By Moin Mubarak:
The recent declaration of the twelfth standard CBSE results brought back memories from my days. I had planned to get more marks than the cutoffs demanded, and it was difficult. Like most of us, I got caught up in different activities due to various reasons my parents had (mostly, excuses in my case) and couldn’t score as well as I had expected. However, they weren’t a major cause of my stress. We are all bombarded with images of successful toppers for whom life is all joy and comfort. Most of us desire to attain that. Yet, we aren’t able to. Life isn’t that simple.
Long story short, I got into a college I hated and spent three years of my college life in despair. I hated everything around me. I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and depression. I looked okay to my friends, but I was in a constant state of inner turmoil. Being depressed because of college, low marks, or any such thing is termed as ‘disenfranchised grief’ (my therapist taught me this) as it isn’t recognised as a valid reason to be depressed about. I had denied the possibility of being depressed even though I had lost interest in all activities which I earlier liked. I didn’t talk to people, and I didn’t speak much to my close friends either.
The funny thing about depression is that once you recognise it for what it is, the effects become clearer – be it physiological or psychological. Low self-esteem, low appetite, loss of interest in everyday activities, and several other symptoms. Mostly we try to shrug it off by comparing it with the fatigue of everyday work. But the important distinction that can be made is that fatigue wears off, depression doesn’t. Sleep doesn’t help it. Eating doesn’t help it. It leaves you feeling helpless. A lot of young people are pushed into suicide due to this helplessness, apart from the pressure of being labelled as incompetent and irrelevant.
So if you find yourself in such a situation, what can you do? Don’t give up hope. Easier said than done. But convince yourselves that come what may, taking our life isn’t an option. Numerous celebrities have talked about their depression, how it made life miserable for them. Yet, we fail to give it the respect it deserves. Just because the symptoms aren’t physically evident doesn’t mean everything is alright.
Seeking help is one of the biggest steps you can take in this situation. The more we judge ourselves for being depressed, the worse it becomes. We need a space that is non-judgemental and understanding, be it a friend, a parent, a sibling, or even a therapist. Yes, a therapist. There is nothing wrong with visiting one. I visited four different therapists. Finally, I settled on one, and I discussed everything about my life with her.
I found my therapist via a simple Google search. I picked a doctor at random with good experience and went ahead. It was a little risk I was taking. I had nothing to lose but the doctor’s fee. I deliberately chose one who was far from where I lived, so no one knew where I was off to. As I entered the clinic, a regular scenario greeted me. A receptionist took my name and made a file. I was sent to a room where a psychologist took my details and asked me about my problems. Then I was sent in to see the psychiatrist, a cheerful and welcoming man who talked to me about what was wrong and examined me. It was as regular as a visit to a dentist. I was put on anti-depressants and medicine for anxiety. In a few weeks, I could see the restlessness go away. The physiological symptoms reduced slowly. Meanwhile, I started my counselling with the psychologist.
The critical distinction that I’d like to highlight here is that a psychiatrist is a trained medical doctor and can prescribe medicines. Psychologists are trained in studying human behaviour. They help you understand and modify how you behave. For me, both went hand in hand. One helped me to tackle the physiological effects, and the other helped me to understand why I felt the way I felt.
Gradually I realised that popping pills wasn’t the answer; addressing the root cause is. Self-reflection and self-awareness are critical to understanding yourself. Depression takes its own time to fade away. Slowly we see that life is more than our problems and that we are capable of facing them. We have to keep the conversation going and know that there is an end to this dark tunnel.