In the first episode of the Rediscovering Self with Amrutam podcast, host Preethi Parthsarathy explores the theme “I am not sure if therapy is the right path for me” with Stuti Ashok Gupta, Principal: Brand & Vision, Amrutam, and a practicing psychotherapist.
In the first segment of the episode, the need and purpose behind the podcast are discussed wherein Stuti throws light upon the importance of mental health and wellness in realms extending beyond the mind. She says, “The reason why Amrutam as an organization felt that we should talk about mental health is that we understand that mental health is not different from health itself. Because we are an ayurvedic brand, we look at health holistically. Mental, physical, and spiritual health should be in balance for you to be healthy.”
Igniting conversations around mental health
She also adds that ever since Amrutam established itself as an Ayurvedic Lifestyle Brand and Wellness Community, emphasis has always been placed on mental health and awareness and in keeping with this, initiatives like #AmrutamSelfLove and 21 Day Art Therapy Program were born. Additionally, Amrutam also has a curated list of mental health professionals that you can reach out to if you wish to seek help or know someone who can benefit from professional help. “The Art Therapy Program really helped a lot of people during the lockdown and this podcast is another step to strike a meaningful conversation around mental health,” she says.
Preethi then shares her take on how there is a symbiotic relationship between the mind and the body and the importance of maintaining a balance between the two. When the question of therapy arises, a general inference is drawn regarding people who seek or wish to seek therapy which is further countered by Stuti who says, “A lot of people go through difficult situations and thoughts which could be because of various reasons. They may not want to put that as something that they have a disorder and that's the reason they are going through something. Mental health is for everyone. Everyone should seek help without feeling like there's something wrong with them.”
Keeping your mental health in check
While therapy can be an inaccessible option for a lot of people, thankfully there are many things like incorporating certain lifestyle changes and identifying the right kind of social support that one can do to keep their mental health in check. Stuti explains:
“Your sleep pattern and your eating habits – these two aspects have a direct effect on your moods, your thoughts, your daily functioning, your relationships with others. Other than lifestyle, there is this dissonance with young people. While on one hand, they know that their wellbeing is important but on the other hand there is this cut-throat competitiveness and glamourized hustle-culture, especially on social media that the importance of mental wellbeing gets diminished.”
Another important factor to keep in mind is the importance of spending time with yourself or how we like to call it “me time”. Stuti sincerely believes that a lot of things shift within us when we spend at least 15-30 minutes a day doing something we love, ideally without our screens or phones. It helps us connect with ourselves and get to learn what we like and dislike which in turn can help us set the tone for our day or night and reflect. “The right kind of social support also plays a very important role in your life, you can have 20 friends but if you do not receive support from any of them then that is not the kind of support you need in life,” she adds.
When should you seek therapy?
That said, it is also imperative to keep in mind that sometimes we might need a certain kind of help from someone beyond our social support and family. And this is when therapy comes into play. At this instant, Preethi shares her personal experience of being in therapy and explains that mental health professionals are equipped with tools that help them ascertain the issue better and address it meaningfully. The conversation then moves on to understanding who therapy is for and how can one benefit from it. Stuti explains, “It could be experiencing physical symptoms when your reports are completely normal, having disruptive thought, or just having trouble in doing simple tasks. If your quality of life is getting compromised then I think therapy would be good for you, it would help you understand what's happening.”
However, there are certain situations where therapy may not be very useful, for instance, when a person is suicidal or undergoing extreme psychotic symptoms. Therapy may not be very helpful here because the person in question needs immediate help and an expert in crisis management could be of more help.
Even though the last decade has seen a massive upsurge of awareness regarding mental health, sadly even today, a lot of people associate mental health as a sign of weakness, as if you are seeking therapy only because you are too weak to handle your emotions or because there is something wrong with you. We also do not have any role models who will encourage people to seek therapy for their mental wellbeing or even speak positively about it. This stigmatization of therapy and seeking professional help is what leads people to resort to substance abuse or dependence because that is far more accessible, available, and to an extent, affordable. The stigma also adds to people withdrawing from social circles which causes even more damage to their mental health.
Here's how you can reach out for help
Keeping all the above in mind, the thought of asking for help can be quite daunting. Here is when Preethi and Stuti discuss how one can reach out for help.
“One way of communicating why you need professional help for your mental health is to explain the concept of 'safe space' which one may not get in their close relationships because both parties are bringing their thoughts and feelings in that space. And since you know that your thoughts have a direct effect on the people around you, it becomes even more challenging to discuss those feelings with them. There could be a certain reaction that could trigger you and not give you the containment you may need. In therapy, that one hour is entirely yours without feeling like your thoughts or feelings will affect your therapist. There is no strong reaction, no advice your therapist will give you – it's a judgment-free zone that can change a great deal of your perspective on so many things.”
Therapy as an investment
It is also important to understand that there are many different schools of thought and there is no one-size-fits-all. The relationship between you and your therapist should be such where you can trust them with your thoughts and emotions and their approach matches your needs. Adding to this, Stuti says, “Finding a therapist is exactly like dating. There are so many schools of thought and no one style of working your way in therapy. You can begin by booking an appointment and experiencing how that one session makes you feel. Of course, it's going to be a long journey but if you have conviction, you might want to come around.”
We are all unique in our experiences, and therapy is that space where you sit and talk about yourself with someone who is professionally adept at helping you address your concerns. Therapy is not the only measure of self-awareness, but neither is school or college. Stuti goes on to add, “Therapy is like an education. In school, you are learning about certain subjects, in therapy you are learning about yourself. Therapy, I feel, is like an investment. If you are constantly trying to quantify the results of therapy, then it would become difficult to sustain it. You need to try to look at it from a holistic point of view and how it is affecting you. You cannot build self-awareness by looking at someone else. This, however, does not mean that therapy is the only measure of learning about yourself, but it surely does give you a structure and time-frame where you are doing nothing but talking about yourself and introspecting.”
Find a therapist
We hope this episode was helpful to you. If you are struggling with your mental health and wish to seek therapy, then here is a list of mental health professionals that you can reach out to. All you must do is filter out the professionals that fit your criteria and write an email to them introducing yourself and explaining briefly what you are going through and be a little patient with their responses. The right professional will reach out to you soon and we hope you have a meaningful journey of getting to know yourself and building self-awareness through therapy.
Team Amrutam sincerely wishes you all the best and lots of love.