It was at the age of fifteen that I first became acquainted with the word ‘depression’. Living in a modest, joint family in Pakistan, the word was unfamiliar to me until then. Returning from school one day, I had discovered my aunt in a state of motionlessness that was not only frightening but deeply disturbing. My aunt had been suffering from chronic depression and had tried to commit suicide.
This incident has forever been engraved in my mind and was what actually propelled me to research on ‘depression’. It was with shock that I realized that when asked about ‘depression’, many people were either completely ignorant and others simply refused to admit it existed. Such is how mental illnesses are treated in my country.
Widely spread under the rug, the topic of mental illness is considered a taboo, particularly in middle class societies. People not only negate the existence of diseases like anxiety and schizophrenia, but often reduce them to mere superstitions or attention-seeking techniques. More unfortunate is that the target of these ridicules are women.
Having witnessed my aunt’s close tryst with death and the subsequent effects on her family and loved ones has compelled me to advocate for the actuality of mental illness in my community. As a teenager, living through the tribulations of high school, peer-pressure, and the constant fear of an ambiguous future, I have on occasions experienced sporadic bouts of anxiety, followed by pessimism, and general negativity. It has not only affected my academics but also my social life. Luckily, I have been blessed with extremely supportive parents, friends, and counselors who have been a constant source of support, love, and affection. My own encounter with depression has made me realize the importance of these sympathetic attributes and how they can be life-changers if provided at the right time. It has motivated me to campaign for the awareness of mental health in my country, especially among the youth.
Nadia Ghaffari’s ‘TeenzTalk’ initiative henceforth provides me with an opportunity to not only get my vision and thoughts across the global community, but it has also inspired me to begin a similar endeavor in my own country. By bringing together teens on the foundation of shared passions, hobbies, routines, and last but not least struggles, TeenzTalk is an excellent platform for the youth of not only the USA but the whole world.
The TeenzTalk blog is here to amplify teens' stories on topics including personal challenges, wellness strategies, initiatives in their community, passionate pursuits, & more.