Why My Depression Comes From The Alienation I Feel From Society

This story is a part of Youth Ki Awaaz’s weekly topic #MentalHealthDay. Share your personal stories of coping with a mental illness, trying to access mental healthcare or any experience with mental health here.

‘Depression’ is a 3-syllable word, a bit hard to spell for a child. ‘Suicide’, on the other hand, is a 2-syllable word, and almost every child can write it down.

Yet, right now, as I write this article, both words seem terribly hard. The violence of words, it seems, rises not from a singular point of origin, but from the effects they have had on our lives. Today, on my birthday, 23 years after, I can think of no other words to describe the latter part of my life.

Mental illness has plagued me since the age of 15. Freshly out of love, I took some destructive decisions that I still regret. Till today, I have found far more solace in a blade than in anything else. Heck, even last week, while dealing with severe suicidal thoughts, I almost reached out to the surgical knife.

Yet, I am on medication now – and I am better, even if I am not well. Some days, I spend my hours thinking of any unifying principle I might find behind my depression – any causation that I can pin down.

Mental illnesses aren’t our faults. I say this not as a patient, but as a budding neuroscientist who has been studying the discipline for well over two years. My depression, for example, comes from the underlying alienation I feel from the society. I am privileged enough to be able to hide my sexual orientation. However, it also leads to a lot of confusion in my personal sphere. On the one hand, I am usually confronting this idea that I am still perceived as a heterosexual even in my close circles – on the other, I ‘dress up’ my homosexuality in piety whenever my family is concerned. This dichotomous living takes everything away from me.

For instance, for the past few months, I have been dreaming of wearing a dress and writing poetry in one of my favourite cafes. Yet, as things stand, I know that I might alienate the waiters who have got to know me so well, that I will face much opposition from the established society, which believes me to be a ‘certain way’.

Even within the gay community, my lifestyle involving multiple partners and a frank movement attracts scorn from my friends. It seems that our escape from heteronormativity lies in gender, and not in our sexual lives. Partly, for the lack of monogamy in my life, I blame myself. I am particularly impossible to be with in my depressed moods – and when I am happy, I cannot bring myself to invest in a relationship because that takes a lot of emotional labour.

For me, this confessional thus becomes a cop-out. You believe that my depression moves outward and not inward, because I am not saintly – and that I blame my community and my society for the ills that have befell me. This is a risk I am willing to take purely on an ideological standpoint, because, from the age of 12, my society has refused to walk with me. The invaginations in thought that my society provides for supposed integrations have been shallow, muddy holes, where I cannot completely be myself. Proud as I am, I refuse to be just your iconography or your fetish.

Yet, I must re-iterate – I am taking medicines. I tried to overdose on them a week ago. I lost consciousness and woke up feeling that I should have been dead. Yet, I survived. My body still pushed out the poisons so that I could survive. And while, the idea of a ‘central purpose’ is ridiculous, I believe that there are things I can do yet. So, this is me telling you that there is no better – and no worse. However, you need to accept yourself and remember that the society is only a product of the power of a few bigoted old people, and you needn’t subscribe to it.

I would learn to remember that too – but, baby steps right now, I am just trying to be happy!

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