KFA Writes



To say her appearance shocked me would be an understatement. I remembered the last time I saw her, in a party similar to this, when she had chubby lively face and probably 10 kg more in her body weight. Now, she seemed abnormally skinny and her swollen eyes and dark circles were so evident that she looked like a ghost.

I inquired her to tell me what was troubling her.  The 12 -year old daughter of my mom’s colleague chose to ignore my question and kept eating her food silently. I stayed in the table next to her and talked to her on other topics. When she started being little more responsive, I insisted her to share if anything was bothering her. After a lot of perseverance and silent treatment, she finally opened up. To my horror, it turned out that she was being severely bullied at her school since a year. One of the girls from her class spread embarrassing stories about her after some stupid fight they had been on. After that, the whole class began shaming her and the popular girl gang of her class abused her mentally every day. Her other friends also stopped talking because they were scared of being the gang’s target if they got close to her. It was dreadful to hear what she had to face every day in school.

With no friends, no siblings and working parents who come home late at night when she is cuddled up in her room, she had no one to talk to about this. Her parents often questioned whether anything is wrong with her noticing her weight loss and swollen face, but she always felt that she was being too weak and couldn’t bring herself to share it with them. She hated herself for struggling to deal with it as other people face bigger troubles than that every day and yet manage to cope up.

Least I could do was tell her mother about her state, give her my number and implore her to call me any time she needed to talk. Her mom after realizing the intensity of her situation dropped her out of school and put her in therapy for 2 months before admitting her to a new school. Was it a proper way of dealing with bullying? I am not too sure about it. But luckily, she is much healthier now and happy in her new school with her new friend circle.

This is an example of how sharing your problem with others can change your circumstances. If she had told about her condition to other people before, the situation might not have continued to be that harsh as there would have been more people struggling to find the solution to it. The fact that she was dying to share it with someone was obvious because she poured everything down when I gave her a little push she needed to tell her story. But she feared she might get judged as bullying and mental problem emerging from it is not something people take seriously in Nepal. She thought she was too weak and felt people will think less of her for not being able to cope up with it.

Mental abuse and sadness are what will lead to depression and other serious diseases in the future. I often see older people in Nepal telling their offspring to overcome any situation strongly as they used to have everything much worse than this generation and yet they survived by dealing with it themselves. Hearing this discourage the children to communicate about the difficulties they face. So they keep it to themselves and suffer, and that suffering when it’s unbearable may even lead to suicide. And when someone dies from suicide, our society perceives them as weak and frail.

The problems or consequences the older generation faced before (how much small or big they might have been) should not be compared with their children. There are all kinds of suffering in the world but that doesn’t mean what you identify as a smaller pain shouldn’t be addressed at all, because there exists a pain and suffering bigger than yours. To deal with and get over any kind of harsh situation is not easy.

As I mentioned earlier, the one thing that might help in with these situations is talking about it to another person. Even though speaking up about your problems is easier said than done, what should always be kept in mind is that there is no harm in discussing it with other people. The worst thing the other person can do is ignore the problem or judge you for it, but that is still not that bad, as you would at least be able to get it off your chest.

Another way the mental problems arising in children can be solved is through parents and elders. The children should always be encouraged to share if anything is making negative impact on their mind or body. It doesn’t mean parents have to get involved with everything that the children do, but just by noticing any negative changes occurring to their children’s behavior and taking necessary precaution to help, they can aid a great deal. Finally, mental problems shouldn’t be addressed as something that you can come out of if you tried hard enough. In Nepal, psychiatric hospitals are still looked upon as a place where only crazy (Pagal) people go. What we need to understand clearly is that mental issues are hard to get over and may sometimes require proper medication and therapy. We often go to hospitals for checkup when something is wrong with us or our loved ones physically. Then why should we feel ashamed seeking medical guidance when something is wrong with us or our loved ones, mentally?

- Alisha Upreti

The Author is Corporate Communication/HR Officer of KFA.

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