Updated: Jun 27
Stroy by Khushboo Aneja
The last five years had been very long for me. Though I had accepted that something was wrong with me, fear was holding me back. Suicidal thoughts had agonized me long enough and in my heart, I knew that I needed help. It took courage, a long fight with irrational thoughts and accepting defeat to finally reach out for help.
I first approached psychiatrists which was a mistake on my part. Three of them heard for an hour and prescribed anti-depressants or mood stabilizers. They couldn't find a reason for why I was depressed or if it was something other than depression. They just went along with whatever I told them. It was my mistake, I didn’t know I should have approached a therapist first.
After I gave up, my sister consulted a therapist for postpartum depression. She encouraged me again and I reached out to a psychologist who I found on a Jaipur community page. She was charging just 350 for a session so I thought to give it a try.
She heard me for an hour. All my story. Asked questions and validated my feelings. But also suggested me to go see a psychiatrist for a proper diagnosis because she thought it just wasn't depression.
The psychiatrist I then went to gave me a set of questions. He heard me and told me he thinks it's either Borderline personality disorder or Asperger's. He sent me material regarding both and asked me to go through it. I related more with Asperger's and he agreed with me after one session.
The day I got my diagnosis didn’t change anything but suddenly everything started making sense. My bouts of selective mutism, my interests, my behaviour, my reactions and my thoughts. I finally knew what was wrong with me and I felt free even when there is no cure.
Asperger's is different in girls and boys. There's not much research but apparently this is a childhood condition and is on the autism spectrum. Girls with Asperger’s are good at masking their symptoms. Instead of making a fuss like guys, we learn and start imitating people unconsciously so it's hard to diagnose. Depression is just a side effect of not being able to manage it.
After I got diagnosed with Asperger’s, I started once a week therapy with another psychiatrist. We focused on my current issues at that time. I was not able to get out of bed and feed myself properly. I have a lot of allergies so self-harm was as easy as drinking a cup of coffee.
She gave me little tasks every week. Like have a different place to sleep, eat and work. We brought some changes in my life. We analysed some of my behaviour and tried to change the patterns.
It helped for a while but I stopped when I came home during the pandemic and because she suggested I start taking meds too as only therapy won't help. I have the prescription but I am dealing with other medical issues to start on anti-depressants for now.
My first and most difficult step was accepting something was wrong with me, awareness followed with the diagnosis. Though I am better than I was five years ago, healing isn’t linear. I waited five years to get help, I really don't want people to wait that long.
And this stigma that therapy is expensive is something I want to break. If we pay for a stomach ache then why not therapy? It did feel pathetic to me too, this thought of paying someone to listen to you but therapists don’t just listen, they also help you understand yourself.
Even today, I am still afraid of talking about my mental illness with strangers but I keep sharing my story indirectly. When I started therapy, I talked about it as much as I could which encouraged people to go for therapy. I started getting messages from strangers on Instagram.
I don’t know where I get this crazy boldness from but opening up has led so many people who were looking for a judgement free space to me. It has led so many people to take therapy that it feels worth it. Sharing my story made me realise that I am not alone in this and there’s still hope for people like me.