The Fiji Times » A silent killer – Mental health issues

Bula readers, and happy Saturday to you and your loved ones. It is very difficult for determined, focused and confident people to admit weakness, but today I want to share with you the story of someone I consider a friend.

Out of concern for her privacy, we will call her Sera, who is normally a very strong and resilient person, but some time ago she had a bout of anxiety.

It was triggered by remarks made online about him in the public domain and also by a personal tragedy that had turned his life upside down.

I wanted to console Sera and give her hope and talk to her about her feelings of anxiety. Thinking about it, I’m sure there are so many other people who are going through this or have gone through this condition for one reason or another in their life.

She told me that it was quite a weird feeling as she had felt fine for a while, but that could change as negative and worrying thoughts crossed her mind. It would make her anxious and overwhelm her with depressing thoughts.

These mysterious and negative thoughts had accumulated after a series of events that included feeling the pressure at work from his immediate bosses, overcoming personal grief and battling online bullies.

The combination of these situations finally brought her down, and anxiety began to seep in and consume her. Mental illness isn’t easy to spot, but I’m sure it’s anything but more painful than most medical conditions.

Sera confessed to me that she felt ashamed and angry that she had let these situations get the better of her and that she also felt hopeless as anxiety consumed her.

It made me review the mental health facilities, clinics and services we had in Fiji. The response was indeed very disappointing, as there is virtually nothing at all to meet the needs of nearly one million people in our country.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders and affect 30% of adults at some point in their lives. The good news is that anxiety disorders are treatable and a number of effective treatments are available on the open market.

Treatment helps most people, and with a combination of natural therapies and prescription medications, a large majority of individuals are able to live normal, productive lives.

I did as much research online as possible and decided to recommend Sera to try some natural therapies for anxiety and this included meditation, deep breathing, calm music, good thoughts, prayer and believe it or not, it helped her tremendously.

Looking back on Sera’s personal tragedy and her pressured work environment, I couldn’t really help her as much as I would have liked, but with online bullying, I was able to find and hire very good computer specialists to track down the IP addresses of the perpetrators and finally take them to task.

What is the definition of a bully, you may ask. Well, here are some of the ugly forms it can take:

  • oppressing others who are unable to fight back;
  • persecute those who are unable to resist;
  • bullying, tormenting, intimidating those around you with your power and presence;
  • pressure people to do things they wouldn’t do otherwise;
  • harass people with threats of retaliation; and
  • abuse the power given to you for the good of people, but use it for your own purposes on one or more people.

It is a sad reflection of the society we live in and it also shows that we are slowly but surely losing that caring and compassionate nature that we are all known for as a nation.

Maybe it’s time for all of us to look within and reflect on what we’re doing to each other with our sometimes reckless and antisocial behavior.

Today, Sera is recovering from the anxiety she suffered and thanks to her incredible spirit, she is able to bounce back and start living her life to the fullest. She has turned the corner and hopefully will continue to thrive in her personal and professional life in the future.

Others, unfortunately, are not so lucky and may not have the support system in place to recover from these mental health issues. One piece of advice I can give is to be open and share your feelings if you think your sanity isn’t what it should be. Seek help from a healthcare professional or even a loved one if you feel you can open up to them.

Finally, mental health issues can be a silent killer and we should all be a little kinder to each other because we never know what other people are going through, whether in their public or private lives.

Remember that it costs nothing to be nice.

  • Ajay Bhai Amrit is a founding member of The Peoples Alliance party and is also a freelance writer. The views expressed in this article are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of this journal.

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