As promised at the end of our last week’s episode, welcome to Mental Health May!
Many among us have a little puff of a gloomy cloud hovering over us. On some days it seems to be as light as a wisp of smoke, while on others it is dark and foreboding like a raging storm – so big that it covers our entire head so that we can’t see, think or feel clearly.
“Yeah, we could cry until we can’t breathe.” – Sadness, Inside Out
This week, we say hello to Darkness – our old friend. Sweety opens up about her year-long (and continuing) battle with depression, anxiety and (at times) crippling panic attacks.
According to the WHO about 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and another 38 million suffer from anxiety disorders. That’s more than the entire population of Germany. Roughly one in 20 Indians suffer from depression, accordingly to the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences.
Despite this overwhelming number, we desis are ill-equipped to talk about mental illnesses and understand the broad spectrum they operate within.
“वह दिमाग का संतुलन खो बैठी है”
Meena Kumari was called the Tragedy Queen. Her heart-wrenching portrayal of pain, loss and suffering was celebrated on celluloid. She gave expression to these emotions like no one could. In real life she battled alcoholism which eventually lead to her early death. But, could she also have been clinically depressed?
For any country, pop culture i.e. what we see, read, sing about is the zeitgeist of its times. When it comes to talking about, or even portraying mental illness, Bollywood has served us vacant-eyed, lobotomized ‘electric shock’ lewks. Off late, Bollywood seems to have finally got the memo with Dear Zindagi.
Pappu and Sweety talk about celebrities who have been brave and honest about their struggles with depression and related mental health issues. Live, Laugh, Love is an organization started by desi queen Deepika Padukone, borne out of her personal struggles with depression.
Includes in this episode, is a questionnaire by Sweety to self-administer. But ultimately this should be no substitute for a professional assessment.
Finally, we also share our top tips on how you can fight back when you feel the fast approaching shadow of your Gloomy Old Friend. We talk about how you can be a supportive friend when you get that 4 a.m. call from your friend in the middle of a panic attack. Also, we talk about Things You’re Not Allowed to Say when someone confides to you they are in therapy or are depressed.
Resources we talk more about on this episode:
- Your Dost – Online web portal with counsellors to help you through work stress, relationship, self-image issues and more.
- The Vandrevala Foundation – A not-for-profit organisation that provide funding and aid contributions for those suffering from mental health problems and illnesses in India.
- Maple Jar Online Counselling
- Better Help Online Counselling App on iTunes & Google Play – Get private, affordable online counseling when you need it from licensed, board-accredited therapists at a nominal monthly fee.
While one-on-one therapy can be expensive, some resources you can consider are attending support groups meetups, reconnecting with your support system (family and close friends, provided they are there to help you), self-care and exercise. You can also check with your insurance to see if psychotherapy is covered.
In continuation of our Mental Health May theme, on our next episode, we have a special guest: Dr. Almas Merchant who is a kickass clinical psychologist practicing in NYC. If you have a burning question you need us to ask her, you can send it via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Facebook or Instagram DM.
Peace out! ✌️