There is this girl I know, I have known her for a long time. She is one of the most talented people I know. An infectious laughter, a charming personality and she talks in a manner that exudes confidence and a dazzling smile. Growing up, I looked up to her and wanted to be more like her.
She had the perfect life- a great job, an amazing family and a bunch of friends that doted on her. But she was fighting an inner battle everyday that no one had a clue of. She struggled to wake up every day, spent sleepless nights. Even made up reasons in her own head for her own worthlessness. She suffered from recurrent muscle aches, headaches and back problems. She also felt she was being targeted by all. Sometimes she thought of giving up on her life altogether. No one had a clue why this was happening to her. Few people she reached out to dismissed it off as another extreme reaction to heartbreak. Her loved ones tried to get her better but didn’t know how. Her frustration knew no bounds, and she gradually shunned them away and built a wall higher up that cut out these few people away as well. Her loved ones were clueless and couldn’t find any more ways to reach out to her. How do you reach out to someone who is blocking you out? But the struggle she faced was very much real.
This is the story of countless apparently “Normal” people. This is the story of the struggle with Depression. Depression is classified under Mood Disorders and is a serious mental illness. It is more than just “low mood” or “feeling sad or low”. It can happen to anyone and it is not always apparent. But just because it isn’t visible doesn’t mean it is not real. IT IS. Saying that “you will get over it”, “move on” is under-valuing the gravity of the situation. And calling your transient sadness as Depression is trivialising the Mental illness.

We often hear stories of people saying how they coped with their “Depression” and came out shining and rising like a phoenix within no time. Depression is not that easy to cope with and the glorification of Mental Illnesses needs to be stopped. It is a serious medical condition that requires Professional Help. Just like one visits the Orthopedic to fix Fractures, The Ophthalmologist to fix the eye, one must be as quick in visiting a Psychiatrist/ Mental Health Expert/Psychologist when dealing with a mental illness.
Does that mean that the friends and families can’t do anything to help these patients? Yes, they can help. By Providing a healthy mental environment. By listening and not judging. Next time someone comes to talk to you about their struggles- Listen with an open heart. Listen only to Understand and not necessarily to provide help. Do what you can to help, watch out for the signs of an illness and direct them towards Professional Help. Depressed people do not need your advice, they only need your empathy. Do it as patiently as you can. There may come a time when they shut you out and resist your empathy, and say harsh and bitter things. Do not take it as a personal attack on you but have an open mind and be out there to listen and help, whenever they do choose to open the doors for you. Understand that it is your job to help but not your area of expertise to treat them.
So this World Health Day, let us all take the pledge to LISTEN more. Listen to that person who is reaching out to you. They may have chosen you for a reason. There might have been others who may have turned a deaf ear to them, and they might just give up if you do the same.
Listen, because somebody wants to talk and they have never really been heard before.
Listen, because just that simple act may be a huge help to turn things around for them.
Listen, because the world today needs more listeners.
Listen, because it opens door for more talks.
Talk about it, because that is the only way to create more Awareness about the Illness. The more aware we are, the more open we become.
So Lets Talk, Because THAT WILL make a difference.
For all the Strugglers out there, We Are Listening!

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