A teenager’s tale of surviving comparison with his elder brother
Growing up with an elder sibling who is a rank-holder in school has its pitfalls. As a young boy, Rishabh was subjected to comparison from his teachers and students. Every time Rishabh would score good marks, the teachers would often give credit to his elder brother for inspiring him. On the other hand, at home, his parents would often criticise him for not being as good as his elder brother.
The pressure to be as good as his brother doubled when the board exams were around the corner. Every time Rishabh would sit to study, his attention would drift to the gold medal his brother received when he topped in 12th board. In a fraction of a second, he would lose some part of his self-confidence. Some part of his self-esteem slipped a notch.
On the outside, Rishabh would project an image that everything is alright, from the inside he was sinking. His heart sank even lower when relatives would pop up in the house and would automatically start praising his elder brother for his achievements, completely side-lining Rishabh for his efforts.
Soon, with trembling confidence and the pressure to out-perform his own brother, he appeared for the grade 12 board exams. After every exam, he would build a façade of cheerfulness but deep inside he knew that he might not get as many marks as his brother.
He started to self-blame. He started to criticize himself. He started to internalise the belief that he is not good enough. This ruminative thought pattern stuck with him for months till the exam results did not come out. But once they did, and he did not score as much as his brother, he felt his self-esteem going down the drain.
Soon, he lost all hope and started contemplating suicide. Believing that ending his life will be the solution to his problems seemed the perfect idea to his fear-ridden mind. He would wake up every morning with suicidal thoughts. His brother happened to visit home during this phase and realised that things are not right with Rishabh. He started talking to him and understood his depressed state of mind. Furthermore, he understood that Rishabh needs professional counselling.
Tips on how to combat suicidal thoughts:
1. Acknowledge negative feelings and ask for support:
If you are going through a rough time ask for support. Ask for support from family, or friends, or get professional support from a counsellor/psychologist. If you don’t know or have contacts of a professional, ask your doctor for a reference. Just as every coin has two sides, life too has two sides; positive and negative. Just as we embrace the positive feelings, we could also accept the negative feelings and talk about them instead of ignoring them as a passing phase.
2. Be honest:
Be honest to yourself about how you feel and the same with people whom you may depend on. Everyone goes through bad times/phases, past or present, and we gotta be ready to talk about it and accept the feelings that we may have been hiding. Think about past experiences and how you overcame some difficult times and may apply the learnings to the current situation or just learn from how others have dealt with similar situations.
3. Stay connected socially:
Always stay connected with your family and friends. They are our support system, and will always help during adversities we face in life. They ensure that we are not alone and develop a sense of belongingness and importance.
4. Seek professional help:
There are many treatment options for people who are contemplating taking their own life. More than 90% of people who commit suicide have one or more treatable mental illnesses. Even if the root cause is not a mental illness, coping techniques and emotional support are proven methods to aid those in need.
Hope this is helpful. For more help and conversations, you can chat with our mental health experts between 10 am and 8 pm. We guide and suggest initial preventive solutions.