Be the main character of your story

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. Sharing personal experiences around mental health can help others feel less alone and help to raise awareness around important topics, so today to mark the first day of Mental Health Awareness Week one of our Student Mental Health Champions shares her experiences in struggling with mental health difficulties. Throughout the week there are lots of activities to get involved with as a great way to meet new people and do something relaxing for your wellbeing. For more information go to the Healthy NTU SharePoint.

By Twinkle Gupta Course, MSc Marketing and Brand Management NTU student

What would you do if you see someone wounded? Or what will be your first instinct if you had an injury?

You would take steps to try to heal, wouldn’t you? You will take all the possible measures to fix your wound and make sure that you’re fit again. But are we doing the same when it comes to our mental health?

We as humans have come far with a lot of things, but mental health in many cultures still remains a taboo. I feel this is because we can’t see what is going on inside someone’s head to see what it is they are going through.

I am the first child of my parents and being the elder one, I have been subjected to what my parents went through in their marriage. Loud voices, disrespecting, not talking to each other for days, a spoiled environment, this is a memory that I have in my head. Not getting enough attention from my parents made me go out, look out for external validations, cry myself to sleep, always feel self-doubt, and become self-conscious. From a young age, I have always felt the need to be with someone no matter how toxic it might become. For a long time, I was self-sabotaging without even knowing how hard things were becoming for me.

I started pushing away the people who genuinely cared. I would find excuses to fight because that is what I have seen since the start. If people live happily, things will definitely go wrong sooner or later because happiness doesn’t last. I consoled myself by hiding my feelings and pasting a long fake smile on my face for a long time. But how long can we pretend? I used to run away from the places that made me feel bad, and most of the time, I ran away from my home. That was my escape mechanism. Unfortunately or fortunately, it all came crashing down during Covid-19 when we were all trapped inside our homes.

I couldn’t escape that situation, I had to face it and that made me physically sick. I gained weight and my body became weak. Physical symptoms made me worry. I would cry for days non-stop and my mind would force me to do bad things. There was this constant urge to inflict pain so that my mind and my heart would go numb. That is when I begged for help and went to see a psychiatrist.

I was not at all smooth sailing, there were some difficult pills that needed to be swallowed, some things that needed to be practiced, and some things that I had to let go of. I knew I wanted to change a lot of things and change is never easy. I took charge of my life and sat down to revisit the dreams that I saw as a little girl. I went out and did things I always wanted to do and those few days of positivity led me here, to my dream country for my further education. But is everything fine here? No! I came here with my best friend and I feel that it might not be easy for him either. I still get panic attacks, I get irritated, I fight with him, I argue and when it gets worse, I even scream at the top of my lungs and still have the same difficult thoughts I struggled with before.

I have shared these things to let you know that one thing I have learned in my life is that no matter where you go if you’re not happy inside, things will come back to you unless you’re healed from them. It’s a journey but I know I will get there. I am practicing the little things and that is making a huge difference in my life. I am learning how to go out alone, I am learning how to sit with myself and feel solitude rather than feeling lonely. I am learning how to let go of little things and look at the bigger picture. I am learning how to love myself, cook for myself, get dressed, and do whatever I feel like doing. I take care of my mind just as I would take care of my body. Whenever my mind is stressed, I take some time for resting. It is the most important thing.

And after all this, I remind myself of what I used to say before I came to the UK. “I will make that year the best year of my life. You’re the main character of your story so, don’t be a sad one.”

For help, advice and resources whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.

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