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In conversation with Ira Singhal : An ePsyClinic Exclusive

17 Aug 2015

“Seeking mental health is linked with declaring yourself weak or mad which is so sad”

“My life is my own, my challenges and battles are my own so, why let others judge me?”

Ira Singhal, MBA from FMS, secured Rank 1 in UPSC exam and has conquered over her condition of scoliosis. This IAS officer in making is an incredibly positive person and has inspired an entire nation with her commitment to serve the nation. How was her journey of being an IAS? How did she overpower her obstacles and stress? What is her take on mental health in India and what needs to be done? Speaks up Ira in this exclusive chat with Moulika Mandal, counseling psychologist at .


1. Tell us briefly about your pursuit for the IAS exam. Why did you choose to become an IAS?

Even since I was a kid, I really wanted to serve my country, wanted to do something for the society and took interest in social service. I also wanted to be a doctor. The journey has been like preparing for any other exam.  I didn’t do anything extraordinary thing to prepare for this exam. Whether you give your CAT, IITJEE or IAS exam, it is more or less all the same.


2. What were the primary struggles you had to face? With yourself? With family? With society?

Not really. I am a very positive person and do not focus on negative things. The biggest thing about the whole thing is figuring out what is the cause and figuring out how to get into this and that hold true for everyone who is attempting the exam. You go over the things repeatedly and it has to do a lot about introspection about yourself. You have to ask yourself where YOU went wrong. It is about being honest with yourself, admitting your mistakes and correcting yourself.


3. Was there any point of time you just wanted to give up because there must be a lot of stress? What did you tell yourself and not give up?

First of all I didn’t have any expectation threshold. I never thought that I have to clear this exam and if I don’t I will be a nobody. It was never proving something to anybody or the society. It was only that I want to do something for my country and this is how I can do it. It wasn’t about my ego or any fear that people will think I am a loser. My life is my own, my challenges and battles are my own so, why let others judge me? You can’t worry about the world thinking about you, they haven’t been in your shoes. What works for me doesn’t work for others and what works for others may not work for me.  Also, I am an MBA and I can have an alternate career any day. When you have all the chips in the same basket and do not have any other career to go back to, this exam becomes all about life and death and the pressure and stress starts to well up. I made sure I had another job to go back to. So, this exam was only to do things I have wanted to do for my country. These were the things I told myself.


4. If ever you felt that you were failing, what did you do get yourself back in the field?

I watch a lot of movies and American series. I read a lot. I travel a lot. My preparation was more about doing those things and whatever time I got amidst them, I studied (chuckles). I never made huge deal of this. So, I never felt I failing. I made everything a part of the process.


5. What do you think about the mental health care system in India? Now that you are going to be an IAS officer, are you planning on doing anything for the mental health care sector?

Sadly, it is lacking. And even, if it is there, people are unwilling to access. Somehow, seeking mental health is linked with declaring yourself weak or mad which is so sad. All of us go through pressures and traumas. Unless, we recognize and get help for them, the society can’t progress. All the people who succumb to mental stress and even commit suicide, I wish they had gone to a professional and had taken help.  Even though I am too low on the ladder to be planning on such things but mental health care sector really needs some boosting.


6. If you have to say 5 things on how to keep your mental strength and be happy, what would they be?

a. Don’t compare yourself with others and judge other’s lives

b. Analyze the negative thoughts, why you are having and how can you stop them

c. Be honest with yourself and others. Self introspection, figuring out and correcting self are great ways to have insights on you. Admit your mistakes and apologize for them.

d. Try to see positive things in everyone rather than judging them and move ahead negative situations rather focusing on the fact that it is negative. See what can be solved and what can’t and just move on to the next step.

e. Look at yourself and your life and how to make it better. Instead of looking at others, thinking how they have it better, find your own potentials and work on them.


Tags: #Ira Singhal