At a time when connectivity is at an all-time high, it's difficult for people to escape their critics, especially when they're celebrities. Singer Meesha Shafi and actor Meera know what it's like to struggle with mental health and they're ready to talk about it with their fans.
World Mental Health Day was observed on October 10 but Shafi thinks it's kind of silly to dedicate a single day to mental health.
"These matters can’t be scheduled," she said sagely. She's right. When it comes to mental health, the conversation should be had all year round, not just on one day.
"[I] was struggling with my mental health these past few weeks. Bouts of low lying anxiety, low energy, motivation. Of course, it’s impossible for anyone to tell, especially onlookers online," she wrote in her Instagram caption. As viewers, we often see one side of the picture. We see pretty, colourful pictures of pretty people and we think their lives are perfect but celebrities have told us time and again that that's not the full picture and that they too are struggling with mental health issues.
"Trolls kee bakwas jaari rehti hai, [trolls keep saying nonsense] but they’re the least of my concern. And after editing a lot of people out of my periphery, I now keep myself insulated and interact with a trusted few loved ones and those I resonate with as far as core values go," said Shafi.
"Speaking of insulation, the bigger realisation it has brought is that our own mind is the biggest troll if we let it be. So please… anyone struggling with mental health, talk to a trusted one if you can’t get professional help. Be gentle with yourself, tender and patient. Sleep extra if you need to. Take a break from family if they trigger you. Give yourself time to just be. Sit in silence. Cry if it comes. Count your blessings and on the days when that doesn’t come easy, pray for ease. Meditate. Cuddle with your children. Go for a walk. Have ice cream in your pjs. Show yourself small acts of kindness. Don’t judge yourself."
Actor Meera posted about mental health on her Instagram Story and said there is little support in Pakistan and the entertainment industry.
"So the more awareness we raise the better it is for all of us. Remember depression is just a slump, you have to get back up or nobody will for you," she wrote. Meera knows what she's talking about when it comes to there being little support for mental health issues — when she went to a hospital in the US after struggling with depression she became the butt of many jokes and even became the subject of a mocking video made by former model Frieha Altaf. Instead of sending support to the actor, many people mocked her and laughed at news of her being "institutionalised".
These two women are well versed in the manner in which trolls tear people down on social media and have both spoken up about the importance of mental health in the past. Mental health awareness shouldn't be limited to a single day of the year — it should be part of every conversation because it affects almost all aspects of our lives.
But as Shafi said, sometimes, we can be our own biggest trolls. We need to learn to be kinder to ourselves and realise that it's okay to take breaks. Do things for yourself and realise that you're just as important as everyone else.