There’s a sadness that comes when something terrible happens- a loss of a loved one, having a string of terrible days at work or when a tragedy unlike any other befalls you. But what happens when the sadness lingers? It lingers somewhere inside of you becoming a little too comfortable, filling up in your bloodstream and making your body its home. That’s what I felt like, constantly. It physically hurt everywhere- it hurt to breathe, it hurt to be walking and it hurt to be living. Now, I’m not writing this piece to make any of you relive what you may already have gone through, but I want you all to know when I say, “I get it.” I really do.
The funny thing (it always strikes me strange that we use this term for things that don’t really make us laugh) is that I had a notion about depression. It had a face in my head. Sleepless nights or sleeping in too much, not being able to eat or eating too much, lack of energy, and being in bed with the door locked all day, every day. But mine looked a little different and crept up in other ways. I could go to work, could sometimes even squeeze in a workout, could socialise with people and wasn’t isolating myself. So I wasn’t depressed, was I? Turns out that I had what I later understood as high functioning depression along with anxiety.
I was always the happy kid, the one who made everyone laugh, the one who got the whole crew together. On my Instagram it looked like I had my life all together- I was doing what I love, writing, going out to the ‘it’ places of the city and taking copious amounts of selfies perfecting that sultry pout. But that’s not what life is, right? I think somewhere in the middle of trying to live the ‘perfect’ life, I forgot to be human and that’s when the domino effect started.
It was my best friend who knew before I did that something was wrong. When days and nights came crashing, when feelings were drowned in 120 ml drinks, and when sex with strangers was the only time I could shut off my brain- she held me tightly in her arms and soothed me to sleep. It is she who deserves an award today.
Understanding that something was wrong was the first step, taking action was the next. I pushed myself to go see a therapist in the city, and convinced myself that everything would be better. However, to my dismay, she and I weren’t the perfect fit. Not this Cinderella’s glass slipper, I suppose. This is when my community held my broken pieces together and gave me the strength to not lose hope. I found another woman who just understood, you know?
Since then it’s been a roller-coaster ride- there have been great days and there have been terrible ones but what has changed is my attitude towards them. At first, I would think that this is how it is going to be, maybe forever: sadness and I were bound in a bond stronger than marriage. However, now I know that the days come and go, feelings change, and the whirlpool you feel like you’re being sucked into does subside.
It was the therapy that saved me and knowing that there were many more people going through exactly what I was, helped me to feel less alone. There were days I would go and cry my eyes out but every time I came out of that room, I felt like a weight had been lifted off me. I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say that it was a magic elixir that worked overnight, it was gradual, but it helped. I understood that childhood trauma causes a deep impact on the person you are today and putting that to rest has made all the difference.
My support system has been my backbone through this journey. I was lucky to have supportive parents who understood that mental disorders are real and need to be dealt with. They spoke to me every day, checked up on me and hugged me tightly when I needed it. My friends understood that I wasn’t being dramatic when I said, “It’s too much to take.” They came over to sit and talk to me and pushed me to be less harsh with myself. I’ll be forever grateful.
Having a routine was the best gift I could give myself. I started working out, eating healthy and taking care of myself physically- that reformed my mental state too. I made a tight schedule for myself- go to the gym, shower, get to work, write as best I can, get home, do things that I love and sleep on time. Working out releases serotonin which is incredible to combat depression. On days when I didn’t have the energy to do a full hour of workout, I’d go for a 10-minute walk around the park- just that much helps too.
Getting the required dose of sunlight and fresh air isn’t stressed upon enough. I used to live in a basement where the sunlight was zilch, I used to spend hours in the park just being close to nature. Eventually, I moved out of that house and now have a cute balcony with sheer curtains to let in loads of sunshine.
I saved myself.
I understood that this is my journey - good, bad, ugly, beautiful - it is shaping me into the person I am to become. Therapy doesn’t work if you don’t put in the hard work yourself and people won’t know what you’re going through unless you tell them. All this I did by myself. Self-care is a gorgeous process and one that I’ve grown to love. Journaling, allowing myself to feel my feelings, drawing, and reading helped me get in touch with the person I used to be. Some days I would just put on a sheet mask, listen to music and cry- that too became therapeutic in so many ways. I found my way to myself (the bylanes of which I am still discovering).
I don’t know if this piece is mopey or it’s romanticising the process a little too much but I do know that it’s been a little more than a year since I started therapy and I don’t feel like my emotions rule my life all the time- that for me is a win. I am still a work in progress but as long as I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I’ll survive. And you will too.
If you’re feeling suicidal just know that people care about you, they want you to be happy, to live. Here are some helpline numbers to call who can help:
Sumaitri, Delhi- 011-23389090
Lifeline Foundation, Kolkata- +913324637401/7432
Hope Helpline, Kota- 0724 433 3666
Samaritans, Mumbai- +91226464 3267
Sahai, Bengaluru- +9180 25497777
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