Mental health in India is still ridiculously a taboo.There seems to be this stigma around depression that needs to be cleared up. Here are a few misconceptions that you might have about #DEPRESSION.
Depression is not a Mood, it is a Disease
A lot of people think that depression is a phase that would pass without tending to it properly. Good Morning, to ones, still sleeping! I have some news for you! Depression is not a phase. It is not a stage or a form of mood that one can easily get rid of. In spite of the fact that so many people have ranted about it, and spoken about it, there is no awareness. Depression is a clinical disease. It is very much a biological condition, when your brain, plays nasty tricks with you, by releasing depressive hormones, the endocrine system. Yes, the tenth class biology textbook had a lot more than how babies are made. Mostly, depression is seen having occurred due to imbalance or say irregularity, in secretion by the thyroid gland, in response to changing physical conditions around. Hormones such as Cortisol, Norepinephrine, and Endorphins etc also factor.
Expensive Clothes, Gifts, Jewelry, Accessories do not make them Happy. Material reality does not have a significant relationship with your Depression
Your depression is not affected by the material reality around you. When you will say that you think you have depression or are suffering from it, in an Indian household, they will be like, “See! You have a shelter over your head. You have an AC in your room. You have food to eat! We are doing what we can do, and spending on you more than what we can afford. Why are you in Depression?” I am sorry, but whether you got an AC or not is the least possible contributor to your depression. Depression is caused by more abstract things like pressure, expectations, insensitivity, anxiety, and fear. Someone else’s problem can also land you in depression. Yes, it is possible. You really do not need a very big reason that materializes, to cause depression.
I don’t feel happy anymore-and this is how it starts piling up
While there is no specific set of symptoms for clinical depression, as the lines are always blurred, but the basic mostly remains the basic. That is your sleep pattern changes, either decreases or increases with noticeable durations. You suddenly lose interest in all the things that once made you happy. While even if they continue to provide a slight relief from monotony, say going out with friends, writing, watching a flick, you will find it difficult to process what is happening. If you are happy, and you can be biologically happy, with the release of ‘Serotonin’, also called as ‘feel-good’ hormone, you would find it difficult to consciously realize the fact, and enjoy the feeling. Rather, most of the times it happens, that depression makes us question balance, satisfaction and happiness. One moment, you’d feel happy, say when you are with your friends, and just the other moment, you would feel so low, as if the world has collapsed, for no good reason. Anxiety makes a hostage out of you. You start doubting your worth, your abilities. These are only some of the million things that happen to a clinically depressed person.
Why am I alive- is the kind of feeling that surrounds you always
I have observed, that in our manifestation of humanity, whether it is a result of trying to ape things or constructing them on our own, we have encouraged the presence of this culture of perfection as if a survival necessity as if that not being perfect will land you in unavoidable situations. Humans cannot be perfect.This, rather than leading people towards perfection, has led them more towards the pressure of it, with never actually realizing it, in the truest sense of the word. Amongst Youngsters, there is a pressure that is persistent, to look good. Especially after the advent of social media, getting likes and reactions on updates is a survival instinct. Come out, and there’s a pressure to study hard, to score the perfect, to get the best college etcetera and the list goes on. Then, to act according to the identity society has prescribed you. “Those born with a penis, can’t cry, can’t vocalise that they feel pain, have to excel in sports, have to talk badly of woman, have to become engineers and doctors, have to get laid, have to like girls, get married to a girl at the right age, produce children, and then look after them. Those born with a vagina, can cry but shall not be strong, have to learn to cook by the age of 12, are a liability so better to get rid of them as soon as possible and hence married soon, ( yes! It still happens ), can’t possibly be attracted to the same sex, can’t possibly think of work and expect equality and respect from the society.”
Then, of course, there is a pressure that religion puts you into. Faith is a subjective matter and all that religion has achieved so far is institutionalizing it. Somewhere inside, your parents know that it is wrong to abandon you for being homosexual, or it is wrong to abandon you for choosing to marry outside of your caste or religion or choosing to live alone, but the pressure that society, a religion-oriented society puts on them, stops them from doing what they should actually be doing. It is a culmination of all these and different kinds of pressures, extending beyond some that I have listed above, and seeing no way out from that, that triggers suicide.
It’s just not in your control
Stop putting pressure on people to be a certain way that suits or does not defy your perception of them, for one. Just let them decide. Secondly, talk. Talk as much as you can. India has the highest rates of depression, and yet for every 1000 depressed patients out there, there are only three professional counselors available. Consequently, the affordability factor comes into play. Not everyone can afford to take professional help. So talk. Ask your friends, randomly, every twenty days, if they are real, like actually fine or not. Tell them randomly, every twenty days too, that they can always reach out to you. And not just your friends, your parents too.
So what should we do to help them?
Our culture has forced us to put our folks on this pedestal, where we somewhere dehumanize them and can’t accept that they have their battles and struggles too. Years into depression, extreme stages even, and they might not even know. So converse with them. Talk to them. Go out with them for a lunch on a random day and tell them they can always talk to you. Tell them you understand. This might also help them realize the facade of the society they live in. Lastly, if a dear one shows a suicidal tendency, please! For whosoever, you believe in’s sake, don’t say this line, “ What will happen to your friends and your family if you die?” I am sorry to break the glass, but pressure from friends and family is precisely what that might have triggered the need for it. Indians have failed to recognize the concept of privacy and personal space that is intrinsic to one’s existence. I am not asking you to stop doing things for your family, but stop rationalizing or objectifying your love for them. Your happiness matters too, and at times, it matters more than anyone else’s.
So start living for yourself as well, and that is not being selfish. You are being selfish and sadistic when you derive pleasure out of someone’s suffering. Having said that, at times, doing what you think is best for you, might actually hurt other people, like choosing a career on your own, or choosing your partner on your own, or opting out of a relationship that you don’t feel you belong to.
#Staytuned for more stuff from Aman Sinha!