Depression, a silent killer

The world observes 10th October as the mental wellness day worldwide. If you work for a large organization, the chances are that you had already come across pamphlets on the subject of mental well-being. Although it is quite common for the word depression to feature in everyday conversations, there is still a stigma associated with the term. In reality, this condition, if left untreated and unsupported, can lead to disastrous consequences. Look at the case of the successful American celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain. He committed suicide on June 8, 2018. Bourdain has featured in numerous conversation where his show "No Reservations" and he was envied. Who would have thought he would end his life like the way he did? Take the case of actor Robin Williams. I fell in love with stand-up comedy after seeing his taped performance in NY in the post 9/11 world. Who would have thought... There is always a question of cowardice and courage when we discuss this sensitive topic. I have always looked at the outcome. Loss. 

Recently, I was in a transformative learning program which was attended people from all age groups and also all walks of life. The three-day ritual presented with many ah-ha moments. But I don't want to discuss those moments with you. Instead, I want to tell you about the young woman who sat near to me. As soon as she learned that I was from Kerala, she started talking non-stop in Malayalam. Luckily, the years have given me enough wisdom to detect that she would soon turn into a satellite orbiting me. At that point, I intervened to tell her we would sit separately. I did show her the benefits. We get to meet more people and hear diverse experiences from them. During the breaks, we would go for food or tea together. She agreed to the suggestion quickly. During the breaks, I would wait patiently for us to the point. She was surprised at first but then came to realize that I was keeping my word. We found new sets of friends whenever we went for lunch and dinner. There were 250 people in the group we attended. So naturally, we will run into the familiar group of people everywhere.  During the breaks, we discussed the subjects talked during the previous session. While talking, the young woman had a slight difficulty to speak, and her voice was hoarse. I didn't give it much thought. One evening, while sipping tea, she blurted out she was a famous person who was a newsmaker.  Sensing my confusion, she explained she was featured in both TV and newspaper. Two months back, she tried to hang herself but didn't succeed. I was shocked, and I zoned out as she described the events. The ceiling broke, or the cloth tore. She fell on the ground. In the semi-consciousness, she dragged herself to the bed. Later, her friends found her.  She is on the path to recovery.

It didn't take long for the young woman to tell me why she did what she did. After ending the relationship with her boyfriend as it was not going anywhere, she couldn't handle the depression. Suicide was the only option she could think of. When I met her, she had lost interest in her work and had resigned. But her boss had pushed her to take this transformative learning program. Break-up is the staple food for comedy. In fact, many people are ridiculed on their choice of partners. On that day, I was in that program for transformation but ended up two profound realizations. Crossing the line is easier than we think. It only needs a trigger, and you will find a trigger at the most unlikely places. The second realization was my mental toughness. I could laugh at all the drama that unfolds on screens, but when life happened in front of me, I was dumbstruck.

Photo Courtesy: Parsstudio