Depression vs Me

The definition of mental well-being is subjective, and as we delve deeper, we realise that our understanding and knowledge about this topic is just the tip of an iceberg.

Hello, I am Debashmita Sarkar, a 22-year-old and this is my story about one of my fiercest battles with depression.

Around the end of February’2020, I began to have a series of mental breakdowns, which were persistent till middle-March. I woke up every night around 1 AM, rushed to my bathroom and cried hysterically. It started as a once-a-day occurrence, but gradually, this began to happen twice or sometimes even thrice a day. It felt like I was living at the edge just at the brink of breaking down and crying at the most mundane things. Being at loss of understanding what exactly was happening, a part of me just wanted this to end as the excruciating pain felt unbearable.

I can still feel the chills down my nerves as I tell that ending my life seemed a much better option back then rather than undergoing this pain. I remember that one of those days, I didn’t get up from my bed the entire day. I felt no sense of purpose, value or meaning in my life. Without any motivation to get up, I just stayed in bed for one whole day. I felt a sense of ‘nothingness’ which is impossible to put into words. All I felt was emptiness and numbness – a state of not being. I couldn’t even feel any sensation of hunger or thirst. The walls of my room also seemed to close in on me slowly. I was eloped by hopelessness and despair.

Taking you all a few years behind, if I talk about my childhood, I never really had many friends growing up. Maybe this was because I grew up in an unrestful environment with domestic violence and hate. Don’t take me wrong, I have two wonderful parents who love me, support me and care for me with all their being. I am attached to both of them. But, one thing I realised very early on in my life is that sometimes even two good humans coming together cannot ensure a happy marriage. I remember that I was in grade 1 when I realised that my parents didn’t share a cordial relationship like other parents. Their regular fights, late-night arguments, and hate was too much for a ten -year old me. And, to protect myself from feelings of restlessness and fear, I began to gradually alienate from my parents. I stopped sharing with them how I felt and began to silently pray to leave this all behind. It all seemed like a nightmare that just didn’t end no matter how many times I tried to pinch-wake myself.

It was around this time that I turned to education and grades for comfort and a sense of validation as a means to compensate for feelings of discomfort and uncertainty at home. I focused all of my energy on getting good grades. To me, good grades ensured a good job which further meant that I could just leave all this behind and move on in my life, both physically and mentally. In a rampant race for numbers and grades, I didn’t give myself any time or allowance to pause and feel any emotions. I began to see emotions as a sign of weakness and failure. To this point, I wasn’t willing to appear weak even for a moment and so, I refused to feel anything. Only my grades and performance at school had that kind of power over me to impact my mood and behaviour. Nothing else.

As I entered college, shutting down my emotions became easier for me. I kept myself occupied in classes, tuitions, and teaching students. The mental breakdowns happened less frequently now. It was all seeming to be good until 2020 happened.

It’s said that in life, we can run from everything, but not from ourselves. This lockdown has been a perfect example for that. Being stuck at home, with umpteen time to focus my thoughts on myself, I was compelled to shift the focus inward. All the suppressed demons and insecurities resurfaced and erupted like a lava. As shattered I was, there was a small, yet a firm corner of my heart that wanted to live. A part that wanted to surf through this high tide and also wanted to know why it happened with me time and again. I was desperate for answers so I could start putting pieces of this puzzle together which had kept me anxious since childhood.

The law of attraction indeed works in wondrous ways as the universe finally heard my vehement cry for light and sent help through my friend. One day my mother saw me crying and called my friend out of concern. My friends explained everything to my mother about how I felt and what all I was going through. After a lot of debate, dialogue, and resentment, I finally went to visit a psychiatrist. For the initial 10 minutes, I sat in front of him just crying. I remember crying like a baby. No wonder, after all, I had kept all this bottled up for years altogether. Finally, I started to open up and the aftermath was not that pretty. There was fighting and screaming. But years of pain, insecurities, heartbreak, disappointment, fear, loneliness, and anxiety, that I had kept buried inside me somewhere, now began to creep out. The only difference was that instead of pushing them under the carpet, I decided to sit with them and listen to them.

I know that all of us are taught to be cautious in life. But, in my experience, it is imperative to uphold the virtue of trust and vulnerability. Today I am 22 and I feel proud to say that I am now learning to acknowledge and deal with my emotions and feelings; embracing them as a part of me and opening my heart for myself and others. I believe it’s never too late and that we are always evolving. For this, and n number of other things, said and unsaid, I feel immense gratitude for my parents, my members of the NGO, and my friends. Without their love, support, encouragement, warmth, and reassurances, I wouldn’t have ever come to see that life isn’t about winning or losing, rather, it’s about ‘life’ itself.

Despite being surrounded by progressive and open-minded people, I felt crippling fear to believe in myself & my journey and even embarrassed to share it with you all. But, I no longer feel that. Depression is not something you should be afraid of or something you should feel unsettled about. It is just like any other medical issue which requires personal attention. Yes, it can resurface and be triggered at certain times, but again, so can any other medical concern. And if we don’t feel ashamed to seek help from a doctor, why do we hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional?

We should boldly step up and seek what we feel is the need of the hour – medicine, therapy, or whatever suits us. Most importantly, we must share. Share what we feel, how we are coping, how we are acting out or taking it all in. Anything..but just share it with someone we can confide in. Don’t keep your feelings tied up close in a box that has no vent. This baggage will weigh you too heavy. So share this load and empty this bag often. Know that its good to travel light and that there is always someone who will listen.

There are many valuable life-lessons that Depression taught me, but the one that stays with me each moment is that life is all about a leap of faith, and sometimes just faith. So hold on to your feelings. Don’t fake being okay. Be real with what you’re going through. Just don’t let it consume you.

Balance. Share. Unlearn. Evolve.

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