Being vulnerable is the hardest choice one could make. Then again, it’s never a choice. You just happen to be vulnerable.
‘Anxiophobia’ – the fear and extreme condemnation of anxiety, hopelessness and fear – is not just in the people who suffer from it, but also in normal, healthy people who dread that somehow, the ‘depressive vibes’ of the sufferer would contaminate them too, if they go anywhere near them. As such there are specialised people with their fancy degrees, specifically trained for the purpose of handling ‘it’ – the so-called ‘madness of the depressed’. No healthy person ever approaches the ‘infected’ persons, out of fear that they too may get ‘infected’. It’s a slow, painful and lonely death.
It’s a disease you do not even want to disclose, because disclosing it often accentuates it. In place of sympathy and hope, all you get is the judgements and the accusing eyes of others. You are responsible, no matter what! In our country, either you are ‘crazy’, or you are not. There is no middle ground. There is nothing such as ‘unstable’, there is no ‘depression’, no ‘perpetual anxiety’!
In order to understand the root cause of the stigma attached to depression, I tried questioning why this stigma exists in the first place? Why is vulnerability not just dreaded, but also condemned – and the vulnerable ostracised from the community? Society is complex – and it’s not my concrete hatred for it that I write what I write. What I write is simply the truth that I happen to stumble upon, after hours of thinking.
Yes, you guessed it right! I am the ‘infected’. I happen to be one amongst the millions suffering from depression. I believe that depression is a constant influx of abundant feelings of inexplicable grief, increased sensitivity, and an increased empathy for the sad and unhappy, at the same time. It’s often said that the depressed are the most spiritual as we happen to feel more than an average person.
So, one day, this humble lady came up to me, with a look of hate and pity in her eyes, and told me, “You are too unstable“. As if I didn’t know it already! I only replied with a sombre “maybe“. What I really wanted to tell her was – “You know what? It’s a battle each day. When you put on a happy face, you force yourself to ‘smile’. You force yourself to be in the moment even when the high frequency of your thoughts and the state of your mind fails you. You desire company, you desire help – but you end up losing even the little you have, for you seem, what they call in popular culture, needy and weird.”
When I say that society is complex, I mean it’s everything it shouldn’t be – most importantly, it’s patriarchal and misogynist in essence. ‘Crying’, ‘feeling’, ‘excessive humility’, ‘over-thinking’ are what popular culture deems as ‘lunacy’, ‘irrationality’, and unfortunately, ‘the niche of the feminine’.
It is possible that the prejudice and the stigma towards depression stems from the very fact that society is largely patriarchal. It looks down upon women, and places femininity much below masculinity. As such, sympathising for depression or any other psychological problem, emotional or otherwise, causes much contempt. Apparently, depression is largely the darker and the undesirable shades of emotions – the so-called ‘blues’, which adds to the ‘Anxiophobia/Depresso-phobia’.
Therefore, when you tell me, “If it’s a cancer of the brain and emotions, why do you not get treated?“, I will say, “It takes time, in fact years, to be fully healed – but I would urge you not to hate me till then, and not to scar me any further, keeping in mind the scars I already bear – and most importantly, not to censure the stories of my past.“