Deepika Padukone’s decision to come out in open about her battle with depression offers hope to millions of Indians suffering from it
We are one of the most depressed countries in the world. We have one of the highest suicide rates too. Yet, like the three monkeys of Mahatma’s talisman, we don’t see, hear or speak about it. More than any other country, India cannot afford a depression epidemic because it has the youngest population in the world. Therefore, it becomes critical for us to be shaken out of the slumber. That’s exactly what actress Deepika Padukone has done when she came out with her battle with depression and how she survived it.
Deepika’s story put the spotlight on what is considered a very hush-hush topic. No one talks about depression because unlike a physical ailment there are no definitive symptoms for a mental ailment.
In an interview to a news channel, Deepika revealed that she wanted to come out with her story because she considers (and it is true) there is a stigma attached to the topic of depression. People fear talking about it and therefore succumb to it because either they don’t know how to deal with it or there is no right help in hand. Deepika began noticing that she was being different at a time when she was being showered with all the glory and profuse praises for being the only actress who delivered four back to back blockbusters.
“One day I woke up feeling empty and directionless,” she said pulling the veneer off what people considered a privileged life — India’s top notch actress, the most sought after face for the brands, daughter of celebrity parents and inarguably the most eligible girl in town. To the outside world, Deepika had everything going for her and yet she could sense, “something was wrong and that suffered bouts of feeling low.”
That’s because depression has nothing to do with what you have achieved or not. As Deepika’s counsellor, Dr Shyam Bhagat, said in the interview that for people “Depression is an isolated, lonely, private condition that you cannot share. People think it is a weakness to have depression.”
It was, therefore, extremely courageous for Deepika to step out and use her position of influence as a role model for millions of young Indians to initiate a dialogue on what she considers the most important health issue to talk about. To take the lid off your vulnerabilities and show your human side is extremely difficult for a celebrity because they put themselves out in the public domain to be judged. While Deepika had a fantastic support system in her family and friends that she could reach to, she realises that may not be the case for everyone and therefore, she is now like a “horse with blinkers on” as she plans to start a foundation, Live, Love, Laugh to help people deal with depression.
As one waits to hear more about Deepika’s efforts regarding her foundation, what she has done is something unparalled in India. We haven’t had any Indian celebrity at top of his/her game (or even otherwise) who has gone out and spoken at length about fighting depression or any other mental ailment, without caring about the consequence it will have on the professional front. In Hollywood, however, celebrities have spoken about facing depression time and again — Angelina Jolie (who reportedly slashed her wrists as a teen) , Anna Hathway, Jim Carrey, Brooke Shields (post the birth of her child) to name a few. By doing so, these celebrities have ensured that depression is regarded as a medical illness and not a social stigma and a tool for social ostracisation.
One only hopes that Deepika’s decision to reveal her story not only gives strengths to millions of common Indians battling it but also inspires other celebrities to come out and talk about it and use their position to make a difference.