Have you ever wondered how will be the life of a person who thinks of taking their life every single day?
Have you ever thought how does it feel like living in darkness even if someone is standing under full sunlight?
Have you ever pondered over a person who is surrounded by so many friends yet so lonely?
Yes, these are some of the thoughts that goes inside the mind of a person who is suffering from depression. Unlike other health issues, it is not easily visible outside. Absolutely anyone can fall prey to this. What’s most scary is that our society actually fuels it because of its ignorance and callousness.
Let me share three incidents from my own experiences. The first one and most devastating one happened sometime mid last year. The apartment complex that I live, is also a residence of a lot of scholars and high achievers. Among them were Dr. Amil Dubey (name changed for privacy reasons). Dr. Dubey was a renowned Plastic Surgeon in the city, who had treated so many celebrities that he was called the Celebrity Plastic Surgeon. He headed the plastic surgery department in one of the best hospitals in the city. He was the godfather of plastic surgery domain. Phenomenally successful doctor, married to another successful doctor and blessed with two beautiful children. From outside, everything looked absolutely perfect.
One fine afternoon, suddenly we heard a ‘THUDD’ sound and looked down from our balcony… and saw Dr Dubey lying down lifelessly. It was my father-in-law (another doctor) who pronounced him dead. Dr. Dubey had jumped down from one of the high storied buildings of our complex. We were totally bewildered, what led him to do this? After all, he had a perfect life, financially, professionally, personally; everything was absolutely perfect… then why?
This incident made me see myself in the mirror! I had been a victim of depression a few years back and used to have suicidal thoughts every single day. I would carry a bunch of sleeping pills in my purse, thinking, what if I felt like taking my life away any moment? I was living on the edge of life and death! If you ask me today, what made me depressed? I would not be able to answer you. Because, practically there was no reason. But I was feeling as if there was nothing in my life. The empty feeling, the sadness, the darkness, the loneliness, became my everyday feelings. As if there were multiple wars going on inside my head and I was tired fighting it out. I was at the lowest of my self-confidence, I saw myself as the worst failure. I saw myself as a worthless person, who had no value. I felt no one cared for me, no one loved me. Everyone around me was selfish, they just wanted to use me. I almost ruined my life in those few months.
Fortunately, my mental strength pulled me out of this quicksand, along with professional help. I was aware of my condition and acknowledged it wholeheartedly. Which in turn, helped me reach out for professional help. Luckily for me, my life partner was completely supportive. He not only understood my condition but also helped me through the entire journey of recovery. Hence, I came out of it real quick. It’s entirely because of him, Today, I can fearlessly say, I am a depression survivor. However, when I was deep into it, it was extremely difficult for me to accept this, especially because of the social stigma attached to it.
Almost always, it is absolutely essential to have a supportive partner or at least one family member. I shudder in horror to think if one does not have a supportive partner or at least a family member, then where do they go? What do they do?
Sadly, something similar happened to a cousin of mine. A confident, educated, and liberal girl was married to a boy who had very different upbringing than hers. Both their ethics, morals, and beliefs didn’t match a bit, they were poles apart. Not that it was a complete arranged marriage, though the alliance came as arranged, the girl fell in love with the charm of the boy. However, before marriage they hardly met, it was a long-distance relationship. Although they kept video chatting or talking over the phone, meeting chances were limited.
Almost instantly after the marriage, the girl realized that she landed up in a mess. She was getting tortured mentally. Strangely, her in-laws and husband took pleasure in demeaning her. They were enjoying crushing her self-confidence under their feet. Luckily, the boy got a job abroad, and they moved to a new country, to a new home. Did anything change for her? No, not really. The boy continued his antics, constantly gaslighting her, making her feel guilty for the sins that she did not commit. He manipulated her so much that she started believing, she was the root cause of all problems. The confident girl went into deep depression, went into a state where she had to get drunk every night to fall asleep. He would provoke her and she would abuse him endlessly, crying profusely for no reason, and yell at him. She practically became totally vulnerable. This went on for almost two years before she called it quits and let us know about the situation. When we met her, her condition was really bad.
Because of a supportive family, we could bring her back to normalcy. It’s wasn’t easy at all. The condition was so strong and deep rooted that, it took a lot of time, professional help, frequent interventions, unconditional support of family members and a non-judgmental mindset to bring her back to normalcy.
After my own incident and from the experience of others I have realized a few things…
Most often the patient has no clue what is happening to them, it slowly engulfs them and they don’t even realize it. Just because they do not realize, they live in denial. They think it can’t happen to them. Even the family lives in denial, instead of attending to their needs.
Hence, it is very important to be aware of our surrounding. It is important to be able to take the subtle cues and be compassionate about someone who is feeling troubled. It is important to lend a listening ear, and be attentive while listening to them. it is important to be patient with them. It is important to handle them with care and love. It is important to take professional help whenever and wherever needed. There is no shame in seeking professional help when in need.
Sometimes I think, if only we understood Dr. Dubey’s condition in time, we could’ve saved his life. If only we were a little more attentive towards him, we could’ve made sure the world didn’t lose such a great doctor!
Srijata Bhatnagar is an entrepreneur from Bangalore. She has founded two businesses so far. In her current role, as the Founder CEO of Ridhani – a bespoke work wear brand for women, she leads the marketing, sales, growth and strategy areas of the business. Ridhani helps women find their true Fashion Code and help them bring out their original personality through custom-made work clothing.
She is a Speaker and has been a Judge for Fashion Shows. She has been featured in various medias, have written articles in various newspapers and startup media companies including The Hindu, Deccan Herald, YourStory etc. She has been quoted in various magazines. She has spoken in colleges, business summits and seminars. She mentors other budding entrepreneurs in strategizing their business. She is also an author of an upcoming book, which is yet to be titled.
She loves interacting with people and nurturing entrepreneurial zeal in young minds. She believes in the power of idea. She believes if an idea has a strong backing of a story and pain point, it could turn out to be a path breaking idea.
When not working, she can be found traveling, interacting with strangers to build life long meaningful relationships or relaxing at home with her human and dog daughters.