The Coast Guard at High Tides // Misbah Ahmad

Once a depression patient defined depression as being a loud sea crashing the min with waves beating against the shores of thoughts. The beating would make them wash away gradually as pebbles and ultimately disappearing as foam. It took a long time for our society to understand this metaphor of unseen yet extreme pain. But, eventually, people have started to recognize it as an illness which needs proper nourishment both physically and mentally.  Along with the recognition of mental struggles, many new characters and role have been introduced in the society. The most important one is the caretaker of the depression patient who takes the responsibility of keeping the sufferer off the shores of the unrest sea of despair, thus fitting himself to the title of “the coast guard at high tides”.  It could be a friend, a spouse, a sibling, a child or anyone who is strong enough to stand before their loved ones to save, defend and attend them.

Living in a society where the concept of depression is quite new it is not easy to be a caretaker either. You have to go through the same pain as the sufferer is going through but you have to be more strong as you have to not only keep yourself standing but you have to hold onto your loved one. Being such support is not easy you have to first educate yourself enough about the illness the patient is experiencing and then you have to educate and answer everyone else. Sometimes you feel like giving up, you feel annoyed at yourself. As a caretaker, you have to give up on your own life to help your loved one to find a way back to the shore.

You have to go through the same pain and tolerate the same questioning stares depression patients would experience.  You have to answer every “what”, “how”, “who”, “when”. You have to tolerate everyone making guesses at the possible “reason” of the patient’s condition. Thus in shielding your loved ones, you have to endorse the same struggle they are going through, and it takes a lot of courage, devotion, understanding and love to do so. Therefore, such people need our support just as mentally ill patient needs. We need to introduce and endorse the idea of support groups for them, we need to develop and spread understanding and awareness about attending mentally ill patients as well as the ways to deal and interact with their relatives and close ones.

Although we are slowly making a progress towards being a better society for mentally ill patients but there are so many things to be taken under consideration. If only we would understand the imagery of the coast and thrashing wave, we will be able to understand the chaos the patient and his family might be going through. This understanding alone can save us from transforming into the “unreal city” of Eliot’s wasteland.

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