Present times in the city have exposed citizens young or old to increasing tendencies for suicidal ideation. The reasons for this are numerous ranging from a host of relationship issues, illnesses to loneliness and depression. Therefore. as 10th of October -'world suicide prevention day' is coming closer, this article is dedicated to spread an awareness on dealing with depression. This easy to read story is conceptualized to pass an message that depression is a reality and choice to live opens many doors to solutions.
One rainy afternoon, 18 year old Aishwarya went shopping to a posh South Mumbai mall and sat down to relish her favourite dish at the food court. As she was served her ordered meal, she took her first few morsels to delight clueless to what was coming next. Within moments, she fell off her chair, clutching her stomach, writhing in pain on the floor. She trembled, shivered and she cried aloud in despair. The confused crowd rushed to her aid, but only she knew what was really wrong.
Only few hours ago, young Aishwarya , disappointed with her failing relationship had decided that she was going to end it all. With a heavy heart she had acted upon this decision, and overdosed on pills to end her misery. As she lay there in excruciating pain, longing for her beloved to come to her rescue and realize that he truly loved her, reality began to sink in soon. Her lover, had not, would not be coming to her rescue and death was now staring her in the face. As she felt her life slipping away, a realisation struck her- “I was happy today though I was alone. I enjoyed this outing and I loved the freedom I felt today. I don't wish to die, I still want to live...”. Seconds later, she lost consciousness.
After spending two days in coma, Aishwarya opened her eyes for the first time to find herself lying on a hospital bed. As she looked around for a familiar face, she found her mother standing by her bed side, tearfully watching her struggle her way back to consciousness. With folded hands and tears of joy streaming down her face she thanked the Almighty. She rushed to tell the world, that her daughter, who had been teetering on the edge of death for the last two days, had fought her way out, to live for her self, her family and her dreams. For her mother, she was her 'hero'. Aishwarya soon recovered physically and was discharged from the hospital. But as she returned home, a bigger challenge awaited her. The doctors had healed her physically, but her emotional wounds were still fresh.
For the next few days, Aishwarya went into a shell. She would remain silent for hours, quietly refelecting on her actions. She knew she wanted to give life another chance, and be happy but no matter how hard she tried, she could not will her self to feel so. Her family, though supportive, were unaware of the bouts of depression Aishwarya was battling. That things were not alright soon became evident to them and this realization was not without disturbing encounters for Aishwarya .
Often her neighbours and distant relatives, mocked Aishwarya by calling her weak and taunted her family over her behaviour. Once at a social gathering, an over enthusiastic neighbour approached the table where they were seated and started sharing the latest neighbourhood gossip with them. In the process she sarcastically slipped in a remark that perhaps Aishwarya 'needed to see a shrink'. Aishwarya , and her family, who by now had learned to become thick-skinned to such jibes, remained unfazed and decided to take his suggestion with a pinch of salt. And to their surprise, it worked!
With the help of counselling and the support of her family, Aishwarya was able to turn her situation around. Today, she has many friends, healthier relationships and currently working as a journalist. However, the question remains to be answered is what happens when you wish to die? When you feel that life is not worth living? When you feel helpless and have no hope, or strength and that your existence is inconsequential?
The answer, to simply put it is that, that nothing positive happens to you when you are in such a state. Nothing gets better. It is only when you wish to live, that a vision for your life appears before you. Searching for a way to survive, instead of an escape from life, is what might help you pick up the pieces and rebuild your dreams. If one thing has not worked out, it is quite possible that there is another way. As Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam rightly put, “A dream is not the one you see in your sleep. A dream is the one that keeps you awake.” To live your dream, you first need to live. If your dream does not keep you awake, find one that will.
Surely, this is easier said than done. And Aishwarya is an example of someone who has managed to do it. Several others, who battled with clinical depression and other psychological illnesses, too have managed to fight their way out. But not everyone gets a second chance.
Hence awareness of emotional stressors and signs of fading mental health may just help you save yourself, or someone who you care about. When one goes through a difficult phase, it is often the emotional aspect of this distress which is the most difficult to deal with. Identifying the thoughts and emotions that bring you down and seeking ways to fix them is the foremost step to finding your way out of a crisis. Talking to loved ones about what you are feeling can greatly put you at ease, and if needed you could also approach professional help. This is likely to help you regain your strength to face life's challenges anew, when all you have tried has failed. It can not only enhance your existing strengths, but also help you develop new ones. A lot can change when you take failure as an opportunity to explore the positivity within you that you hitherto never noticed.
Aishwarya is just one of the many people who survived suicide, battled depression and came out on top. There are many such fighters around us; some who have overcome their demons – be they physical, or psychological, while others continue to fight them on a daily basis. However, the overall apathy towards mental health and mental illness is the biggest challenge. Just like physical illnesses require treatment and are painful, mental illnesses are not an exception to this. The sympathy and respect with which we treat cancer survivors is also deserved by the ones battling depression, chronic anxiety and suicidal tendencies. A non-judgmental perception towards individuals struggling with mental illness, is the first step towards ending the stigma that surrounds mental illness. By being there in a supportive non-judgemental manner, we can help a vulnerable person rebuild their strength and help them change their lives for the better.
Shahnaz Syed, team i-CALL, TISS