Sharmin Delowar

Wed Jul 01 2020 04:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

44013S D

“The mental health of many Bengali women in my life reminds me of oak tree seeds. The seeds take root and the tree grows taller with each abuse. Raised in the South Asian community, I witnessed Desi women neglect their mental health, their happiness being more of an option than a necessity. My mother and aunts would constantly host dawats for in-laws for a load despite their emotional exhaustion. I recall the crisp, cold day my aunt came home pouring out all that she had been facing at her in-laws. Her abuse, however, was not physical and she was advised to have ‘sabr’, and neglect her health to protect her reputation. My aunt seemed numb after hearing their harsh words, numb to the brisk cold that day.

It is disappointing that in the name of ‘sabr’, women compromise their happiness in hopes that problems will fix themselves one day. I did not realize the influence this toxicity had on me until I experienced depressive symptoms that I would rather veil than seek help. Patience was not the key to everything and problems could not be blamed on spirituality. It was time to stand up for vulnerability and mental health.

On a visit to Bangladesh a few years ago, I saw how a large populations’ mental and physical health was at risk due to a corrupt government. I witnessed a poor pregnant woman going through an unnecessary and dreadful experience at the hospital. Women in the street could not feed their newborns due to malnutrition. Many people could not afford medical help.

Bangladesh Development Project gave me the platform to bring forth change I envisioned for the country. As a privileged Bangladeshi-American, I work to help raise the golden sun of Bangladesh, whose aura offers a sense of hope for the unfortunate. The relationships I formed with members and the projects we achieved has helped in the process of healing my depression. As a future physician, I hope to return to Bangladesh with the Bangladesh Development Project and additional resources to improve healthcare and access to basic necessities. I will raise awareness to remove the taboo of mental health and encourage utilization of mental health services.”