Depression. The silent wraith strangling you with all its might day after day. Covertly. It’s might increasing exponentially, where all you are left with is a shell of a person. A kaleidoscope of worn out faces, where you lose the sense of who you are. The crippling feeling of shame, the monster which eats you up from within.
But one day I decided that it was enough. That my 20-something self would fight back with all her might. That I would overcome this monster called depression, and walk towards recovery. And I did.
The societal stigma attached to mental disorders in today’s world is disconcertingly alarming. The world would rather reward you for keeping up appearances than acknowledge your true self and your demons. When I was diagnosed with clinical depression at 18, along with Bipolar II and Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), it was as if the earth beneath me had shifted, and I had lost sense of my reality. I struggled throughout college, trying in vain to explain my condition to friends who were concerned, or those who pretended to be concerned and faced a never-ending cycle of ridicule and shame. My introverted nature and my innate awkwardness made me triply marginalized, and I started losing friends. The world suddenly became unbearably hostile and oppressive to live in.
I drowned myself in music and poetry. Plath’s words became scathingly poignant, like an itch you cannot scratch, but are always aware of. It was around this time that I discovered black metal and submerged my preoccupation with death and destruction in the hauntingly beautiful guitar riffs, the beauty and horror that this genre is. But, it wasn’t enough. With the cruel indifference of the people around me and the berating words of online bullies, it was never okay.
I relentlessly bled within.
I had tried everything from art to martial arts, to repeated trips to the psychologist, to medicine, to immersing myself in academics – everything. Nothing worked, and the void within me was as bleak and dark as it could be. But then I happened to talk to an ex-classmate of mine who was going through something similar. He too was as torn and bruised, if not more, but I was overwhelmed by his compassion towards me, as a friend, as someone who understood. It was then that I realised – I was not alone. There are millions of young people, with their eyes full of dreams and their hearts full of angst, who have mental disorders which are met with silence, ignorance, stigmas, stereotypes and abuse. I needed help, and they need help too, and this is what I decided to do.
It’s been almost a year since I opened a Facebook page named It’s All A Masquerade – an advice and comfort blog run by me, where you can anonymously post about your issues. In the first few months of founding the page, I was overwhelmed with the innumerable posts I got – teenagers dealing with abuse in their families, people with self-harm issues, eating disorders, cases of bullying, of unbearable heartbreak, of body image issues and so much more. I opened my eyes to the real world, a world of repressed realities where creative, talented and wonderful people were demonized for suffering. A suffering which cannot be articulated, which cannot be actualized.
I invite you, no matter who you are, to seek help. To open up to me, without having to carry your burden completely on your shoulders. Art will always be a wonderful outlet for depressed people, as it is for poets and lovers; but so will human connection. Depression is not mightier than me, or you, or the collective throng of beating hearts in this world. Here’s a little poem I wrote, for all of you fighting valiantly out there:
at the untranslatable dilemma
of making you realise what weapons you wield
Achilles would battle Troy 9 times over
to be like you; to be just like you.”