In our everlasting, obsessive and sometimes directionless search for happiness we often find ourselves left vulnerable and sad. We keep running behind happiness all through our life and most often end up disappointed when we don’t find it. This leaves us in a state of dejection. As the dejection slowly boils and brews, it finally hits the point of saturation and when it does, you start mulling and feel lost, not loved and lonely. We feel trapped in our own mind, body, and soul, numb for what seems like hours but are actually days. What we had just described above seems like what could possibly be the worst phase of someone’s life, the hardest mental battle someone had to fight; a battle that a 24-year-old lost when he committed suicide while he was live on Facebook days ago. This is the ugly monstrosity that depression is.
Sadness or downswings in mood are normal reactions to life’s struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. Many people use the word “depression” to explain these kinds of feelings, but it is much more than just having a bad day or a bad week.
So… what does being depressed feel like?
Being depressed is like sitting with your friends yet staring into nothing. It is not talking to anyone for days and weeks together; when in reality, all you want is a hug from someone and cry to them. Doubt creeps in and you feel that you are this bitter, annoying, anti-social person. You just don’t want to show your face to anyone and want to snug your face deep into a pillow and cry yourself to sleep. Sleep isn’t just sleep anymore, it’s an escape from reality except even that isn’t in your control anymore. Each time someone asks you how you are, you by reflex tell them that you are fine when a voice inside you actually screams for help. You wake up in the middle of the night sweating profusely having a panic attack for reasons you can’t comprehend.
In his 2013 TED talk Andrew Solomon, a writer who battled depression gives you a glimpse of what being depressed feels like, he says that “The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality. ” Where you lose interest to do simple things like eat, go out, talk to your family. The anxiety gives you a sensation of being afraid all the time without even knowing what it is that you’re afraid of.
It’s ironic how every other organ in your body, except the brain, can be ill or affected and garner sympathy from others but when it comes to anything related to mental health you are tainted, damaged and an outcast. The society’s outlook on depression is backward, immature not to mention inhumane. Patients suffering from depression are often viewed as being clingy, melodramatic and weak. “Iska toh dimaag kharab hai”, “he is just a Drama Queen”, “Such an attention seeker” these are just some of the snide remarks that the society throws at the depressed without sparing a minute to understand the pain that the person goes through. Many believe that suicide is an act of cowardice. But has anyone ever wondered what it takes for a person to be pushed to this extreme? It is the state of mind that leads them to believe that suicide is the only way out, one that we had a role in.
Our outlook on a depressed mind leads them to try and deny the obvious in an attempt to act ‘normal’. What we fail to understand though is that if left untreated, depression can have fatal consequences. The sooner a person realizes it, the better. Do not refrain from seeking help. The power of a simple conversation with your parents, your therapist, your best friend or even your roommate should never be underestimated.
If your friend is struggling with depression, reach out to them and be there. One of the first lies that the brain tells a person when it is depressing is that no one, absolutely no one, cares about you. So be there for them.
Don’t try to trivialize what they’re going through, just listen, without judgment and pure empathy. Sometimes supporting someone with depression may feel like you’re walking a tightrope, so let them steer conversations. You never know what, a minute or two of your time or a simple “how are you?” can help them fight it out for just one more day, one more week and eventually overcome it.
When it comes to the issue at hand I don’t see a better plan of action than putting an end to the ignorance, the intolerance, and the fatal stigma. We need to get rid of the taboo that comes with it and help those depressed souls battle it out.
Image courtesy : World Health Organization