As an Indian woman with very determined, accomplished parents, mental health is something we never mentioned in family discussions.
When your parents have achieved the American dream, there is only happiness and optimism to be felt. However, as human nature would dictate, this doesn’t hold true for everyone. People who seek mental health (according to our cultural standards) are weak and “crazy”. My final semester in college took a mental toll on me. My professional plans were not falling in place and everything I had been working towards for years seemed moot. Nothing was coming to fruition; I felt like a failure. I didn’t know how to handle these feelings because on one hand my friends would tell me that “everything will be okay” and my family would tell me “don’t worry”. While this advice is fine, it wasn’t useful to me. I was in a bad place mentally, and didn’t know how to help myself. I needed more. It took me a while but I mustered up some courage to take myself to the counseling center at my university. Although I didn’t feel entirely better, I felt empowered to do something to improve my mental health. I swore never to tell my parents that I went, in fear they would either worry or question why I didn’t come straight to them. Ever since that day, I realized that only I can help my mind, and I have the power to take the steps in order to become mentally okay. In the Indian community, people judge Indian women harshly, and it is normal to fear what others may say or think about you. Regardless of all of that, it is critical to understand that you are worth more than a judgment or a comment and it’s impossible to be your best self when you can’t help yourself. I, an Indian woman, struggled with mental health, took action, and I’m better off because of it. I am empowered and I am worth it. And so are you.