"When symptoms of depression crept into my teen years, I confused it as 'being unhappy with my body.' I was obese as a child, and was used to people telling me, 'Moti ho gayihai.' So thinking that losing weight would make me happy, I went on a fitness binge; when I moved to Mumbai for college, I lost 20 kilos. But no matter how much weight I lost, I couldn't escape the feeling of emptiness.
I knew something was wrong, when I didn't feel joy after getting selected for an exchange program at Harvard-my dream college. Throughout the trip, I acted like the most cheerful person, only to go back to my room and cry myself to sleep. I couldn't understand why-I'd ticked off the biggest thing on my bucket list. That was the first night I wrote a suicide note.
I thought about getting help a lot. But people said things like, 'I feel like dying' or 'I'm depressed' so casually, that I thought I was overreacting. My parents thought mental health wasn't a 'real problem' either, so I acted like everything was okay.
For 5 years, my illness went unchecked. On the surface, everything was great; I'd secured a good job, topped my exams, and had a good group of friends. I almost felt guilty for feeling unhappy. But on the inside, I was falling apart. I'd write suicide notes and think about jumping off my balcony or drinking phenyl. I knew I couldn't keep it a secret any longer, so I told my friends and family. They arranged for me to see a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with 'Dysthymia'-chronic depression. I began to take medication and started therapy, everyday. Things got a little better, but I'd suppressed myself for so long, that recovery wasn't easy.
It's been a month since I've been home, and I know it's going to be a long road before I can say I've healed. But I'm trying. I've even started a forum for people struggling with mental health, to vent their feelings, and find comfort in our safe space. I still don't know when the next episode will grip me, but at least I finally know one thing- you can have a mental illness even if your life is seemingly great and that's just okay."
Human of Bombay, Fb
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