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Loneliness and Desperation: An Accomplished Indian’s Mental Health Story

As an Rcozer, I have the privilege of listening to individuals courageously open up and share their mental health journey stories. Recently, one such story struck a chord deeply, reminding me of the regressive portrayals of women in the regional movies I grew up watching (80s child here!) back home. Let’s call her Shakti (meaning ‘Strength’) from my hometown, Hyderabad, India.

On the surface, Shakti seems to have it all together—she’s highly educated, successful and thriving in the Bay Area for nearly a decade. But, beneath this facade of accomplishments, she’s navigating a tough divorce. As I listened to her talk about how her marriage unfolded, tears welled up in my eyes. She expressed feeling isolated and unsupported, enduring unimaginable abuse and even contemplating suicide. During a moment of vulnerability, she confided, “I realized, no matter what happens, there was not a soul to ask after me, no one who cared. I was cast off by my parents as someone else’s property. To my husband and his family, I was a doormat that wouldn’t stay put. In those lonely days, a singular thought played on in my mind: I should have a child just so I have someone I could call my own to love and be loved.” The birth of her child reignited her will to live, solely to ensure their well-being and protection.

While her strength in the face of adversity left a profound impact on me, I couldn’t shake the feelings of helplessness and anger. So many thoughts raced through my mind: What do you do when you’re financially adept, juggling countless responsibilities, yet your value is reduced to serving your spouse and his family; your voice is repressed, and you’re told you deserve the abuse and the depression that follows? Who do you turn to when your own people refuse to acknowledge the wrongdoings happening before them? When, as a woman, you’re expected to compromise and mend the broken rather than break free, because societal judgment makes death seem more acceptable than divorce? Where do you go when you’re away from home, fearing the consequences of being alone in an unfamiliar country, while being told to sweep all the atrocities under the rug? What can you do when people dismiss mental illness, making excuses for their loved ones in the name of culture and prestige?

Shakti’s story hit home, making me realize the importance of our work here at Rcoz in promoting mental health awareness. Now more than ever, we must encourage open sharing and break the stigma. Speaking for South Asians living abroad, we may appear assimilated externally, yet we continue to avoid discussing mental well-being; a crucial conversation for a fulfilling life. While this storyteller will remain anonymous, we at Rcoz extend our deepest support to our South Asian sisters who are fighting silent battles. Don’t underestimate your strength; you’re more resilient than you realize, a goddess in your own right. Don’t give in. Don’t give up. We urge you to reach out, share your story, seek help, and do right by yourself, inspiring and giving hope to countless others like you and to future generations so they don’t suffer in silence. Because, at Rcoz, your story matters.