‘I Was Tested For Several Diseases But Nobody Thought Of Depression’

Posted by Munawar 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.

My body was properly regulating the amount of sugar in blood, they were right that I was not diabetic. There was no sign of deposition of yellowish pigmentation in the cornea of my eyes either. Nobody would think of calling me a jaundice patient. This vivid symptomatology gave a strong sense to my parents that I was not diseased. But what about my depression?

There I was lying drenched in sweat on the bed. With dried eyes refusing to shed a single tear. As if my entire universe had collapsed into a dark valley, as if there was hopelessness everywhere. The surroundings, unlike me, were carrying out their usual work, preoccupied by what-will-happen and what-am-I going-to-do-today faces.

People around me; cousins, parents, colleagues, everyone with whom I was associated, had not the slightest idea of my condition. They perceived me according to their own situations. They were happy and to them I seemed so.

Hijacked by some unknown dark forces, my subconscious was bereft of cognition. I barely ate, slept or worked. And it all happened because of that ominous medical entrance exam.

Everything was going well. I had cleared my higher secondary level exams with distinction. And then in the month of June 2012, the life-changer exam came: The Jammu and Kashmir Common Entrance Test (JKCET).

Men undergo depression too. They find it even more difficult to talk about mental illness in a society that terms an individual a lunatic for visiting the psychiatrist.

Before revealing this other part of the story, let me tell you that in Kashmir, a student is left with only two options after clearing the higher secondary exams. They either have to become a doctor or an engineer, and as my subjects were non-mathematical, I had only one option left. And then began my father’s and brother’s efforts.

But, to qualify the exam my curiosity and interest was customary and unfortunately, I had a negative propensity towards the exam. Forced against my will I was, every now and then, reprimanded and chastised by my father. Well, no one in the world can make a person do something against their will. If that person is offensively stubborn, then the situation is more confusing. As Dale Carnegie, in “How to Win Friends and Influence People” rightly puts it, “a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

Every method was used to force me to study for the exams. A jibe, comparing me to my engineer brother and flogging were my father’s dearest options. Devastated because of my father’s behavior, I started thinking of suicide, darkness became my favorite color. Locking my door from the inside and reading spiritual books was the only thing I did throughout the day and night.

There was no one with whom I could share my condition. I, myself, was unaware that the monster of depression had made its way into my mind. I knew the diseases: Influenza, Malaria, Cholera. But, depression was a disease I got to know about only a year later.

I survived dozens of suicidal thoughts, million minutes of pain, thousand hours of agony, hundred days of despair and dejection. I had to suffer because of social stigma. Because one was labelled “mad”, if found near a psychiatrist’s premises.

In this modern, sophisticated world, where people are talking about gay marriages, where sensitive topics like surrogacy and termination of pregnancies are on the lips of every civilized individual, why do people shy away from discussing depression?

Unlike other potential disorders, depression can be easily treated if diagnosed early. And the same, when left uncured, can drag you to the well of death. This is done by sowing the seed of suicide in your brain. So, the time has come to talk about it, discuss it with friends and with people who would not label you a “lunatic”. Save some pocket money and secretly visit a psychiatrist.

You won’t be ordered to take harmful drugs because of this disease. No, doctor will give you capsules. Follow what they say and get rid of this disease.