Suicides amongst the youth are at an all-time high. The Blue Whale suicide game did not leave India untouched and kids as young as 10 fell prey to it. And still we haven't questioned our stance towards depression. The society still looks down upon someone suffering from it. There's something terribly wrong with a society that considers depression a sign of weakness.
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Boys, especially, are expected to stay strong in every situation – they are not allowed meltdowns, they are not allowed to remain sad for too long, they cannot quit, they cannot sit back and say ‘Hey it's too much for me; I can't do it anymore.' ‘Manning up' is a phrase that has ironically ruined the lives of many men.
This post on Humans of Bombay about losing a friend to suicide is a heartbreaking reminder of exactly why we need to treat depression as something that can affect anybody. Talking about the friend, the guy in the post says, “He was the most fun loving person in the room — always making everyone around him laugh and the first one to start dancing to Bollywood music at every party. He was intelligent, talented and a very loved person — but one fine day we woke up to the news that he had committed suicide.”
Isn't it odd? The most fun people are often deeply sad inside. They try to make everybody laugh because deep inside, something hurts terribly. These are the people who laugh easily and the slightest of pretexts. The pain inside is too much to bear and laughter helps. They are always, even sub-consciously, trying to cope up. No one around them ever gets to know. Until it's too late.
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The post further says, “People began to speculate that it was to do with his love life, or that he had other work challenges, but the truth is that it isn't one particular thing that results to depression. It's just a feeling of losing way, which could stem from absolutely anything.”
It's often not about one thing and it's never sudden. It piles up months after months of trying to cope up, trying to tell yourself you are doing fine. Sometimes, you reach out to other people; sometimes, you try to hide it.
The stigma around depression has made it difficult for anyone suffering from it to talk about it openly. “Oh don't be so sensitive.” “Stop overthinking.” “You are too soft” – the last thing a person suffering from depression wants to hear is that he is the problem.
Depression can affect anybody and everybody, because accept it or not, life IS difficult and we do get bogged down. It's only human. It's not easy to get up and get going every time. Everyone is allowed that. And everyone reacts differently.
We have been so brainwashed into believing that depression is a sign of weakness that we probably would be in denial even if suffer from it. Or you may not even realise that the chronic sadness you've been unable to shrug off for months is actually depression. Perhaps that is why you still can't sleep without having a couple of drinks before you retire to bed. Perhaps that is why you have stopped going out with friends; perhaps that is why you have been falling ill so frequently.
Talk about yourself, talk about the way you feel, talk about your hopes and dreams and failures and ****-ups. It's not uncool. It does not make you a sissy. Be aware of your own feelings and of others. Someone close to you might be struggling with depression and you might never get to know.