Culture

Alia Bhatt’s sister Shaheen opens up about battling depression

“One minute everything's fine and the next it's like someone turned the light off inside my head.”

Talking about mental health is still considered taboo in Indian society, despite the World Health Organisation's recent report highlighting India as the world’s most depressed country. Taking on this status quo are celebrities like Deepika Padukone and Karan Johar, whose candid confessions about suffering from depression have helped the topic worm its way into dinner table discussions. 

Adding her voice to the growing chorus is Alia Bhatt’s sister Shaheen, who recently posted a picture on Instagram describing her everyday struggles with depression. Clarifying that people around her already knew about her battle, she addressed why she chose to come clean on social media. “I spend a fair amount of time on social media during the course of my day and today I found myself looking for something to post because it's been a few days since I've posted anything. I couldn't find anything so I figured I'd just talk about this - how I'm doing, instead of what I'm doing. It's as simple as that, and we could all stand to do a little more of it,” she wrote.

I've lived with depression on and off since I was about 13 years old. This is not a revelation or a confession. Those who know me know this about me. It's not something I take any pains to hide, I'm not ashamed of it or particularly troubled by it. It's just a part of who I am. I have days where I feel good and then I have days where I don't. One minute everything's fine and the next it's like someone turned the light off inside my head. I go quiet and it's difficult to get out of bed. Like it always does the world around me loses focus and I struggle to make sense of it. Sometimes these bouts last an hour - sometimes they last days. Today, I'm on day 4. I say I live with depression rather than I struggle with it because for me (and I speak only for myself here) I don't see why it has to be a struggle. I once read an idea by an American essayist called Richard Mitchell which stayed with me; it's now become how I try to approach the dips in my week or month. The idea is this: To be sick, or to suffer, is inevitable. But to become bitter and vindictive in sickness and suffering and to surrender to irrationality, supposing yourself the innocent and virtuous victim of the evils intentions of the world, is not inevitable. The appropriate answer to the question - Why me? is the other question - Why not me? *** Why am I writing about this? Well, I spend a fair amount of time on social media during the course of my day and today I found myself looking for something to post because it's been a few days since I've posted anything. I couldn't find anything so I figured I'd just talk about this - how I'm doing, instead of what I'm doing. It's as simple as that, and we could all stand to do a little more of it. P.S. That picture just seemed to work in this context.

A photo posted by Shaheen Bhatt (@shaheenb) on Nov 23, 2016 at 12:18am PST