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With the pandemic exacerbating depression in almost all, let's no more make it a taboo. Let's look at how we can tackle this parallel pandemic.
With the pandemic exacerbating depression in almost all, let’s no more make it a taboo. Let’s look at how we can tackle this parallel pandemic.
After quite a long discussion with few people on the tragic headline of Bollywood last month, I realize there is no point in judging or blaming the youth for committing suicide. Once a person is gone, discussing the issues and causes that could have bothered him is of no use. Exploring reasons and possibilities is all in vain. But ironically, doing the same as long as the person is alive could be useful and prevent such a scenario.
Moreover, it is all a hype in India that dies as fast as it rises. This too will stay in the news for sometime and then be wiped off. People will return to gossip and monotony but what won’t return is the lost soul. Many lost souls, mostly unnamed.
Today suddenly mental illness is a big issue because a Bollywood star is a victim. Everyone around is saying he was too young and had a promising career. There are so many suicide cases reported in the youth and specifically so many in the past few days of lockdown. They all were too young to leave and maybe had promising careers in different fields. That is the bitter truth.
Depression or rather any form of mental illness does not depend on age, social status, gender or religion. It is pretty much like any other physical illness but even scarier because of its variety of reasons and symptoms. It can be rooted in a person’s life in ways deeper than you can think and beyond what you can imagine. There is no hard and fast rule to problems in one’s life – each one is different. There are sources apart from the most common ones you can think of involving career, love, relationships, addiction, academic, pressure, finances and so on.
Despite having everything a normal man can crave for, depression brings down a young lad. Why? How could have depression got him? What will come to light are possible theories but his true story will remain untold just like many others. Here is the biggest fallacy. Here comes the need to speak up and seek help.
It is strange how untold stories are celebrated and filmed when they lead to glory and success and conveniently avoided when they lead to failure and dejection, whereas it ideally should always be the other way round so that lessons can be derived from the latter.
It is high time we start listening to each other’s problems, not necessarily we shall be able to solve. At times, we do not pay heed to minor problems bothering us, failing to realize its potentiality. Sometimes, the brightest smiles hide the gravest sorrows. Next time you see someone laughing, don’t assume he is the happiest being alive.
We all experience this – fake smiles, pretence of strength and happiness shields us from the world but not inner self. If Chandler resorts to humor and sarcasm as his defense mechanism, we all have resorted to our own means. The same ignorance over and over again may result in a point where mental sanity and stability become long lost words. Hence, talking about smallest of problems is the first step towards facing it.
So, what is stopping you? Oh of course – the fact that sharing about mental trauma, anxiety, frustration, depression is still considered a taboo in India. It’s all the same – ‘mental’, ‘madness’, ‘craziness’! People make fun of you and you become a laughing stock. And after you’re gone, they’ll say “How foolish of a guy to commit suicide at this age. I know it’s crazy.” It’s funny how can both the cause and outcome be crazy? Both your life and death was crazy?
To people calling suicide an act of cowardice – Imagine the amount of mental strength required to physically hurt yourself to such an extent that you stop breathing. Imagine the multiple thoughts of your loved ones crossing your minds before or during the act every time causing hesitation, reconsideration and may be few failed attempts. Imagine the thought of not being on the Earth after few minutes, going away from everything you’ve given your life to, and becoming a memory. People say he did not think about his family and fled – you really think he did not think it through? You really think he did not care? Despite all this, he chose to die. Why? Imagine the excruciating pain he is going through, and wanting to end or at least hoping to end it, resorting to ending his life. Can you judge this as right or wrong?
In order that one does not have to look at such an extreme step, please do not hesitate to reach out for assistance. The right kind of help. It can be any close trusted friend or relative to begin with and then as needed and suggested, medical guidance. Face your inhibitions, share them and get rid of them. There might be people who will randomly blame your lifestyle and choices for your depression while the actual reasons can be far more deep-rooted. Now is when you know you need to visit a professional practitioner.
The young generation has begun being vocal about a lot of their preferences and this too does not call for any shame or disgrace. Often celebrities and other people from higher social strata feel afraid of calling out thinking it would hamper their societal status. With changes on the rise, it is high time we start treating mental illness as seriously as physical illness, being open about and talking about the same in public forum as something normal and that can happen to anyone. Separating them from the society today means separating them from the world tomorrow. Together, lets lead and promote this wave of change – people suffering as well as people supporting.
I am not trying to justify or support an act of suicide at all. Giving up without fighting a battle is worse than actually losing it – sounds cliche. But no one gives up without a reason, especially on life.
Maybe after this painful incident, people have started acknowledging that we need to support each other during such times of crises. Or at least I would like to believe so.
Lending a ear has the power to heal and even save lives. In this age of globalization, there are lot of young students and professionals going away from their hometowns to distant places in pursuit of their dreams, careers and passion. They stay alone and away from their families and tend to fall prey to loneliness and depression thereby easily.
The world is already battling a deadly disease that is continuing to claim so many lives. We are living with it – a world with restrictions, changed norms, and perhaps changed lifestyles. It is natural for people to find it hard adapting to abrupt big changes. Everyone especially the youth are leading badly disrupted social lives and patterns. Everyone needs help. Some find it within, some look outside. Let’s not stigmatize; let’s accept and understand each other by talking it out. Social responsibility is not just for corporate houses and celebrities but for all humans – are you ready for hearing stories or attending funerals? Choice is yours.
First published here.
If you or anyone you know is feeling depressed or suicidal, here are some of the helplines available in India. Please call.
Aasra, Mumbai: 022-27546669
Sneha, Chennai: 044-2464 0050
Lifeline, Kolkata: 033-2474 4704
Sahai, Bangalore: 080–25497777
Roshni, Hyderabad: 040-66202000, 040-66202001
Image source: a still from the film Kai Po Che
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Mostly Normal is a book of innocence, longing, filial love, angst and acceptance, encapsulating a gamut of human emotions within its lightweight edifice. The book touches the human heart and will stay with you.
Some books enthral you till the last page, and then there are those that you stop reading after turning a few pages. Some books are a one-time read, while you carry some books with you long after you have read them. Then, once in a while, a book hits you so close to home that you find it difficult to slot into any category.
I will put Priyadeep Kaur’s Mostly Normal (BookSoul Reads, 2022) in this last bracket.
At a little less than hundred pages, Mostly Normal is a testimony of the power of words to inspire, irrespective of their length.
Most women do not get to live their lives the way they want, on their own terms. So why should they be tied down in their old age?
Every morning, while dropping the kids at the bus stop, I find a grandfather waiting with his granddaughter. I see him again when I fetch the kids. This has been the pattern for the last few years.
He is seen actively participating in his granddaughter’s activities, from morning and evening walks to attending her parent-teachers meeting, sending her for extracurricular activities to even planning her birthday party. He is admired by all. He is appreciated for making himself useful in his old age. People rave that the doting grandfather is doing his duty towards his children and grandchildren. The much-admired grandfather is also a widower, having lost his wife years ago to chronic disease. It’s also to be noted that both his son and daughter-in-law are working parents.
Every day, the onlookers appreciate his sense of duty and dedication. They say that this is how the elderly should keep themselves occupied. They should bring up their grandchildren while their children go off to work.
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