The Polluted Air Makes My Mental Illness Worse

The air pollution in my city is taking away my peace of mind

Mind It
2 min read
How Pollution impacts my mental health 

Imagine stepping out for a walk, and feeling smoke not only pierce your chest, your eyes, your skin - but also your mind.

When we talk of air pollution, we often tend to bracket it into scientific, or medical information. Seldom do we connect it to the psychological.

But more and more research is finding that air pollution can worsen mental health in people.

And as I found out in the following conversations, toxic air impacts not just our body, but also our minds, and emotional soul.

Vijay Nallawala is suffering from two diseases (asthma and bipolar disorder), both of which, to some extent get aggravated because of air pollution. While his asthmatic condition translates to coughing and wheezing, his mood takes a hit looking at the gloom outside his window.

Meanwhile, Meesha Holley, a photojournalist and visual artist who moved to Delhi, India six years ago suffered from respiratory problems and sinus issues, until she decided enough was enough. She moved to Goa to live a healthier life. However, the spectre of pollution still continues to haunt Meesha even in her sleep.

I can’t remember the last time I had a peaceful sleep. All my dreams have some form of apocalyptic scenario.
Meesha Holley, Independent Journalist

Meanwhile Abhishek Rai, founder of a media startup, says that when his business was about to shut down, and he was going through a horrible time professionally, the pollution in the city only seemed to make his mental health worse.

When you live in a polluted city like Delhi, you can’t just reflect on something. You can’t go anywhere to clear your pessimism even for a few moments in a day.
Abhishek Rai, Startup Founder

As part of his work running the media platform, Let Me Breathe, Tamseel Hussain is witness to a lot of pollution-related stresses and anxieties.

He tells me how no one is immune from it; from the super privileged to the under privileged; from the people suffering from it to the activists fighting it, from parents to children. No one. So I asked him to tell me more about air pollution and it's impact on the mental health of people. This is what he said.

The word I will use is traumatic. You have kids being worried... parents being worried about the future of their kids. People are saying they don't want to bring their kids to a world where they can't even give them clean air.
Tamseel Hussain, Founder, Let Me Breathe

This is the reality, of living in polluted air, where not only our lungs are suffering, but our minds are too.

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