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

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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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  1. Ashwathi Menon

    Did you even read my post? For starters, is depression limited to lower or middle class people? Living in a 5star hotel, drinking or smoking cigarettes doesn’t imply the person isn’t depressed. Your idea of happiness or well being isn’t the same as everyone. Even famous celebrities like Deepika Padukone and Robin Williams struggled with their mental illnesses. Who are you to judge whether a person is eligible to be depressed or not?
    Secondly, even in my post I’ve written that not every person’s experience with depression is the same. Arjun resorted to self destructive behaviour which a lot of people do. And it’s tragic and unfortunate he lost his battle.
    Also, aren’t we all escapists? We all have our own methods of escaping from the atrocities of life. Some chose to bury it within art, some drink and so on.

    And lastly, no he didn’t leave any “bad impact”. His suicide is an eye opener and a catalyst for mainstream media to realize how important mental health awareness is and for articles like these to be written.

    Please read through incidents and not spread hate based on misinformed opinions.

  2. CREATIVE MINDS

    You are absolutely right Ashwati. that feeling of “everything is in head” is so difficult to understand for the person who is suffering. and the one feel shame and guilt for not behaving normal. one lost one’s rational thinking and unable to make out between right and wrong. and situation will become worse when your loved ones says handle your madness on your own its all in your head.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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