“But remember, you are not alone,” says Harika Bantupalli to all those who are fighting depression. After finding out that what she is going through is depression, Harika set out on the journey of facing the world where most discussions around mental health are considered taboo. This is her story.
A couple weeks ago, I went to see a shrink on the insistence of my friend, who happens to be a doctor.
“I don’t mean to imply otherwise, but please seek professional help” she said, “the symptoms are crystal clear.” She was subtle in putting across her message because talking about mental illness is no less than a taboo in our society. It might even be offensive if someone takes it in the wrong way.
I’m never the kind to turn my back on things that are considered stigmatic in our society. However, when things were not going well in my life, I attributed them to stress and my inability to manage things well.
That’s what people would tell you too. You cannot dare think that you have a mental illness in a society like ours. So I brushed those thoughts away, telling myself that I am stronger than those blues of life – even when hours of research on the internet tried to warn me of something grave. But I was wrong. The feeling of emptiness and worthlessness continued. Suicidal thoughts took over my mind and there was always a chaos in my head. So I chose to take advice of my doctor friend, and consult a psychiatrist.
“It’s so obvious, you are depressed!” the doc confirmed what I dreaded most. “And I reckon you know what the root cause is!” she added, after what seemed like a 30-minute talk. Walking out of the hospital, I had answers to all those questions that had been disturbing me for years. But I had a bigger challenge – facing the world as a patient of depression. It was not easy at all.
There are three stages you will have to cross when the demon of depression possesses you – understanding what you are going through, seeking professional help and dealing with it. These stages are tough to get through, with each one worse and more challenging than the one you experienced before.
People have their episodes of depression and the days when they feel blue. But there’s a thin line between the two, which you have to understand. The feelings associated with depression can be those of sadness, worthlessness, guilt, anger and even emptiness. You even start thinking of harming yourself or putting an end to your life on a regular basis.
I was fortunate enough to have someone who pointed out the symptoms in me and insisted on seeing a doctor. I would have still been rotting in my own hell-hole if it weren’t for her. But it might not be the case with everyone. So when you feel the need of professional help or expert advice, don’t hesitate, just go. We all have our problems and flaws; accepting them is the sign of a brave soul.
My parents couldn’t accept the idea of me dealing with depression, given that I am in a good job with a handsome pay for a 22-year-old. But there’s more to this psychological condition than a successful personal or professional life, and they failed to understand it the beginning.
It was just the start of the questions that kept swarming around me and hands pointing towards me – accusing me of being a coward who puts a tag called depression on meagre problems and so on. I couldn’t answer everyone, but I managed to talk to my parents and gather little support from them. There were also a few friends who decided to stick with me during this phase, but I am not sure about how long they will stay.
More than anything, it was the talk with the psychiatrist and the counselling sessions that helped me a lot. It lightens the burden and eases your pain when you share your deepest troubles with someone who can understand, empathise and help you get through it.
Anything can trigger depression – a broken heart, an ailment, or just about anything. For me, it happened when I was first molested as a teenager, which resulted in the beginning of inexplicable sadness and anger issues. And then there were financial issues, studies, heartbreak, a forced sexual assault, and being jilted away from someone I looked up to the most. One after the other, these things took a toll on me, until my emotions began to disorient and void filled my life.
But remember, you are not alone. You always have the strength to fight what you have, and it is okay to let go and give in sometimes. When you’re beginning to hate the things you love, when you don’t find interest in anything and when you live with an erupting volcano inside you, don’t be afraid to seek help. It’s going to be a long, tough and tiring journey, but it will only make you better.
Surviving depression is hard, but not impossible. It isn’t just the normal blues of your life. It’s much more than a simple consequence of stress or inability to handle things. It is a grave psychological condition that needs to be worked upon – but all this doesn’t mean that you cannot survive it. You will have critics and supporters through the journey of treatment, but ultimately, it’s your battle, and you can win it. Just hang in there and remember, you are not alone!
– Harika Bantupalli