I Wish I Knew Earlier What My Best Friend Is Going Through

Posted by Richa Das in #LetsTalk, Mental Health
April 5, 2017
This story is in response to Youth Ki Awaaz’s topic for this week – #LetsTalk to start a conversation on the stigma around depression. If you have an opinion or personal story of dealing with or helping someone else deal with depression or suicidal thoughts, write to us here.

It is impossible to believe that after having lived through all these years and decisions, my best friend and I are only 18-years-old. The restlessness of not being understood and not being able to understand, made these few years seem like hopeless decades of whose memories still daunt me and freak me the hell out.

Depression is a disease, in its most vile definitive, practical and understated form. It creeps up out of nowhere and creates the most delusional ideas of self inadequacy, jerking one to a dark halt from where the road ahead seems completely blank. I don’t want to dive into what depression is and how it corrodes one’s soul because I haven’t experienced it first hand myself. However I have lived through every inch of it when my best friend was torn apart.

I wish depression was all about a contextualized problem that psychoanalysis could free a person from it. I believed that. I did everything I could think of to find all plausible roots to my best friend’s perennial sadness. I was too immature. I didn’t know that it wasn’t in her control. I thought, “I have problems too, I am not crying my life apart, she can take care of herself too.”

Like the good old Horace, I assumed that my exemplary life would shield her and encourage her to spring right out of it, to beam the same old sunshine like she always did. And she did try to do that for me. She wiped her bloodied sadness away only so I didn’t get anxious and worried. She stopped telling me about the demons that still creeped up her bed at night and I assumed that just maybe, she had fought and won the battle.

As time passed and I became wiser, I learnt that my measures had only forced my best friend to repress her thoughts leading to an ingrained frustration in her. The realization shook me, and by the time I decided to make amends, most of what seemed to be her life, was ruined. She was academically, physically, emotionally and psychologically more distraught than ever.

I kept thinking that she would fight and emerge victorious any time. But all her conflicts, all her questions about herself remained unanswered and she kept looking for them in the most self-destructive ways.

What people fighting depression really need is a friend, a listener.

She sought external help but I knew the real problems could not be answered through the essays and poems that the counsellor asked her to write. I knew the answers were probably deep within herself, and that is the case with everyone in this world. The only difference is that some people have the emotional girth and wisdom to seek those answers and some don’t.

She had that emotional ability but society and its nonchalance had brought her down, faster than a pebble thrown off a cliff. Depression, to me, is proof that kindness exists because of the sanctuary extended by people who have become vulnerable while trying to understand the world, having been heavily let down by it.

Today she still laughs when we talk and cries to sleep on the same night. But now, I know better. I know that her thoughts, her disparities, her questions, her expectations, her wishes and her shattered ideas of happiness are not a sign of weakness. They are perceptions and express her ability to vitalize the world through the lens of emotions.

There are too many sad people in the world, and I don’t just mean the urban privileged ones who have had the ability to recognize and treat their depression, lucky enough to have loving people around them, but I mean the people who are so alone and sad and bereft. They need help. The people who are now out of this cycle of perpetuated delusion and sadness will know that the world is so much better. They will know that a hug heals better than the wounds of tears.

A depression free world is utopian and to the hopeless optimist, a world that is full of depression is just as utopian. We can chose our version of delusion and succumb to it making it real. Lets begin by the voices and sobs closest to us. I did and haven’t succeeded yet, but will always keep trying, maybe one day I will know enough to save the world.