Devika Sisodia, 27-year-old, single, writer living in Udaipur for the last 3 years is labelled by her friends and acquaintances of living a ‘happening life’ as projected on the social media is, in fact, living a lie. The truth is that she is suffering from anxiety and depression for the last 11 months and she is fighting a battle silently that most people are not aware of. This is the reality and this is her story.
No, there wasn’t a specific tragic incident that triggered the turmoil; one thing led to another and before I realised depression had slowly crept in my room and in my head, sheltering behind the routine thoughts until one day it had taken all of me.
The most valued friendship turned sour and what I called love was comprehended as impractical and unreal, the work was not up to the mark and despite incessant trials I was failing in it, the family which I had grown old seeing together was growing apart, one member after another and I couldn’t do anything to stop it, the constant fights about living free and bounded by society and choosing the rights from the wrongs, being unavailable for friends and in all of this choosing to be happy; all seemed to have had collapsed on me. In human beings, there is an inbuilt mechanics that when the world seems to be intolerable, you hide in your shell and collect all the positivity to fight back and emerge with a winning streak. But when I shut myself from the world, the dark demons had already crept in and I became a victim, unable to gather the strength and the courage to fight back.
I wore a social mask and went out with friends and family but the happiness was short lived and I soon began to distance myself from them.
At the beginning, I struggled with the little things, telling myself that it’s a phase and just negative thoughts but in reality, I had gone deeper into the rabbit hole and got stuck in this state of mind. I wore a social mask and went out with friends and family but the happiness was short lived and I soon began to distance myself from them. The things that made me happy seemed worthless. I started to forget things, couldn’t comprehend the right from the wrong, became furious on menial fights, drowned myself in guilt after failing my people’s expectations and cried every night hoping for a ray of light. Due to anxiety, I developed the habit of scratching my leg, even in my sleep to an extent that it caused severe rashes and I had to force myself to stop that.
This entire battle became even more difficult for me as I couldn’t understand it myself and people around had no idea what is going on inside my head. Words like ‘You are not good enough,’ ‘You are a failure,’ ‘Stop living,’ ‘You are worthless,’ ‘What am I doing in my life,’ ‘I am wasting my time’ and others echoed every time. It is easy to figure out a physical injury because it is visible and you see it recovering as days pass by. Depression is internal where you are fighting alone with your own demons, bleeding and there’s no one who can see the scars, unaware of when they will heal.
I finally realised that there are two ways that can happen: either I ask for help or attempt suicide. I chose help.
Lack of understanding made me feel like a failure and instead I chose to shut myself and walk into my comfort zone because there nobody asked me questions and demanded explanations. But the lack of self-esteem and absence of a purpose became unbearable and I finally realised that there are two ways that can happen: either I ask for help or attempt suicide. I chose help.
My mother took me to a psychologist and psychotherapist and I found hope; hope in knowing that there was someone who actually understood my condition and this was not something that I had built up. It was not a continuous flow of sad emotions but a clinically approved illness that needed to be diagnosed. And so, I took sessions with her and upon diagnosis, she stated that my ‘self’ was destroyed completely and I had indulged in ‘cognitive distortions’, an unbalance of emotions that led me to such a state.
Under this, our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true; the inaccurate thoughts that reinforce negative thinking or emotions- telling ourselves things that sound accurate but only serve to keep feeling bad about ourselves. Also called ‘stinkin thinking,’ people do the following things: filter out all positive aspects of a situation and pick up single unpleasant detail to distort the reality, magnify failure, over-generalisation, jumping to conclusions, expecting the worst, personalisation in situations, seeing ourselves as victim of fate or holding ourselves responsible for the pain and happiness of everyone around us, blaming others and ourselves for every problem, feeling angry or frustrated when someone tells us how to behave with rules, our hope for happiness starts depending entirely on other people, being right becomes more important than the feelings of others and we expect our efforts and sacrifice to pay off and feel bitter if the reward doesn’t come. As much as this distorted my reality and ruined my relationships with family and friends, I took sessions of self-healing and I am still recovering each day.
What has hurt me the most during this phase is the unacceptability by people and false assumptions of how they perceive a depressed and anxious person to behave in a certain way around them.
There have been times where I have taken two steps forward and dragged back three by the darkness and multiple times where I had given up. But then, I see my old photos, read scripts that I had written before, watched me dance and be happy and I wished to get my old self back, only revised and better than before. What has hurt me the most during this phase is the unacceptability by people and false assumptions of how they perceive a depressed and anxious person to behave in a certain way around them.
They don’t let their life be defined by depression because for them, life is a gift and they know deep down that life becomes better.
It is not the people who are most sad are depressed but someone who you would hardly expect. They may be the people who you would love to be around because they are the ones who crack jokes, laugh at themselves yet cry every night. They may not talk it out loud; scream about their condition but someone silently trying to understand their self. They lay awake till 4 in the morning contemplating and over-thinking while on the other days sleep for hours. They may eat as if they had been fasting for over a week and on the other days, eat nothing at all. They have an ardent need to be around people and at the same time feel lonely with them. They want to make people happy but push them away and cancel plans at the last minute. They fight in corners because they don’t have answers to when people ask them, “Why are you depressed?” They gravitate to toxic habits because they know that their effects lead to numbness and that helps sometimes. They envy the life people are living happily and so glamorise their own so that it appears that way. They love people around them who have accepted their state of mind and loved them for opening up that it hurts if they mess up anything. They become overly observant of people around them because they know what it’s like to hide things. They don’t let their life be defined by depression because for them, life is a gift and they know deep down that life becomes better. They find the most strength when they see those who love them, understand them and tell them incessantly that this is not the end and there’s more to life; give them hope and help them when they are fighting with their own demons.
It is my heartfelt request to all of you who are going through depression and anxiety to please OPEN UP and ask for Help.
It will still take time for me to find myself back but I am happy to tell you that when I opened up, I found people who are going through the same agony as I am and found solace in thinking that we are not alone. Sad, that there are people around who are not understood by the sane minds but find comfort in being alone and keeping things to themselves. I wrote this because I had remained quiet for a while and it was tormenting. Not everybody is blessed to have people who would listen and most importantly, understand. It is my heartfelt request to all of you who are going through depression and anxiety to please OPEN UP and ask for Help. There are professionals who are sitting for people like you to give all the support and love and give you a new hope for the next chapter of your life. So, SPEAK UP!
Yes, it will take time, but the moment you have conquered your own demons and known yourself inside out, there’s nothing that can bring you down. Remember, you are not ALONE in this. We are all in this together.
P.S. Before I end this long monologue, I sincerely want to pay my gratitude to the people who have been an undying support to me in some way or the other: Harshit, for being the most patient person to hear me scream, cry and shout and helping me understand and making me happy. Ayushi, my 16-year-old sister for her unconditional love, even at the worst of times has given me hope. My Best friends Pallavi, whom I have hurt so many times but has never let go of my hand and has been a constant support and Neha, my best friend since school who gave me the best advice and helped me face reality. Irfan, who pacified me every time I kept losing myself. Ankita, for saving me from the worst and telling me that I’m not alone in this fight and Vajrasar, Kriti, Shashank, Abhijeet and Abhilash for being there, always.
Lastly, thank you to my aunt Shilpa Sisodia, sister Ritvika Sisodia and best brother Dhruv Sisodia for keeping patience with me and letting me vent out. My Parents Suresh and Manju Sisodia who couldn’t understand the illness at first but gave full support, love and letting me be me all this while. I am grateful to you.
Thank you Buddha. Thank you to my therapist who healed me with her good vibes during all the sessions.