So, it’s the first of November. People across the world are attempting to write fifty thousand words in the month of November. And I am writing thirty posts this month, of which, this is the first. My first prompt was given by Christina, a fellow blogger and my friend from college. You can find her at Cartoon Heart. It seems she has been reading a lot of Sylvia Plath (she says so) because the first thing she told me when I asked her for a prompt was ‘Depression’.
Depression is very touchy subject for a lot of people, often because of the way it is represented in the media. I first learned about it back in eleventh grade or junior college, during our psychology lectures. Even then, the full understanding of mental illness and its impact upon people wasn’t very clear to me. It took tumblr, Twitter and people raising their voices for me to comprehend how stigmatized depression is today’s society. People are quick to dismiss mental illness as something that is different from physical illness or injury. Simply because you cannot see the part of the body being affected, does not mean you can dismiss it as a figment of somebody’s imagination.
I have never suffered from depression, but from the way people speak about it and from what I have read and studied about it, it involves acute sadness for days and months and involves an inability to generate interest in doing things – everyday or otherwise. It isn’t something you can simply will your mind to ‘get over’ or ‘snap out of’. If you can’t snap out of a fractured arm or a broken ankle, you can’t snap out of a depressed state of being. This is your brain being affected, the primary organ in everybody’s life – the one that pretty much keeps you, ‘you’. I am not going to cite research and statistics, if you’re interested you can Google it. What I am going to tell you is how many people, including teenagers suffer from it across the world.
People my age shouldn’t have to feel hopelessness and despair; they should be out enjoying life, studying about the world and making relationships to last a lifetime. What is happening is far from it – the change in the way people treat each other, the constant worry about being number one or being one of the top ten to secure a place in the highly competitive society, broken families thanks to the decreasing value of love and trust are among the causes that lead to depression. It sucks, it sucks when you can’t motivate yourself to do anything to help yourself – you just can’t.
What can help is a good support system – good friends, observant family members who pay attention to you and understand what you’re going through. I know living in India equals people who often scoff at the idea of a mental illness, and then immediately stigmatize it. Why though? Why should be ashamed of seeking help for your mental health and security? If you were to attempt to bandage your fractured arm on your own, wouldn’t they say, “Isn’t it better / safer if you went to the doctor to get this done? You might make it worse if you delay getting help.” Why should it be any different when you seek help from a psychologist or a psychiatrist?
This is one of the primary reasons I am so happy and supportive when celebrities reveal their struggles with depression and other mental illnesses. Actress Deepika Padukone opened up about her depression and now she has opened up a foundation named ‘Live Love Laugh’ to help those who are battling depression. This gives out the message that it is okay to talk about it, it is okay to seek help.
If you have friends who suffer from depression, please make a point to support them – emotionally and mentally. Simply be there for them, it might take some time but they will respond and hopefully, they will not be another statistic in the growing numbers of suicide cases across the globe taking place due to depression. Make sure your friends and family know that they can confide in you if they ever want to talk. If you happen to be battling with depression, feel free to message me and talk to me. It doesn’t have to be about helping you overcome depression, we can discuss books and TV shows.
Please don’t joke about being depressed or make comments like “You look depressed, what’s up?” if you’re simply talking about mundane things. Sadness and depression aren’t the same things. Try and understand what so many people around you might be going through, depression is a silent spectator in our lives and we might help each other fight it off. Take care of yourselves and the people around you.