Depression and Alcoholism are two of the most misunderstood diseases that exist in the world today. Suffice to say, what I am writing is not hearsay. I am not a high profile person so you may not react to what I have to say because it doesn’t come with the enormous public exposure that accompanies known personalities admitting to Depression. I suffer from, what my Psychiatrist said, is Mild Depression. I have spent loads of personal time trying to help a person with Alcoholism. What keeps me sane is the knowledge that in the end, we are just a series of chemicals and in both the above diseases its just that the chemical combination has got messed up. Simple? Got it?
Well, it’s not so simple, since it needs to be accepted and acknowledged.
In this Blog I will talk only about Depression. My late mother suffered from Dementia and the early stages of Alzheimer’s. If it had happened to her twenty years ago she would have been called mad, in our village. The amazing part is that Kerala, which was notorious for its inability to understand either Alcoholism or Depression, has now begun to understand both and more people are going to see Psychiatrists and Psychologists and seek help. Till the start of this decade Kerala did not have even one Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) center. Today, there are quite a few. Bangalore, where I live, has seen a huge increase in the number of people seeking treatment for Depression. However, the reason for me writing this is that there still remains a lot to be understood about Depression.
https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/depression – this is just one among many sites where you can get to understand what the symptoms are and how you can recognize if you need attention. I had checked all the boxes when a similar check list was sent to me over ten years ago. It is also important to understand that there are a huge number of people who suffer from Depression. In 2017, 197 million Indians were suffering from mental disorders, of whom 46 million had depression and 45 million anxiety disorders, according to the study whose findings were released on Monday.Dec 23, 2019.
One of the scariest issues with Depression is that there is no external or physical sign to show anyone that you are suffering from this dreaded disease. I have known how it is to sit in the midst of people talking abut all kinds of stuff with my mind in complete chaos. Outwardly, I am trying to listen to what is being said but inside me the two wolves are fighting each other to gain control. There is a very interesting story of a Cherokee Indian talking about depression – do read this link – https://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/with-depression-wolf-you-feed-wolf-that-wins/. He could not have put it better than he did.
When someone we knew committed suicide, our school class deputy head honcho said that no Lawrencian would be ‘weak’ enough to do this as we had learnt to Never Give In ( This is our school motto). He is a PhD and obviously would not listen to me when I told him how badly informed he was. Eventually, it took a qualified psychiatrist class mate and friend to explain to him how terribly misplaced his assumptions were. He is one among many who do NOT accept this as a problem that even so called ‘tough’ people suffer from. Doctors of other types of medicine do not give this illness the seriousness it deserves. One Doctor told me – be with “happy People”. I did not have the heart to ask him to define to me who a “happy Person” was.
Depression can give you panic attacks. It is when you feel totally unable to manage the present. You think everything is sitting on your head and you cant bear the load any more. You can suddenly feel low, feel as if there is no escape from the problems you face, no answer to the questions that confront you. You just want to curl up in bed and sleep. You do not want to talk to people you normally talk to. Almost everything you speak is tinged in negativity. You feel tired. When you wake up from your sleep at 3 in the morning you cannot sleep again. This starts the cycle as obviously you are tired and not fresh in the morning.
What do you do? First thing is you recognise that you have a problem. No, do not go to see a psychiatrist first, search for a psychologist ( a counselor). Talk to the counselor and after a few sessions where you will be diagnosed the treatment will start. Now, do NOT jump to take medication. (DO NOT SELF MEDICATE, AVOID SUBSTANCE ABUSE. DRINKING IS NO SOLUTION). Your counselor will suggest many exercises that you have to do. The process is slow but you can win as long as you recognise that your problem will take time to sort out. Baby steps. Exercise is an amazing antidote to depression. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise.htm . Let us be clear about one thing – just medication is not going to solve your depression. In today’s world it is a combination of Counselor, a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist who are best suited to treat you, depending on the severity of your problem. They will suggest many things that you need to do and how often to meet them, talk to them etc. Please follow this advice to the T.
To end, I believe one of the easiest ways to handle depression is to accept it, face it, treat it and realise that it is just that the chemicals in your body needed realignment. High profile folks face a greater stress to handle depression as they are expected to perform a larger than life role. Sadly, they are more vulnerable than us, the average people. Depression can be beaten. Do NOT mistake it for a sign of weakness. Work on it like you would any problem you face. There is a solution. Talking to family and friends is often easier said than done. So, keep your counselor close at hand. You may and will need hand holding at times. That is fine. What is important is that you have the desire to succeed and beat the dreaded D. I have done reasonably well for over a decade and I am sure you will too, if you suffer from Depression.
My thoughts go out to the young Sushant Singh Rajput. May his soul Rest in Peace.
( Note – if you do suffer from depression please contact a psychologist/ psychiatrist and get sorted. My article is just one to give you a view point. You CAN beat it. You must) #BeatDepression #StaySafe