It was very unusual for me. This was the first time we all sat down at the dining table and talked like old friends. Mind you, my wife and I have always held conversations with our daughters at the dining table. Only this time the crowd was bigger and the conversations included thoughts from daughters of my dear childhood friend, now of adulthood age.
As we munched on vade and roti canai, the cacophony of shrieks from my youngest and even her younger brand new friend, was constant in the background as the played. But even heavier was the topic of our animated conversation. A part of me was impressed that these teenagers and my daughters could articulate their thoughts and awareness far better than I could have at their age. The other part of me was glad that they found comfort in being able to share deep and personal thoughts with us. As I said earlier, this wasn’t our typical chaa time conversation.
I was struck with their bravery to openly share with us their experiences. We could only listen, acknowledging with our nods as one of them talked about her battle with bipolar tendencies and how she went about thoroughly investigating the issue at hand. The others at the table never once flinched. In fact, they demonstrated maturity in acknowledging her plight. If I had traveled back in time, 20 years ago, I can’t have imagined myself reacting anyway to such taboo conversations amongst family members let alone uncles and aunties from another family. We live in interesting times.
I took away a lot of encouragement and picked up a new lesson. It was encouraging because our kids – the next generation – seem to have such heightened awareness on the trials and tribulations they are going through in today’s very different environment. And this gives them a better chance to figure out how to take care of themselves independently.
Note to self: Learn a little bit more about myself. I’ve had my ‘that time of the month’ where my mood was dark and I’m in a constant spiral into a deep hole of negative thoughts. Sometimes, I can virtually imagine myself digging deeper into the hole as I don’t get answers to my questions, instead throw up more questions. The old adage advise, “Live in the present, enjoy the moment” never makes sense as I constantly worry about the future. Are these signs of some mental health issues yet to be diagnosed? Something for me to ponder, as I listen to these young ladies talk about symptoms and methods to overcome.
But not every one is ready to talk so openly. Our friends and family members may still react differently. After all, mental health is always someone else’s problem. What makes it even worse is that it is associated to being a weak person. It would probably take a couple more generations to change this mind set. But alas, the next generation like these teenagers and my daughters have already begun the conversation.
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
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