Let’s Get It Straight: People Living With Depression Aren’t ‘Crazy’

Posted by Ashwathi Menon in #LetsTalk, Mental Health, Society
April 7, 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.

I still fall on my face sometimes/ And I can’t colour inside the lines /‘Cause I’m perfectly incomplete /I’m still working on my masterpiece.”

I sat there humming the tune and barely shaking my head to the beats. I hadn’t listened to music for weeks. Inside, I felt a storm settle as I gave into the music.

Am I fine? No! Honestly speaking, I don’t think anyone is. Most of us feel a variety of emotions, daily. However, we don’t have generally have time or the will to express them. Neither do we want to know what our fellow beings may be going through.

We often find it hard to get our lives back on track, since we get too involved trying to keep up with life’s pace. Yes, depression is real. So is anxiety. And yes, it’s perfectly normal if you suffer from it. But not many people understand what it really feels like to be trapped in that phase when you are no longer happy and not pleased by the things that once made you feel good about yourself.

Arjun Bhardwaj’s live Facebook video left me extremely disturbed and traumatised. I have been in a similar situation, and I can understand Arjun’s pain and anguish before he decided to end his life.

What bothers me more is the number of people speaking insensitive things about Arjun’s act. They are saying things like ‘Oh, he didn’t even think about his family’ , ‘He destroyed a gift of god’,  ‘It’s a crime’, etc . If you too subscribe to these comments, then you are being ignorant and callous.

Ask yourself this question. Do you know what it feels like to be so done with life that you don’t even want to live anymore – when you are so messed up that nothing else matters, and the more you struggle, the deeper you sink? Not everybody is fortunate enough to get out of this state. This may happen to anybody who has decided to give up. And if you didn’t or couldn’t reduce their suffering or stop them, you shouldn’t judge them for their drastic actions, either!

We’re all social beings and some of us go through bad experiences in our lives. Some struggle due to brain dysfunction. People should realise that like any other part of the human body, the brain can also suffer from problems, which may require treatment. This isn’t anything abnormal!

‘How do I deal with this?’

While some of us recover, others resort to self-destructive behaviour. Moreover, there are also people who simply give up. And they do so not because they’re weak. In fact, they’ve probably fought far too long, perhaps without help.

When I posted this on my Facebook page, a lot of people approached me saying that they could relate to this but were too scared to speak out. Some said that they weren’t sure who they should ask for help. In many occasions, their families, from whom they eagerly seek help, reject them. Instead, they’re made to feel guilty for feeling the way they do.

Our society labels such people ‘crazy’. I personally know a lot of people who project themselves as social justice warriors and advocates of mental health awareness on social media and outside. However, when I was struggling with clinical depression and anxiety, I saw their hypocrisy. Back then, the same people blamed me as if it was all my fault. To rub salt to my wounds, they also said that it was all ‘in my head’. In fact, I lost respect for many people I used to have high regard for, previously. I also realised how this ‘faultless perception’ spread – if this is how educated people talked of mental health, how could I blame the people who had a minimal or no idea of this?

One of the major problems here lies in our schooling. In schools and even in colleges, we aren’t taught how to deal with issues pertaining to mental health or how to help persons suffering from these issues.

According to the Ontario Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), people with mental illness say stigma and discrimination are two of the biggest barriers to leading a satisfying life. This is also one of the major reasons why someone might not seek the mental health assistance which they may need. How can we solve an issue if we are not aware of the issue in the first place.

While there are several examples of people overcoming depression and other mental illness to excel in life, they did so with the assistance of others and by being treated correctly. We cannot let more people lose the battle to a problem that can be resolved. We need to help ourselves and others (who may need our help).

This is where we need to start – by talking about the issue, listening and exploring ourselves. Moreover, we need to live and let others live!

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