Let’s talk about Depression today… I don’t think people understand how stressful it is to explain what’s going on in your head when you don’t even understand it yourself!!!
Yesterday I was reading a blog post by a girl called Apnavi Yadav, a young patient battling acute anxiety and depression. She is brave enough to talk about the most stigmatized mental illnesses our world has today. I was amazed by her strength in coming out in the open and letting the world know that, “Hey, I am here and I am fighting my demons and you know what, I am not giving up?”
People are not equipped to talk about such a prominent issue such as depression. In fact, no one really talks about depression.
Depression is seen as “other” when depression is a universal thing. People who are depressed are deemed as people who should be gloomy, negative, or crazy as hell. No one ever thinks that depressed people are the people right across the street from them. No one ever thinks that depressed people are people too; people who attend work, church, and still laugh with their friends. It’s just that some days are harder than others. But, if you’ve experienced life, you have experienced forms of depression (anxiety, sadness, irritability, and self-isolation). However, you can transform from Negative Nancy to Positive Patty by just putting yourself around positive people, training your mind to think positively, and by seeking help.
Now let’s hear it from Apanvi and it might tear you apart. Learn from this life experience. Remember that being a compassionate listener is much more important than giving advice. You don’t have to try to “fix” the person; you just have to be a good listener. Often, the simple act of talking to someone face to face can be an enormous help to someone suffering from depression. Encourage the depressed person to talk about his or her feelings, and be willing to listen without judgment.
“Will they assume I am a psycho?”
“Will they judge me?” …”What if they start thinking low of me?”
“What if my Boss thinks I am too mentally weak?”….”Will I get fired?”
“Will my family and friends understand?”…”Will they put up with me and accept who I am?”
These are a few of the everyday thoughts that a person who is suffering from Depression or Anxiety (or any other mental illness) has. The morning starts with “Oh god, not again!” Then starts the regular day of a depressed person, who by the way, also suffers from acute anxiety. I am going to put my example here as everyone has a different way of dealing with the ‘condition’, as most of the people would call it. And just for everyone’s information, NO two persons go through the same feeling while being depressed. I realized it after I started my therapy and treatment. I have seen a few people around me who have or had depression. Everyone is different. Some got into drug abuse because they were too arrogant to accept the fact they need help and decided themselves that they can help themselves with drugs. There are people who go into a shell and start getting isolated. And then there are these extroverts like me who have no idea what the hell is going on. Well, thanks to this trait I never shied away from talking about my mental illness which is as bad as a physical one. Just because you cannot see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. But before you jump to the conclusion, let me tell you I also thought of it as a stigma, taboo, and took time to accept it. It was last year, after months of crying for no reason, losing interest in EVERYTHING (including, my favorite thing, reading), losing temper on the smallest things, taking anything and everything ‘personally’, Binge eating, it suddenly dawned on me that there is something wrong. The sadness isn’t subsiding, the temper is always lost, there is a constant irritation. Still in the transition phase of ‘From Denial to Acceptance’. The sudden realization was dismissed for the nth time because I knew I am stronger than that. I am not ‘weak’!
Then started the panic attacks. Where I would go numb, my ears would start buzzing and there would be a couple of seconds’ blackout along with the sudden feeling of cold (also known as cold flashes). It happened once, then the next time it happened was at the metro station. I was talking to my Mum on the phone, was on the escalator when it happened. The phone slid from my head and I felt I am going to pass out. Since most of us belong to the self-proclaimed Medical Fraternity, I again dismissed it as ‘low blood pressure’. I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I was a bit embarrassed, ashamed about it. Then I fought myself thinking low of myself. There was this constant battle. I knew I can’t talk about it to anyone. I was so scared what if my friends start behaving differently, what if my partner (who btw, is the biggest support I could ever pray for) thinks I am an emotional wreck? My Mum has enough stress, I don’t want to add to it. Again, thought dismissed. It took me five panic attacks, a zillion sleepless nights because of backache, to finally ACCEPT there was something terribly wrong with me. I fixed an appointment with a psychiatrist and started the therapy. Again, the STIGMA. How do I break this news to my family or my partner or my friends? So I took it to step by step. First I told the person who I trusted the most, my partner. He listened, understood, and told me ‘we’ will get through this and that you are not alone. I was relieved, I was thanking God for he didn’t think of me as a recluse.
It took me months to openly talk about it with family and friends and once I started I didn’t understand why did I hold it all inside me. I am still in recovery, still under treatment, still have low days where I just cry, but I am trying and not hiding it. Just let people know you are going through a bad time, share it with the person you trust, seek help. There is no shame in that. Identify the problem, accept it, and look for the solution. Its easier said than done, but you need to take that first baby step towards recovery. I know it’s very very difficult but you have to do it because you owe yourself an awesome life. And that alone should drive everyone for a better life. Rip this thought off that its a bad thing. It is not. And punch those in the nose who tells you to ‘get over it’!
Read more of Apanvi’s work here and go and give her some love.