In the fifth episode of the Rediscovering Self with Amrutam podcast, host Preethi Parthasarathy explores the theme “I can’t get out of bed” with Aafreen Ansari. An entrepreneur by heart and a copywriter by profession, Aafreen is a strong advocate for mental health rights and awareness. She is also the co-founder of We, Included and MyChild App and her work is largely focused on building a community that is empathetic, understanding, inclusive and mindful of its words and actions. She was also part of Forbes Asia 30 under 30 2017 and is also a TEDx speaker.
Aspects of human behaviour
The episode begins with emphasizing the need to have more and more open conversations about mental health and wellness. Preethi dives right into the theme and says how all of us have, at some point of another, experienced this feeling of not being able to get out of bed. Whether or not it could be an indicator of a bigger issue, we all experience this really heavy feeling to just wake up in the morning and start your day. So, does it mean there is something wrong with us? Or is this just one of the many aspects of human behaviour?
“We are all conditioned to blame ourselves when we are experiencing a negative feeling. Our first thought is “There must be something wrong with me which is why I am feeling this way.” A lot of times we don’t even recognize an event or a series of events that may have triggered our emotions negatively. And sadly, we don’t even allow ourselves the time and space to reflect on something that could be completely unrelated and still trigger our mood,” says Aafreen.
Now when Aafreen says that one should allow themselves some time, she does not mean that one should lie in bed all day and not move an inch. What she does mean is taking some time to process how exactly you are feeling and telling yourself that it is okay to not be okay. Usually, when we do things that seem out of the course of normalcy, we alarm ourselves and become more vulnerable. And being vulnerable makes us want to limit our interaction with others because of its overwhelming nature.
Vulnerability and coping mechanisms
“When you are uncertain of your own behaviour, you do not want to interact with the outside world that is already so volatile and uncertain,” explains Aafreen. And so, it is okay to not be productive or even do much. To which Preethi quips, “It is our body’s way to cope with the overwhelming emotions when it is not ready to face the outside world.”
“Rest is so underrated. We live in a world where everyone is constantly hustling and achieving things. There is so much emphasis on being productive and always gunning for the next big thing. We almost never take time off. This pattern often leads to us feeling drained or burnt out. And then, even simple things may seem like a challenge.”
“I am not against hustling, I am against hustling come-what-may,” says Aafreen. Especially in the era of social media where everyone is trying to put their best picture on the internet, putting ourselves under intense pressure and comparing to others is not only harmful but even dangerous for our mental as well as physical health in the long run.
Stuck in a rut
Often when we are feeling overwhelmed, it is also accompanied by a feeling of being stuck. As if things aren’t quite happening for us. Almost as if the world is moving and you are stuck at one place and you’re not sure which foot to put forward. It can be a very difficult emotion to tackle which is why both Preethi and Aafreen discuss the importance of having a strong support group that can help you in dealing with these emotions. The everyday people in your life, who know about what is going on with you can help you without even realizing it.
“When I was diagnosed with chronic depression and high functioning anxiety, it was a task for me to tell people that I was going through something so difficult. But just letting them know that I wasn’t feeling okay and I needed some help, I believe, was the biggest step that I could take. Acknowledging that you need help and reaching out to people can help you so much.”
“The whole concept of self-sufficiency is so overrated. Why does one have to feel like they have to take care of everything on their own when we can actually go out and seek help from other people?” questions Preethi. Dependency is generally looked as a bad thing in society. But dependency to a degree is okay. Asking for support when we need is absolutely okay. Sometimes, even important.
In the final segment, Preethi and Aafreen discuss different ways in which one can ask for help if they are not feeling okay and find themselves unable to get out of bed.
You can start by talking to the people who are close to you and who you think will understand your situation. If your family is too closed off to the idea of mental health and awareness, it is okay to not want to involve them. Seeking help can also look like talking to your best friends, your colleagues at work or people you meet every day. Knowing you have support in itself helps. Setting small achievable goals for yourself if you are feeling too overwhelmed also helps. But you have to be willing to try. And you have to accept help from other people. Like they say, you cannot help those who do not want to be help.
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.