Sick of hearing about depression? Good!
When a star talks about it on primetime TV, we get closer to making this illness unremarkable
The most important difference between a physical and a mental ailment is where you’re allowed to talk about it. We discuss our migraines, our poly-cystic ovaries and our slipped discs with friends over lunch. We deal with anxiety, panic attacks and suicidal thoughts alone. There’s no logical reason behind why we do this. At some point we decided, as a society, that only the scars that show matter.
Deepika Padukone first spoke about her experience with depression when she wrote about it for a newspaper. A couple of days ago, she went on NDTV talk show We The People and spoke about it some more. She was joined by her mother, her counsellor and her psychiatrist. She spoke about the emptiness, the confusion, the frequent crying jags. She also discussed the barriers that kept her isolated: friends trying to jolly her out of it, her own ignorance about the condition and her resistance to taking medication.
Padukone is not saying anything new. And it’s important that she keep saying it. It’s okay for depression to not have the excitement of breaking news, because it is not. Depression is common — according to the show, 36 per cent of Indians suffer from it. It’s a dangerously boring disease because its symptoms are so varied that they often fly under the radar of medical attention. You might turn into a workaholic or quit your job and stay in bed. You may withdraw from people, or become clingy. You may put out cigarettes on your arm or look up tutorials on tying a noose. There is no one way to be depressed and there is nothing special about depression.
If we keep this conversation going till it reaches every last Indian, the 36 per cent affected and the 64 per cent who care about them, till it becomes as routine and banal as the pulse polio adverts, till we can talk about it over lunch with friends — then we can move on to more exciting things.
Watch the full episode here