Mental health issues and Depression

In our Iranian culture

In those old good days, our Iranian culture considered depression being a “luxury illness”, something just for the “rich people” who were tired of all the privileges in life and did not know what to do next!” a type of illness just for the upper middle class !
Now we know that it is not true, we know it well that depression today is an everyday problem around the world and it happens to anyone despite race, class, ethnicity, status, and gender.
I do not recall anyone talking about depression in our average type of families. People kept busy and searched for meaning in various ways. Those who had mental health issues were being kept away from others or send to institutions away from families and away from love.  We have just heard stories of the “crazy home” (how we call psychiatry clinics) places distanced from communities and with minimal social interactions.
Some people report having children or relatives who were sent to those homes and they never heard from again. There is no blame on those families; for sure we did neither have the knowledge or the resources to care of people with mental health issues. I do not know how it is now in our home country. Now let’s talk about our views on some aspect of mental health concerns today and here.
We many times use the word that someone died of a broken heart (degh kardan) meaning she or he carried excessive amount of sadness that made the person die. This is certainly one area that researchers have confirmed that you can die of a broken heart. All the studies of people with excessive amount of grief have helped research world to understand what happens physiologically and psychologically and why it result to dead.
Now the idea of depression:
In regular family life back in Iran you could hear that your parents or grandparents or someone was “eating ghosse” meaning that the person was depressed and sad because of something.
Now, I acknowledge the fact that we cannot generalize anything about our diverse group of people name: Iranian people! However, I give myself the liberty for using the metaphors in order to get to the base of the issue.
I also acknowledge that I might be biased, yet these are experiences that many of us share. This is just a cultural based view of depression as a problem! Just a play with the words that are deep rooted in our Iranian culture! Let’s see what is behind “eating ghosse”!
When someone dies, the survived ones have “ghosse” to how live the life without the person. Also in many other areas of life such as having financial problems, being in family conflict, divorcing husband, separations, and various disruptions to our regular life, we feel a sense of grief and sorrow meaning “eating ghosse.” the situation is the same when we have health problems, parenting issues or if we lose jobs or not able to find job, these are all circumstances that we “eat ghosse.”.
The idea of sometimes grieving too much and too long for the dead ones are and have always been depressing for many people. It has for the least taken our right to happiness away.
Sometimes we let go of our rights to be happy and cling into areas where makes us really angry, sad, upset, unhappy, and dissatisfied.
Maybe it is easier to be angry and upset than happy and energetic. Maybe we sometimes choose to have reasons for being depressed. Maybe we sometimes let go of taking care of ourselves because we do feel guilty or shameful for many reasons.
Now, let’s take a moment to think literally how it is to “eat ghosse”,
* it means that we swallow the grief,
* that we internalize sorrow,
* that we carry the loss with us to the most deepest and darkest places inside our soul,
* that we feel angry and hurt,
* that we see ourselves being helpless, isolated and fearful,
* that we are in shock and denial,
* that we have lost our sense of safety,
* that we have lost ourselves,
* that we do not have the support we need
* that we are violated: physically, emotionally, psychologically, or spiritually
* That we have many other issues that are not expressed in a healthy way……………..
This list goes on and on………………
When we “eat ghosse”, we physically take in the pain and emotional problems
* meaning that we hide it inside,
* meaning that we culturally are raised to take in issues to ourselves and hide it from others,
* meaning that we have to pretend being strong and happy in order to keep the face of “abero” or grace,
* meaning that we accept the pain without opposition and without fight,
* Meaning that we suppress our emotions and we internalize what is going on outside of our life,
What happens then? After we have eaten all these “ghosse” or pain, we feel overwhelmed, we have no energy to fight, we cannot focus on the everyday life tasks, and we cannot be the person we want to be!
What can we do? Definitely talking to mental health professionals is a great help. In addition we need to learn to how to keep positive.
Whatever has happened to us that make us sad, we can always talk about them. Talking about feelings and unexpressed emotions help us to find peace with ourselves. This is not the regular talk we have at parties; we need to do it with the support of professionals. This is why people in western cultures seek therapy.
This is why all the research shows that therapy is effective in dealing with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and fear that is common among us. We have to fight the culture of grief and substitute it with culture of happiness.
We need to focus on our strengths and build upon that. Our culture of grief is sometimes complicated and does not let us breathe a fresh air.
Seek help and find ways to keep happy! So now, do not eat any ghosse! If you have issues to talk about, find the proper help and do not let depression take you!
Be healthy

January 26, 2008