Depression, survival and stigma: a personal reflection and a request

A painting of a woman facing a wall of masks with different expressions, her back is turned towards the viewer as she removes one mask.

What goes through your head when I say Pratyusha Banerjee? Do you think of words like suicide, murder, depression, and abuse?

What goes through your head when I say Pratyusha Banerjee? Do you think of words like suicide, murder, depression, and abuse?

I was discussing this case with a friend. When I told her that Banerjee was in an abusive relationship, my friend said, “She should’ve just left the relationship and kicked him out of her life.” It sounds like a simple solution, doesn’t it? But it’s not that easy to leave an abusive relationship. There are people living in abusive relationships who can’t leave, even if they want to. It’s flabbergasting, but it is important to remember that there are so many variables, so many things holding that person back.

I was in an abusive relationship and I couldn’t leave my ex on my own. Along with that, I was depressed and had suicidal tendencies because I felt as if I was worthless and empty inside. I didn’t want to live life and I tried to commit suicide twice. I needed help from my friends and parents. My depression and suicidal tendencies stayed for some time, but gradually I got better. I required help and a lot of support from my family, but I got through it. It’s unbelievably important to get help.

Depression is not unknown in India but it’s greatly misunderstood. Most people don’t know what depression is, how it happens, and how it’s diagnosed. Most people do not get the right treatment for depression, causing them to take extreme measures. I do not know if Pratyusha was depressed, but everything she’s gone through is enough to cause depression. Not only Pratyusha, but recently Deepika Padukone had also come out talking about her depression. As she mentioned in an interview with Barkha Dutt, depression is something you cannot see. There are no visible symptoms, so people think that depression is really in your mind. They think you can control your mind, but that’s not the case.

A World Health Organisation report suggests that India is the most depressed country in the world. Suicide is the largest cause of death in India, which accounts for 32% of the world’s suicides. There’s a stigma around depression and mental health that leads people to feel embarrassed to talk about it. Ultimately they lead their lives without the help they need, and may commit suicide.

Why is it so important to talk about mental health? Because proper treatment with medicines and support is needed to save our friends and family who feel smothered by pressure and other reasons.

According to a study by the government, 1 out of every 5 Indian is suffering from a mental disorder and/or depression. That places every family at severe risk of multiple issues such as chronic depression, suicidal tendencies, and work-related stress. It’s astounding to know that most suicides are from the age groups of 15-30 in India.

We need to equip our country with proper mental and emotional help that’s widely available. Healtheminds, a provider of various types of online psychiatry and counselling services which comes integrated with a secure and confidential video technology platform, is working towards changing the rigid mindset and cultural taboos associated with mental health, helping people to seek professional counselling.

This is a brilliant step forward towards providing help to the people who need it. If you are suffering from depression, get the help you need. Contact Healtheminds or talk to a psychiatrist, a doctor, or someone that you know will help you. There is a way to handle depression. You don’t need to feel empty inside nor do you need to take your life. Speak out about depression, it doesn’t need to be stigmatised at all.