It starts with not wanting to get out of bed in the morning. Another pointless day of your pointless existence, you think to yourself. Yet you get out of bed anyway and go about your daily routine to the best of your capabilities. But something’s off, and you can’t for the love of god figure out what it is. All you know is that you’d much rather be curled up in bed at that moment, even if there’s no explanation as to why you’d want to do so.
Gradually, it starts reflecting in your daily routine as well. Suddenly, you’ve lost your appetite for all kinds of food entirely. Or maybe you’ve started eating much more than you normally did. Your motivation to do basic chores has dwindled away; and so has the desire to maintain your social life. Maybe you can’t sleep at all, your own thoughts keeping you awake through the night. Or perhaps you’ve started sleeping too much, to the point where sleep is your best friend, and waking up has become your nightmare. You no longer feel happy; it’s as if you’re incapable of being happy, no matter what you do – But everyone else’s life seems perfect, and you constantly compare yourself to them, desperately trying to figure out where you went wrong.
And then finally, it consumes you. It takes over your life, creeping up on you every day, every minute, every second. You feel lost, tired and hopeless. You’ve pushed everyone away, but you also feel forgotten. You spend hours staring at the ceiling, just laying there in silence. Perhaps you cry yourself to sleep every day, for no specific reason. And perhaps, you’ve thought about ending your life, making the pain go away once and for all.
Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and at its worst, it can also lead to suicide. A WHO report titled ‘Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders — Global Health Estimates’ says that as of 2015, over five crore Indians suffer from depression, and over two-thirds of global suicides occurred in low and middle-income countries such as India in that year. Then what is it that holds us back from talking about our mental disorders? Why is it that despite such alarmingly high statistics, mental disorders are often taken lightly in our country, and seeking therapy elicits social stigma still?
In March 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his radio address ‘Mann Ki Baat’, urged the people of India to start talking about depression and other mental health issues more openly, saying that “We [in India] are afraid to talk about it [depression] openly,” and was quoted saying, “Suppression of depression is not good. Expression is always good. If depressed, share your feelings with others, it will make you feel better.” But it isn’t as easy at it seems, is it?
Sure, depression has become a living room topic. People talk about it, and almost everyone has an opinion about it. While some are sympathetic, empathetic even, there are many who don’t know about it but are compassionate and make an effort to try and understand it. But there are also many who simply don’t understand it, and don’t even try to.
Too many times, people who don’t understand the reality of depression see people battling it as weak, lazy, cowardly or fake as if someone would choose such a lifestyle willingly. The really insensitive ones will tell you that you’re just ‘being lazy’ and that you just need to ‘get over it’, and might throw in a ‘you’re too sensitive’ or a ‘stop overthinking’ occasionally. But here’s the thing: no one enjoys living life laying in bed, stuck in a constant loop of self-doubt, unable to find the motivation to get out of it and go to the kitchen to get something to eat, or even do something as basic as going to the bathroom to take a shower.
So yes, talking about your depression might be difficult. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Depression (or any other mental illness you might be suffering from) is indeed a very serious condition, and ignoring it certainly won’t make it go away. If you had a broken arm, would ignoring it make it go away? Just like you need someone to fix your body after a fracture, you also need someone to fix your mental state once it’s been plagued by depression, and it can be treated, either by therapy or by medication, depending on the severity of the case.
Your mental well-being is as important as your physical well-being, so if you think you’re exhibiting symptoms of depression, please don’t hesitate to reach out to someone. It could be anyone you trust will understand what you’re going through, and not deem your feelings invalid. If you think no one in your close proximity can comprehend your mental state, try going to a therapist instead. And if the idea of going to a therapist scares you, try reaching out to someone whom you know has gone through what you’re going through, even if it’s online, or through a support group. But please, reach out. Once you do, you’ll feel so much better, I promise. And don’t give up. Do your best, even if that’s just brushing your teeth or finishing an overdue assignment. Getting better is all about taking baby steps, and if you make continuous efforts towards getting better, you’ll be okay sooner than you know it.