The World Health Organisation defines depression as “common illness characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that one normally enjoys, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities”.
Sure, it all makes sense to me now that I am about to turn 25 but back when I was in class five and was diagnosed with depression at such a young age, I had no idea what was happening to me.View this post on InstagramA post shared by (@jipandeyji)A Small Family Background
Let me take you back nearly a decade and a half ago.
I belong to a middle class family and have grown up in a house with three generations of people staying together since forever. I am a single child with no siblings and used to live in a three bedroom house with my grandparents, my parents, and an uncle and aunt back then.View this post on InstagramA post shared by (@jipandeyji)
Financially, we have never been the wealthiest and didn’t believe in spending extravagantly, but it wasn’t as if we were struggling to put food on the table.
However, going out for picnics with friends, spending money on buying Beyblades and Pokeman action figures wasn’t something I had the luxury of and I was completely fine with it, I guess I believed that that is how I was supposed to live my life.
Being the youngest member of my family, I was told to not speak when the elders were talking, not to correct them even when I knew they were wrong and just accept whatever an “adult” told me to do.View this post on InstagramA post shared by (@jipandeyji)
This is probably why I was one of the favourite students in school (which isn’t bragging because now I feel even my school had some unfortunate rules that I agreed to blindly while I should have said something).
© Aditya PandeyGround Zero (I Guess..?)
So, one fine day I was sitting in my maternal cousin’s car who belonged to a relatively wealthier family and he had turned on the heater because he was feeling a bit of a chill. I, on the other hand, started feeling suffocated and breathless but didn’t say anything because I have always been the little baby brother to him (and also because I was trained to not say anything to my elders).
I simply asked my brother to drop me at my father’s office but by the time we reached, I had started crying uncontrollably. My brother thought that it might be because I wasn’t feeling well but I knew that that wasn’t the reason.
© Aditya Pandey
I didn’t know what the reason was.
That was the first incident I remember clearly and I knew that something was wrong but I couldn’t figure it out.Things Got Worse
From that point on, I’d simply get extremely sad for some reason and start crying out of the blue. I wasn’t sure why I was sad, nor did my parents understand what was bothering me. Their only advice was for me to go out and play cricket with my friends.
And don’t get me wrong, their advice worked most of the time. Whenever I was out, keeping my mind busy with all the games and sports, I was completely fine. It was only when I was back home, that all the sadness would come back looking for me and I’d start crying again.
My mother, who follows Buddhism, asked me to chant with her for my peace of mind and I did but I’d start crying in the middle of the chanting. I’d begun to lose interest in all the cartoons that I remember I loved watching every evening. Eventually I’d stopped going out to play as well and the sadness and the crying was all that I did all the time.
Did I think I was going crazy? Definitely.Seeking Help View this post on InstagramA post shared by (@jipandeyji)
When the crying became too much and my father realised that it wasn’t just one of those things kids in their “growing age” experience, he knew what needed to be done and I am thankful to him to this day that he acted upon it.
He took me to one of the leading hospitals in Gurgaon and made me talk to a “very nice uncle”. Now, in my head, I was ready to run away from the hospital if the “nice uncle” pulled out a big injection on me (I had seen my share of psychological thrillers by the time).
But none of that happened. It felt like just another visit to the doctor. He sat on one side of his massive desk, my father and I sat on the other and we simply had a conversation.
He asked me to explain whatever I was going through in detail and I’d already started crying even before I’d opened my mouth but he let me cry and tell my story.
Unfortunately, I don’t quite remember all the details of the conversation but the thing I do remember is that one “exercise” he’d asked me to do whenever I felt sad and started crying.
He asked me to “close my eyes, and think as if I was pulling every negative thought out of my head”. He even told me how to do it, as he demonstrated it with his hands.
He told me to do it every single time I’d feel like crying, no matter how many times it was during the day. Years after that session, my father told me that the nice uncle was actually a psychologist and that I was diagnosed with depression back then.
Maybe it was my trust in the therapist or my father but the exercise did wonders for me, it really helped!
I am not saying that if you too have been diagnosed with depression, you should start doing the exercise. Every person is different, every mind is unique and the best way to get better is to get therapy and put faith in your therapist.
Mental health, dealing with mental illness and overcoming such disorders are important. It is not as if the people before us didn’t face such issues, they simply failed to acknowledge it and either continued to live with it or decided to end everything in an unfortunate moment.
We have the resources now, society has become more accepting. You are not judged for telling your story, you do not have to live in sadness for the rest of your life. There is a better way to live, a better way to spend your days rather than in misery and agony.