It is Day 15 of the Happiness Project. I started this project 15 days back during the World Mental Health Week and this year’s theme was ‘Suicide Prevention’. I had had suicidal thoughts myself and I am currently being treated for depression. I have also left my job temporarily. Many people may think and told me that :
‘This is not a solution’
‘You need to stay tough,you need to stay strong’
‘The world is the way it is’
‘Its not a big deal, stay happy’
‘Don’t be so weak’
‘Don’t cry in front of people’
‘How will you deal with life when you are behaving like this?’
I’m a doctor myself but even with my medical knowledge , I continued to deny my suffering, I continued to deny the cloud within me. I have thought of shedding some light on this so very neglected illness.
Depression Patients are Ridiculed
I’m sure many of us in our better states may have ridiculed someone for ‘acting’ miserable. We all think that the person is seeking sympathy. Well yes, the person needs empathy ,acceptance and love. I don’t think thats hard to give.
One of my junior told me that, ‘Don’t behave like *****’
My rommmate told me that she felt grateful that she didn’t have such problems! What a sick thing to say! I spent atleast two weeks in the hostel before making a decision to go home. She didn’t ask me once if I was doing fine.
Well Some people did ask me if I was okay but most of them had a total disregard for it. There were people whom I had helped in the past, supported them during their dark days but they also happened to ignore me. I don’t blame them. I may also have been a part of this culture before but luckily I now understand how grave it can be. The existence of depression is mostly denied. There is a lot of stigma, so many misbeliefs, a lot of mockery and most importantly indifference.
One batchmate asked me if its depression or borderline personality disorder! It was depression. He maybe a little disappointed! But yes depression is also serious.
I heard all this crap from the very educated medical community who took pride in working in one of the most reputed premiere hospitals of Asia. Its all termed as a ‘drama’, an attention seeking behaviour and decorated with the ‘you need to be strong theory’.
You get up and you feel the emptiness, its neither the emptiness of the sky that sees the world from a distance, nor it is of the oceans that harbour everything but appear empty. It is the real emptiness, of the space between the sea and the sky, that carries nothing, that has no name, that has no meaning. Your subconsciousness does not spring any questions or answers and it has resigned to the infinite void, the void before a storm.
You don’t feel like doing anything. Everything seems a struggle from getting out of bed in the morning, taking a bath, making a conversation. Its all a struggle. I had a desire to sleep and to never wake up. I used to plan suicide, read about different ways of ending my life.
Depression – Diagnosis
Depression is often confused with sadness. Sadness is a normal human emotion. You maybe sad for few hours or days but then you get up again. A good movie or food will cheer you up. Sadness is often triggered. But in depression you lose the ability to experience joy. Even activities that you once enjoyed become a struggle.
DSM-5 outlines the following criterion to make a diagnosis of depression. The individual must be experiencing five or more symptoms during the same 2-week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
- A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
- Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
In today’s world sarcasm has become the new cool. People take pride in breaking people down, in crushing people. Certain illnesses require different treatment. When exposed to cold we need a blanket and hot soup. We don’t need exposure to more cold to make us strong, it may kill us. There are times when we need a pat of hope, a balm of love and comforting words. We just need support and love.
I don’t think that’s hard to give. So instead of always wishing for sunshine, acknowledge the clouds around you. You maybe a cloud someday, wishing for some sunshine and maybe a glass of wine!!!
Acknowledge the clouds instead of feeling grateful and lucky for not having problems!!!!
Smile more often!!!