The recent news of Arjun Bhardwaj disturbed me a lot and I had to write this letter. Do feel free to share this with your friends and family.
To the ones going through a depressive phase, ones having suicidal thoughts–
If you’re reading this now, thank you, I’m passing on a tight virtual hug to you, to let you feel the warmth of care and understanding.
I don’t know you, I don’t know your story. I don’t know if you are a male, female, teenager, married, single or in your late sixties. I don’t know your beliefs, values, doubts, fears or behavioural patterns. I don’t know about your role models, the environment you’re currently living in, the relationships you have. I don’t know how your childhood was, what circumstances or events led you into this depressive phase.
Maybe you scored less marks or failed in a test. Maybe you lost a loved one, fought with your partner, went through a breakup or divorce. Maybe your parents are divorced or you lost your job or your best friend moved to a different city/country. Maybe you’re conscious about your looks, got rejected in a job interview, your start-up crashed or your business partner left you mid-way.
Maybe you’re going through a difficult phase in marriage, lost a child or you’re a single parent. Maybe you made some choices that didn’t give you the desired results, maybe you took some inappropriate decisions. Maybe you regret or feel guilty. Maybe you’re unable to forgive others or maybe you’re unable to forgive yourself.
Maybe everything in your life is going well, yet you feel a certain emptiness which you’re unable to put across in the right words.
Whatever it is, I want to tell you one thing- I know how it feels. I understand that feeling that suffocates you each moment. I know how it feels like to get up every single day, put up a mask and smile when you’re breaking down from within. I know how it feels like, when you want to run away from everyone, yet you can’t because you have responsibilities. I understand how it feels when you desperately want to connect with someone, but are scared to show your vulnerability. I know how it feels when you’re judged by your actions and emotions.
I know how it feels when you’re unable to concentrate on your studies or work because a million voices keep pulling you down. I understand the pain of being unloved, unwanted and insecure.
I understand all of these feelings, because I’ve faced them all. I was 19 when I first tried to commit suicide. After two unsuccessful attempts at suicide I chose to live, but how….each day was a struggle. Simple everyday tasks like brushing my teeth, taking bath and combing my hair seemed like huge chores. In 2008 I was diagnosed with clinical depression. I was a mother to a beautiful one year old girl and life looked scary. How could I parent my child? How could I be the best mother? What if my husband left me? Where will I go, how will I survive? Am I mad, will I go mad? What will the society say? These questions kept me awake the whole night, I lost weight, skipped meals and kept this secret hidden from my family.
After two years of battling the emotional ups and downs alone, in January 2010, I opened up in front of my husband. And since then life has transformed beautifully. The journey of healing taught me a few things and I am going to share that with you today.
When feelings of depression encompass you and push you in a deeper hole, you might feel that the world doesn’t need you. Such thoughts may arise. However I want you to doubt that thought, question it, now. Really? No one needs you? No one? Pause and you’ll be surprised to find that there is always one person who needs you the most in their life, right now. It could be your spouse, parents, children, your students or even a stranger.
For me it was my daughter. She needed her mother’s love the most. The love that I was denied as a child. I knew how it felt to grow up without a mother, so how could I give her the same feeling.
If you feel that your presence or absence doesn’t matter to anyone, let me tell you this, ‘You’re irreplaceable’
Confess your feelings
When going through a low phase, you may feel that no one will understand you or your problems. You may feel left out, hurt, unloved and unwanted. No matter what you are going through right now, trust me, the people close to you may fail to understand you. However that doesn’t mean that they can’t help you. I was surprised to see the shift in my husband’s behaviour the moment I confessed about my depressive phase. He started spending more time with me. When I’d cry for no reason, he stopped asking me questions, instead he sat next to me till I finished crying. We went for long walks, did meditation together and he pushed me to learn dancing. He became more compassionate. Talking to him shifted my perceptions and that led to increased confidence. His presence gave me the security that I longed for.
I want you to choose someone close to you or a third person, a friend, colleague or teacher and confess your feelings. Talk to them. They may not have the right answers to your questions or solutions to your problems, but talking it out may at times show you something that you missed seeing.
Give back to the society, help the needy
Life will keep happening, you may not be able to control life, but you can always prepare yourself to be resilient. Volunteering changed the way I saw myself. It made me feel loved and when I connected with needy children, I found inner peace. I started cooking food and distributed it to street kids. I gave my sarees to the sweeper and thanked her for her services. I gave books to a free library. I started storytelling. I shared my tiffin with a boy who sold coloring books in the local train. These small acts brought a smile to my face and in giving I received what I longed for always- love.
This is the most important thing I want to tell you. When your sugar level shoots up or you fracture your leg what do you do? Do you read a book on overcoming diabetes or visit a doctor? Do you listen to a podcast on healing fracture or visit an orthopedic? When for a common cold and fever we visit a doctor, why when it comes to mental illness, we stick to reading books and thinking that we can get better naturally. Reading, writing, art, dance and other creative activities do help you in healing, but seeking professional help will speed up the process of recovery.
From 2008 till 2012, I was reluctant to seek help. I thought I could work on myself and I’d feel better. And yes I did feel better, but I wasn’t seeing the transformation I wanted. The emotional outbursts had reduced considerably, but I still felt empty from within. And all that transformed in 2013 when I sought professional help from Antano and Harini, founders of School of Excellence. Breaking my limiting beliefs, getting into deep mental states and harnessing the power of my emotions helped me to paint my life in vivid colours. The excellence installations done by them, gave a deeper meaning to my life. With the help of my success coach Priyadarshini I was able to see the limitless possibilities around me. There are many genuine people out there to help you, all you need to do is reach out to them.
Counselling, therapy sessions and alternative healing modalities can work wonders. My life is an example of that. Go ahead and seek help, it’s the best decision you can take and trust me life will transform, miraculously.
Share your story
Michael Burns Director, Founder of Tall Tales Storytelling says, “Everyone has at least one great story” and it is your responsibility to share your story with the world. Do watch me narrate my personal stories with Tall Tales, a platform that showcases true personal stories.
I regularly take counselling and therapy sessions for children, parents and teenagers. If you know someone who might need help, do share this post. If you want to book an appointment for therapy, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
May there be hope and light in your life, always