By Naomi Parris
THE conversation about mental health is never an easy one, especially in a culture where someone who openly speaks of having a mental illness or a disorder is often ridiculed or shunned for something they have no control over.
The fear of having to worry about societal norms and the whispers of naysayers have forced many people, especially Guyanese, to live in silence, which, in some cases, end in a tragedy.
Finding strength in speaking up and seeking help, Commissioner of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), Neaz Subhan, decided to pen his experience on paper and share his own survival story with Guyana and the rest of the world in his new book, ‘Coming Back, an escape from suicide’.
Subhan, in an interview with the Guyana Chronicle, disclosed that he was diagnosed with clinical depression some four and a half years ago, but he suffered in silence for many years; in seeking help, he was encouraged to document his journey to recovery.
“Basically, this is a journey which I went through during which depression was very part of that journey. When I suffered from chronic depression for just about four and a half years ago, when I was about to gradually recovering [sic], I started writing and I was told writing can be very therapeutic,” said Subhan.
He added: “I wanted to know if what I experienced was just something that just happened or were their signs in my life that I would have ignored because of how hard the depressions hit me, so much so that it went to the point of me trying to take my own life and I just wanted to see if there was any connection at any point in my lifetime.”
In giving a synopsis of his book and the title, he said, “[It’s] coming back from a dark place, a place that I don’t want anyone to be, a place I can’t believe that I was and a place I don’t want anyone to go, so that explains the title.”
‘DO NOT SUFFER IN SILENCE’
With high hopes for the book, Subhan is optimistic that in sharing his story, it will motivate other Guyanese to speak of their illnesses with a professional and to not live in silence or in fear of what others may say or think.
“I am hoping against everything else that this will be useful, I’m not saying that it will be, but I am hoping that because my story is different for many other people, but many aspects of my story can be common to many people who suffer in silence.”
He said the book can be a form of inspiration.
“I am hoping persons who are suffering in silence, who unfortunately like me, is denying what is going on [in] their lives. This book can be some form of inspiration, solace; whatever you want to call it, that they can read.”
In sharing a few words of encouragement, Subhan urged persons who may be suffering from a mental illness or having suicidal tendencies to seek professional help, since there is always a silver lining in a gloomy cloud.
“I would like them not to give up, not to lose hope, I would like them see that where they are is not the end, where they are it can be a new beginning…it is not the end, hold on to something,” he said.
Subhan disclosed that he is working to have his novel published in time for the Christmas holidays.
“I’m working to have the book online and physical availability in book stores, so I hoping that this will be done in time for the holidays, so that it will make a good gift if people are interested in that.”