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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Of Deepika Padukone and the battle against depression: awe and support


“We talk about all kinds of aliments [sic], but this is probably one of the deadliest mental disorders. Nothing, including life, makes sense to people suffering from it”; thus spake Deepika Padukone, heartthrob of a billion, to Hindustan Times.

Deepika has admitted that she suffered from acute depression (acting in Happy New Year was not the reason).* The lady who had bowled me over in Om Shanti Om with her vivacity, who was so full of life, the woman with one of the most disarming smiles, was actually a victim of depression without the world knowing.

And she has been honest about it. No pretensions. Nothing. Coming out of the closet does not mean admitting an affair. Coming out of the closet is more about winning an affair against demons. Like depression.

But then, so was Robin Williams. The funniest and most cheerful people are often the saddest ones. Throughout his life Robin Williams played the cheery loner on screen; we failed to understand he had been playing himself all along.

It is a fact we will read and choose to ignore till it concerns us some day, simply because we think it is a luxury one can afford if the person
(a) has time and money, or
(b) does not have any responsibility to deal with.

Makes it sound like a trip to Mauritius or Seychelles or wherever Blue was shot, does it not?


This is (copy-pasted) exactly what Deepika had to face herself: “How can you be depressed? You have everything going for you. You are the supposed number one heroine and have a plush home, car, movies. What else do you want?” Does this sound familiar?

I said this immediately after Robin Williams had passed away: depression is an ogre that nobody barring you agrees to acknowledge. The worst bit is, you would want people — someone who loves you and cares for you — to surround you, to talk to you, to listen to you, to hold you, only to realise that they do not have the time; or intent.

It is then that the battle starts — one against the worst conceivable feeling. Consider this: you will not have a wound to show; you will not run a temperature; you will not need to go for scans or blood tests; and yet it will keep eating you from inside.

In other words, you will be withering away without anyone knowing.

Let us see what Deepika's experience (I never imagined I would quote Deepika, but here you go): “Every morning, it was a struggle to wake up...There were days when I would feel okay, but at times, within a day, there was a roller-coaster of feelings.”

She hated waking up in the morning. This is not the usual Monday morning blues — it happens on Saturday mornings as well. That is what depression does to you. Every day starts with a horrible empty feeling that the day ahead of you is going to be a useless one. Even if you wake up, you need to drag yourself out of bed.

Every day. Every day. Even your birthday.

Depression can make you cry, just like that, when you drop a bar of soap in the shower (no, using shower gel will not solve this) or you lose a pencil or whatever.

Depression can make you crave for being understood, to be held, even if for a minute. The longing does not happen all the while, but it does not go away completely either.  

What do you do once you hate waking up every day and do not feel like doing anything?

You feel your existence is futile.

What do you do if you feel your existence is futile?

You get suicidal thoughts.

What do you do if you get suicidal thoughts?

You do not want me to spell that out, do you?

That is what depression can do to you, and it will be too late if that happens.

But, what do you do if you get suicidal thoughts and are too weak to take your life? What if even the suicide seems futile?

That is what depression can also do to you, except that it will not be too late.

So, if you think you suffer from depression, do not hesitate. Go to a doctor before it is too late. Counselling may not help completely, but it will help improve things. At least you will know there is someone who will listen to you patiently, even if for money.

But there will be a stage after which counselling will refuse to work.

It is then that the medicines will come in. You may be scared of being addicted to them, but you will not be addicted. If you do not believe me, read up; look at Deepika, who has been coping brilliantly since she recovered. She had taken a two-month break, but is back in full swing.

Do not give up. On the other hand, do not try to act too strong, for you will never know when you spill over the brink. Remember:
1. Consulting a psychiatrist does not make you a mad person. Go. Do not delay. A day’s delay can be detrimental, and may push recovery by a month.
2. Just because friends do not reach out to you during depression does not mean they are avoiding you. It can have to do with the fact that they do not understand — which is perfectly feasible. Tell people. There is no harm. You never know who the person is.
3. Do not wait for those arms to come to you. Maybe they will not. Keep trying. Reach out for the world.
4. Anti-depressants do not kill people. In fact, a cause for clinical depression is chemical imbalance, and there is no other cure if that is indeed the cause.
5. Do not try to fight depression. Accept it instead, and find a way around it. It is a demon that needs to be killed slowly. You cannot hurry things and cannot be impatient.
6. Most importantly, depression is nothing to be ashamed about. It happens.

Here is what World Health Organisation had to say on the topic as early as in 2001: “If we take the example of depression which is currently ranked fourth among the 10 leading causes of the global burden of disease, it is predicted that by the year 2020, it will have jumped to second place.”

If it is predicted to be at number two in five years’ time, why be ashamed? Why stay in a closet? There are solutions. Come out. Seek them out. Find out others who have been through this. Seek their help. Change your physician, if required. 

But solve it. And once you are done, help others come out. Be the helping hand to them that you never had when you needed. Hold their hands. Hold them tight. Who better than you to cure others?
You have vowed to solve this, Deepika. Whatever your team does to eradicate this, I am with you on this (I am sure you will not be reading this, so it will really not matter to you, but just in case) — simply because there are few things in the world as cool as helping others overcome depression.


* Farah Khan, I am still loyal to you; still; I remember Main Hoon Na and Om Shanti Om and forgive you for Happy New Year. Anyone who has given an Om Shanti Om is a legend despite everything else.


  1. Wise words from an incredibly wise person! :)
    This girl makes every woman proud on her...An inspiring soul for all of us!! More power to u Deepika!

  2. Wonderfully written! You raised a very valid point, and I really appreciate that.

  3. It's not easy to understand what goes through a person's mind when he or she is depressed. It is hard for even them to realise why they suddenly find everything irritating and distasteful, and all company unwanted. It's also tough to understand who that special companion can be with whom they may want to spend time or trust sharing their feelings.

    Loss of interest in everything - a feeling that no one is there really as a true friend - and a constant question "why" everything? WHAT'S the reason behind carrying on? Why carry on living for others when no one seems to understand or have the time?

    1. >> Why carry on living for others when no one seems to understand or have the time?

      That, Sir, is what we all strive to do. Living for others and not letting them suffer from what we have at some point of time.

  4. Depression is like a personal dark cloud that each of us carry most of the time. But I have personally vouch it is possible to fight this with the right attitude and the right friends .

    1. Absolutely. I can vouch for the same. It is a battle you can win provided you have the right attitude, and, well, friends.

  5. What saddened me when i was suffering from depression was that my parents asked me to "get over it". I used to remain unwashed and not brush for days,and had dark circles around my eyes that mde me look like a racoon. Deepika has stayed alone in mumbai for the longest time.I had my parents with me who had no idea what i was going through. And that kinda distanced them. I was going through a break up and my parents kicked me like i was a sick horse who was suddenly not galloping around.

    1. I know, Anonymous. Those who have not been through the pangs will never get it, parents or otherwise. But do share, if you want to. My email address is at the top left of my blog. Do not hesitate. I do not charge either. :)

  6. Well written. An important post for spreading the awareness. Thank you... and thank you, Deepika P.

  7. "But, what do you do if you get suicidal thoughts and are too weak to take your life? What if even the suicide seems futile?" - I have seen and known how this actually is. It is scary beyond imagination. I wish everyone started taking this seriously and got treated before it is way too late

    1. If you have any problems, please feel free to reach out. You know where to reach me.

  8. I am proud of Deepika. She is brave girl, fought with the depression and snatch victory. The best way to fight with depression is make friends, gossip with them. It will relax your mind, also doing Yoga and meditation also help a let. Everyday morning I start my day with yoga then light few Cycle incense sticks and start meditating. Yoga and meditation helps a lot for the people who is suffering in chronic headache. Try and let me know if it is useful.

    1. Thank you for the advice. I am sure the readers would benefit.

  9. I am amazed! This is a large carte Ovshake. Am glad that you are doing this. It's so important to reach out and most of all its important to connect. Actually in the fear of sounding condescending,dare I say , I am proud of you?

    1. Aha, that is a big thing to say. Thank you for the kind words.

  10. Very good article, I was also face the same issue in my past, One of my best friend suggested to do yoga & mediation in a daily basis.. From my own experience I am telling you it does miracles for depression !!, You know every morning I start my day with meditation. After bath I light few Cycle incense sticks and start doing meditation. believe it really works. Try and let me know if it is useful. :)

    1. Thank you for the input, Parvathy, and welcome to my blog.