It’s common to get ill, not well, or feel feverish, right? Often, we can catch a cold and cough, or suffer from a headache, body ache and whatnot. We solve all these problems with medication, therapies, and treatments. Some people suffer from cancer, tuberculosis, hepatitis, and heart problems too, which are dealt with through a proper diet, heavy medication, love, support, and guidance. All these diseases and illnesses are caused by some dysfunctional organs of our body and this is pretty normal, isn’t it? I am not sure about you, but I have plenty of problems, namely high blood pressure and anxiety. Some of you surely know how to deal with high blood pressure. But do you know what organ is related to anxiety? The brain: the most important yet most ignored organ of our body! You can replace your heart with a pacemaker, but you need a brain to replace your brain, which I doubt is economical for anyone. However, people still don’t take care of their brains and neglect the treatment they deserve.
The real question ends up being, should people even take problems of the brain seriously? Personally, I feel the answer is yes! And why not? Issues like anxiety can be treated, yet more than 60 percent of the suffering population in the United States remain untreated. In the United States, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness, affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older, or 18.1 percent of the population every year. The World Health Organization says that almost 75 percent of people with mental disorders remain untreated in developing countries, with almost 1 million people committing suicide each year. The same study said that one in 13 people globally suffers from anxiety.
It was in December 2017, when I was all alone in my apartment, suffering from my low grades, here in no man’s land (the U.S.). I didn’t go for any vacation, as I had many important things to do — writing new blog posts, updating my résumé, applying for internships, and exploring Dallas. Plot twist: I am lying! I didn’t enjoy my vacations, because I didn’t have company and I was scared to spend a few hundred dollars in a country where the currency is 70 times more valuable than mine. I couldn’t even write, as I was craving to be around people. I didn’t feel like updating my résumé and applying for internships as I thought it was now futile. Things didn’t end here, I cut my finger while chopping potatoes, I couldn’t sleep for 36 hours, and I couldn’t cry! I didn’t know how to deal with it. I tried talking to a few friends, which was fruitless — until I talked to a friend I didn’t know well, who also happened to be a psychologist. I was flirting with her out of habit and then I came to know about her profession. I started thinking if I told her what was going on with me, would she judge me? Or stop talking to me? Although I was skeptical about the thought of opening up to her, I still confronted her with my thoughts about my depression. She asked me about my history and life, and after writing a huge rhetorical email, she diagnosed me as a patient with anxiety. She said it would take a small amount of therapy and I would eventually be fine. I thought that I was sick and ill; I told her how weak I felt for needing a counselor. She laughed and said, “It is okay! Everyone in this world is crazy about something, everyone is anxious about something and all you need to do is talk it out and meditate. And the reason for your anxiety is your career and life, which should be there. So, there is absolutely nothing to worry, you are absolutely normal.” I thought she said that to ease my worry.
After talking to her for a few days, I talked to a friend and got to know about the Counseling Center here at UTD. Like others, I was also embarrassed and ashamed about visiting a counselor, but when I found one, I realized how important counseling is. I signed up for personal counseling sessions and all I had to do was to talk! I let out all my thoughts about my career, interest in writing, cooking, grades, friends, family, and parents and the counselor listened to me with patience. I thought she would judge me, and she did, but she also analyzed what I was saying.
It took me just three sessions (one every week) to improve. I felt better or maybe even my best, but when I talked to my counselor friend, she told me “You were always the best!”
My counselor knew that anxiety is just overwhelming thoughts in our mind which need guidance. The counselor worked in a really effortless and slick manner, as he let me do the talking and gave me feedback on my thoughts, guided and appreciated them.
At that moment, it got me thinking about what was so bad about being anxious or crazy? It is funny to know that any illness relates to an abnormality in our body, but we consider only illness caused by the brain as abnormality! We differentiate the brain from the rest of the body and keep it away as if it is not a part of our body. Talking, counseling and taking a treatment saves lives — ours and others’ too. We think talking about our brain is even a bigger taboo than sex. Don’t you think that since the brain bears so much pressure every day, we should pay more heed to it, more than our whole body? Should we see a brain doctor more often, just like other doctors?
Our brain is the only organ in our body which works at the same pace all the time, so we need a counselor who calms our mind and solves our puzzles. Sometimes, if it can’t be solved with therapies, a psychiatrist comes into picture who treats you medically — as healthy as antibiotics which we take under bacterial infection. Anyone can listen — your friends, family, parents, teachers — anyone, and if they are not able to make you feel better, then knock at the doors of the counselors and psychiatrists. They have better scientific and friendly methods. And when there is an easy way out to make us feel better, then why not try it? Believe me, they are more than worth your time and money.
We often separate ourselves from the people who surround us as we think that if we tell them about our problems then it will make us look weak and mad. But in the time when we need help, why not ask for it? Asking for help does no harm. And if you can ask out someone on Tinder for a date or hookup, then why not a counselor? We are fortunate that we don’t have to download another app to find a counselor as we have dedicated counseling center on our campus at UTD. If you are stressed about your grades, relationships, family, career or addiction, just meet them at the Student Services Building on the fourth floor. It is much easier than you think!