DEPRESSION DEMANDS EMPATHY NOT APATHY

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H, wakes up every morning with loss of energy and motivation. He somehow clutches his body together from disintegrating and leaves for office. There he often fails to accomplish his excel-sheets; spread-sheets, hence missing target points. He wears a fictitious smile on his face in front of his colleagues and laugh-out-loud on their lame jokes… yet in the back of his mind he feel more alone than ever and just want to curl up into a fatal position and cry. At lunch, his earlier favourite rasam- idli dish is now tasteless… still he swallows it. He would listen to his friend’s problems with all patients and attention… but he is diffident to tell about the turmoil going inside his own head. Perhaps he is afraid of getting judged of just wanting an attention call. You see, his condition was nothing less than a pile of laundry that no one wants to post in their Instagram pictures.

As clock starts ticking to reach 5 o’clock… he starts feeling a tingling sensation as if a butterfly was trapped inside. The thoughts of being all alone in his house start haunting him. With absolutely no choice left, he reaches his home sinking, fast, falling into a claustrophobic and suffocating reality. The weirdest thing about his mind is that most intense things are going on there but no one else can see them. Maybe if anyone were in his head for 10 minutes they’d know what it is like, “Oh, OK, yes, actually. You should jump. There is no way you should feel this amount of pain. Run and jump and close your eyes and just do it. There is nothing we can do. So jump. Or give me a gun and I’ll shoot you.” It was as if there was a cavity in his soul that was sore and inflamed with sorrow and loneliness. It was as if he had been punched in the chest by an iron-clad fist.

One day he wakes up with migraine headache solicited by gut wrenching loneliness and increasingly intense anxiety and then there is the checking out, the feeling nothing at all, the numbness. In that moment, option of death seemed more logical than any attempt at life. Reason failed in that moment. Depression’s perversion of reality trumped the truth. He musters all courage and walk up to his balcony. After being affirmed and reaffirmed about the never ending despair and misery in his life… he flies to other universe to find his solace.

This story of H, though a fictional character, is significantly relatable to all those people who are undergoing depression and find more peace in the idea of death rather than life.

The most heart-wrenching fact is the negative stereotype gestating like an endemic in our society that having a mental health makes a person weak. Often a person going through mental health issues is considered loon, delusional and toxic. We as a society talk about depression in whispers rather than being considerate about the issue. Depression is treated as a taboo.  Thus, it is important to spread awareness that depression is as general as diabetes, blood-pressure or common-cold.  Depression is not insanity. Depression is debilitating.

In today’s time when we have befriended smart-phone more than our real time relationships… we have lost means of empathetic conversations. It is important to be in constant touch with our closely knitted social circle. For people who do not experience depression but may know someone who does, be a friend to them. Be gentle and patient. They are fighting every day to overcome an invisible barrier. You don’t have to understand what they’re feeling; just that a little compassion can go a long way.  Their mountain may be a molehill to you, but everyone is different and everyone’s feelings are valid.

Also, people who are having dark thoughts need to understand that asking for help does not make them feeble. In fact, it does the opposite. It fortifies you. It demonstrates your willingness to fight for yourself. It makes you the hero of your own story.

One day, I hope we can unite on the idea that depression is not a disgraceful condition. Please do not judge other people’s struggles and do listen to what they have to say. The three mantras… words, comfort and support could have saved H’s life (referring to the aforementioned fiction-story).A hole in his heart yearned for healing and love. We could have saved him. We can save many more like him. Only if we are kind enough…

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Gauri verma

Gauri verma

She is a young Advocate who aspires a position in Indian Judiciary. She has keen interest in study of forensic science and civil liberties. To augment her interest in area of research, she has authored and co-authored numerous papers and presented papers in various seminars and conferences. An inquisitive eclectic, a movie buff and a voracious reader; environmentalism and philanthropy entice her.