My fixation over mental health topics stems from my guilt. I lost many chances of supporting the most important person of my life due to unawareness around this topic.
Yes, I am talking about my father and the depression he dealt with alone. As a family we could not understand his health at that point of time because partly we had several other things to deal with and partly because we did not know about it.
I come from a middle class family and share my life with my parents and a brother. Ours was a very happy family until professional disturbances of my dad started interfering in our lives. My dad, who is a very calm person by nature, was suddenly accused as a rude, arrogant and abusive person by his colleagues. Several incidents at the workplace happened and that affected my father a lot. He could not recover from it.
As I grew up I saw my parents arguing over matters which were difficult for me to understand then. I remember several incidents of chaos and one of them was a suicide attempt by my mother (I can never forget that!).
My dad's mental health problem, which was not diagnosed at that point, made it difficult for the family to survive. Financial setbacks were the most difficult ones to deal with and the entire burden was on my mother who did not even have a job to help my dad (that's another reason why I am more focused on my job!)
People's narration about my dad embarrassed us and I remember once shouting at him for behaving crazily. I told him that I am ashamed of him.
It was until my 21st year, I learned about my dad's issue. I took him for his regular blood sugar checkup when the doctor asked me, separately, of his condition. I was about to dismiss his concern by saying that "he is like that" or "he is stubborn", but I stopped. The doctor said my dad has a serious psychiatric issue. It was for the first time I was introduced to the concept of mental health condition. I was taken aback and that's when guilt struck me. The doctor recommended some medicines.
It took me some time to process the information that I was wrong all these years and have been blaming a person for something he is unable to deal with. My dad was helpless and I was blaming him!
Later I spoke to my dad about his condition and requested him to leave job as I was already earning money and my brother had a good job. Finally, I was able to convince him to take early retirement. I was with him throughout the retirement procedures and did not leave him alone.
Today my dad is in a much better spot. He helps my mom with household chores. Understands his responsibilities and never argues with my mom any more. He even sits with me and explains me to focus on my career. We go on family trips together, just like we used to when I was a kid.
We, as a family, expect lots of support and care from each other; and because of that sometimes we forget what the other person is going through. We take love and care for granted.