When your mind becomes your lethal enemy
Updated: Sep 18, 2019
Another life lost to depression, as Hyderabad TV anchor, Radhika Reddy commits suicide, leaving behind a note that read, “My brain is my enemy.” As with many depressed people, she managed to put on a brave, even happy face at work. Nobody knew the dark, uphill battle she was fighting, wrecked not by an outsider, but her own mind.
Depression is not something we can wish away. It’s as real, and often more painful than a broken leg. And it’s a lonely journey, as it’s silent and often goes unnoticed, and remains largely untreated, especially in India. It plays havoc in one’s mind. It can be debilitating, destructive for one’s personal and professional life, and in severe cases, can lead to suicide. It is not an ailment exclusive to the weak, emotionally unstable, rich or poor. It cuts across genders and geographies, across social and economic barriers and can spring up in children and adults alike. Yet we rush to put a Band-Aid on the tiniest of cuts, see the doctor when we run a fever, but are so resistant to acknowledging any problem that has to do with our mind? How come every other organ in our body can get sick and we get sympathy, except for our most vital organ – our brain? Why do we not treat our mind like any other part of the body? Here lies the greatest catalyst in making us the most depressed country in the world.
We swing between either attaching no seriousness to a mental disorder, or according it such shame and stigma that even seeking help or talking about it becomes taboo. Add to that, the lethal cocktail of lack of awareness, meagre financial resources, rampant superstition and an appallingly frail mental health infrastructure, and what do we get? We get 36% Indians who are depressed! If that’s not a grave, silent and subversive medical emergency, what is?
If we don’t start talking openly about depression and mental illness, it will engulf us in ways we can’t even fathom. WHO already declared India as the most depressed country in 2016. Before we know it, the majority of our population will be depressed, including (and especially) our youth. Let’s start by talking about depression openly at home, with our friends, and our co-workers. Let’s change what’s happening in our country’s “upstairs department.” Let us—all of us, be the change, because it all starts with the mind!
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