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Coping with the blues

A few days ago, the world-renowned designer Kate Spade took her own life by hanging herself with a scarf in a posh New York apartment. She had started working from scratch, from her one-bedroom studio, and built a highly successful brand. She seemed to have a full life as a happily married mother of a 13-year-old daughter. The world knew so much about Kate Spade, the brand, its valuation, its products, but not about Kate Spade herself. The hugely successful and beautiful designer was suffering from depression.

Who knew that the renowned and well-loved actor and comedian, Robin Williams, would cut short his life and career by hanging himself to death? Why did the promising Indian actor Divya Bharti kill herself by falling off a building? We will never know why Nafisa Joseph hung herself from a ceiling fan. These are grim reminders that money, fame and power cannot buy happiness, and that depression will not discriminate. There are also innumerable suicides that do not make it to the headlines. If they are reported at all, news of an alleged suicide is written in newspapers in a language that is more factual, less emotive - mostly about a student not being able to cope with career pressures, a farmer succumbing to his debts, a jilted lover yielding to heartbreak.

Irrespective of gender, race, colour and status in society, the monster of depression can afflict and render one a failure in one’s own eyes. It will convince you that you are not good enough for the world. It will tell you you are trapped and are incapable of rising above your circumstances. It will snatch every sliver of hope from your heart and fill it with dark clouds of wretchedness and despair. It will tell you that you don’t

deserve the gift of life. It will reduce you to a pygmy in your own eyes, because it has inveigled you to believe that people are judging you. Nobody realises the battle you were valiantly fighting within yourself, till you one day become a martyr. However, the world sees you not as the martyr you were striving to be, but as a coward, who “just could not deal with life”. First, people should stop using the word ‘depression’ carelessly. A break- up, a hard day at work, a rejected article and a tiff with a partner should not be cause for a bout of ‘depression’. Depression is an illness, which requires medical attention. The term should not be nonchalantly tossed around in casual conversation, and a patient should not be simply told to ‘just get over it’. When one cannot ‘simply get over’ illnesses such as cancer or a particular heart condition without appropriate medical intervention, how can one get cured of depression without proper medical aid? The importance of removing stigma attached to mental health cannot be emphasised enough. We lead complex lives, in which we want to attain it all. We want a lucrative career, happy relationships and a comfortable lifestyle. However, in order to attain and sustain these, we end up unknowingly losing ourselves. Before medical attention can be administered, it is essential to be able to talk about what ails our hearts and minds. We ignore underlying symptoms such as frequent headaches, irrational and frequent mood swings, sudden loss of sleep or too much sleep, loss of vigour for routine activities, prolonged phases of shrinking into our shells… We tend to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, knowing little that we are only feeding the monster. It continues to thrive every day, till it ultimately engulfs us. Life is definitely not a bed of roses. We are all fighting battles, which nobody else really knows of. However, we can make it a tad easier for each other by giving the gift of acceptance and validation. Is it really so bad if a student is unable to attain the coveted seat at a medical or engineering institution? He might make for a great architect someday. Does the loss of land really have to mean loss of life? Your precious skills could have been used elsewhere. Is taking the noose an antidote for a

broken heart and misplaced trust? Life has infinite possibilities, wait for it. These life circumstances were triggers, but taking one’s life was depression.

Robin Williams didn’t think he was succeeding in life, although for the rest of the world he was the greatest American comedian and actor. Kate Spade was an inspiration to designers all over the globe. However, she wasn’t good enough in her own eyes.

For loved ones, recognise it; ‘depression’ is not fodder for humour. It’s a disease afflicting the mind, and one that could render one hollow. Stigma, disdain, and turning a blind eye will not help. Even vacant pep talk won’t.

seeratsandhu25@yahoo.com


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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 2:46:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/coping-with-the-blues/article24123789.ece

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