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“Shaheen Bhatt’s writing on depression touches your soul and lets you peek into hers,” says this reviewer about her book I’ve Never Been (Un)Happier. A must read for everyone.
I’ve just finished reading Shaheen Bhatt’s novella on depression, I’ve Never Been (Un)Happier, and I want to go find her and give her a big bear hug. I’m on the verge of crying, but instead, I’m sitting down to capture my thoughts in words.
Shaheen says that she has been suffering from depression for 17 years. In the initial years, she did not realize that the ‘Feeling’, as she calls it, had a name: depression. But after a thankfully unsuccessful suicide attempt, she sought help and her psychiatrists gave a name to her condition, along with some tools on how to cope with it.
Intrinsically, she is aware of how privileged she is. She has the family support, the money to get good treatment, and not get out of bed if she doesn’t feel like it. But the ‘Feeling’ or depression, she says is a thief, which tints everything in her life with shades of grey. It was only after more than a decade that she demanded something back from depression. After a talk with her famous father, Mahesh Bhatt, she tried to squeeze lessons or insights from every attack of depression so that it gave at least a little while taking so much.
She quotes Chuck Palahniuk from Fight Club, Sylvia Plath, and David Foster Wallace from Infinite Jest to explain depression and its effect on people who are in its grip. And yet in school, she had to deal with the label that she was ‘stupid’. She leaves us wondering if extremely self-aware people are more prone to depression, a sort of punishment for living life so intensely.
Although her inner life was rich, she shared precious little of it with her parents in the beginning. She outlines in painful detail all her depressing thoughts over the years backed up by her diary entries that she reveals to us at the beginning of the book. With painful honesty, she describes how it felt to be born into a family where everyone was ‘famous’ or ‘beautiful’ and how left out it made her feel.
She assures the reader that her entire life has not been a series of lows, that there have been good times, some great times, but that depression takes away the gift of happy hindsight. It only allows you to remember the worst times of your life.
Her writing touches your soul and lets you peek into hers. And you pray that she sees the sunshine and tides over the rainy days because she has let you into her life and made you her friend.
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