Kathmandu, Nepal. I came to the USA in 2007 and started my journey by enrolling at a Community College. At the same time, my father, in Nepal, had a brain hemorrhage; his whole body was paralyzed. Trying my best to focus on studies and support my family back home, I didn’t realize all the troubling thoughts aggressively racing in my subconscious mind. By 2008, I started having serious anxiety and fear. Eventually, depression overwhelmed me; I couldn’t perform everyday activities.
Thankfully, in this dark hour of crisis, the Nepali community provided me economic and emotional support. After 5 months of treatment and hospitalization, I was able to renew wrestling with the everyday tensions and challenges of being in a new country. Of course, challenges remained. For example, rather than focusing on others’ negative judgments about my “mental illness” (or, as I prefer, my “life crisis”), and looking for people’s approval, I continued my journey…choosing to be positive and to take full responsibility for my happiness.
No person can avoid suffering; what matters is that experience of suffering becomes the fuel for a meaningful life, a life of contribution. There will be cultural, social, and personal aspects of our lives which makes it difficult to be open about depression. However, with genuine dialogue and sharing our experiences, we can break down the “stigma of silence.” Why can’t we create a mental health/mental illness environment where no one has to suffer with shame, to be imprisoned in isolation? I believe we have the right to seek support without pity, to challenge judgmental perceptions about our condition, thereby encouraging thousands of people to “come out of the mental illness closet.”
At this moment in my life, I am truly grateful for my depression and subsequent healing and learning: I have become a more confident, wiser, less arrogant, and more compassionate person. Nothing other than my 2008 experience could help me understand the struggle for self-worth and the depths of suffering to which we all can sink. It taught me to embrace the darkness so that I can enjoy the light and live this valuable and precious life. Let us open our hearts and minds; through open dialogue, have empathy towards people suffering from mental disease. Let us truly evolve and become people who value all human rights.
No matter how long and bitter the winter may be, the law of life declares that spring always follows. If we are experiencing the darkness of depression, let’s never abandon hope!