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The Breakthrough Voice 6th March, 2019

Let’s Talk About Depression: A Personal Narrative.

Trigger warning: references to depression, suicide and self-harm.

It was an exciting vacation until I woke up in the ICU in a hospital in Nasik. I was told I met with an almost fatal accident. The driver died on the spot but I did not come to know until a few months had elapsed. I underwent multiple surgeries and my head had to be tonsured. My otherwise clear face bore deep scars and stitch marks. My spleen had to be removed, which resulted in a long scar on my stomach that will neither fade nor vanish. I got the best medical care and I constantly reminded myself that it could have been worse.

For almost six months, I had family, friends and everyone visiting. But as time passed, I felt something was not right with me. I started feeling lonely and disconnected from everyone. I hated the scars and marks and felt dejected. Every time I looked at my tonsured head, my eyes would well up, despite consoling myself for not liking the way I felt and I looked. It took me a great deal of patience to accept what had happened.

But the demons in my head had already started enjoying themselves at my expense. I started getting sleepless nights. I lost interest in everything. All I wanted to do was sit in a dark room. My energy levels depleted at an alarming rate. All I wanted to do was just lie in bed and avoid any kind of contact with the outside world. I would not want to eat anything. My taste buds seemed to have died. No matter what I ate, I would feel as if my taste buds have gone numb. I no longer enjoyed eating.

The more I read about depression, the more I realised that it is treatable and can be cured with timely and effective intervention.

I started getting thoughts of suicide and self-harm. I had a strong urge to jump off from the terrace. My coping mechanism shut down. I stopped relating to anything. The worst part was the absence of feelings. I neither felt happy nor sad. I stopped aspiring.  I stopped learning and growing. Initially, I thought I was being lazy. But things only started getting worse. I knew I had to take help because it was getting pretty bad and living in self-denial mode wasn’t helping me at all. I realised that mental health issues are like any other disease that can be cured with intervention. So one day I took an online test on mental health and even visited a shrink. Both spelt out DEPRESSION.

I couldn’t believe that a livewire like me could be depressed. I started questioning myself. What was I depressed about? What was bothering me and what could I do to help myself? I could not find concrete answers. The shrink put me on medication and it helped me to at least sleep at night. I have always been anti-medicine and paranoid about side effects, so I stopped it mid-way and told myself that I would deal with it myself. I started reading about depression. I started talking about depression and I realised that depression is more common than we think.

According to the World Health Organisation, “Globally, depression is the top cause of illness and disability among young and middle-aged populations. India is home to an estimated 57 million people affected by depression. Interestingly, a higher prevalence of depression among women and working-age adults (20-69 years) have been consistently reported by Indian studies.”

The more I read about depression, the more I realised that it is treatable and can be cured with timely and effective intervention. I was determined to help myself and others, especially women. I had created a Whatsapp group and I named it ‘Let’s Talk’. I had started the group before my accident. I added a few of my friends to the group and encouraged them to talk and share.

India is the country with the most depression cases in the world, according to the World Health Organisation, followed by China and the USA.

Coincidentally, Depression – Let’s Talk was the slogan for World Health Day 2017.  2017 was the darkest year for me as I was trying to get back on my feet after my accident in November 2016. I was determined to at least start talking about depression. I started telling women that talking to each other would be more helpful than talking about each other. I wanted to form a support group and help as many people as I could.

But sadly, most people live in self-denial and some of them would not take depression seriously. It was only when I talked in private to people, I realised that the monster called depression was for real and it could affect a man, woman or a child. India is the country with the most depression cases in the world, according to the World Health Organisation, followed by China and the USA. All the more reason to ACT now!

In my case, writing and talking is helpful. I have my rough days and a part of me is still to come to terms with the post-traumatic stress disorder.  But I want to tell everyone that we need to be heard without judgement or criticism. I always encourage people to talk and open up as I feel that is the first step. We heal the moment we are heard.

Also Read: The Yellow Wallpaper Review: When Medical Science Failed Women

Featured image used for representational purpose only. Image source: Deviant Art

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