One day, two years back, while coming out of the bathroom after yet another painful indulgence, I wondered what was wrong with me. Because something definitely was. I googled some traits, from whatever I could understand. The symptoms indicated depression. Took me a year to come to terms with the fact that I was depressed. I also realized around the same time that I was Obsessive Compulsive. A lot of things cleared up that moment. बचपन से depressed होने का शौक़ रहा था, क्यूंकि कभी समझ नहीं आया की साला ये मर्ज़ है क्या! उपरवाले ने ये ख़्वाहिश भी तबीयत से पूरी कर दी. When I went to a psychiatrist, another one year later, over two months back, I was diagnosed with acute depression and anxiety, mild psychotic behaviour with vulnerability to panic disorders. Since then, I’ve been on antidepressants, anxiolytics, clonazepam and anti psychotics. नहीं घबराईये नहीं, this is necessary and pretty basic medication, I’ve been told.
I am product of the same society that thinks depression is the disease that lazy and unfortunate people use to cover their failures up. So I asked my doctor, why was I on medication and how will this cure depression. In layman terms, he said, it is literally a chemical लोचा in the brain. There are three necessary fluids in the brain (नाम google कर लेना बाद में यार!), whose receding or improper secretion causes such mental disorders. These medicines will regulate them fluids. Next question was obviously “what causes this? Why me?”. So, it’s very subjective what can cause this to people. Sensitive ones can also be affected by air pollution, in my case it was several experiences of trauma and the environment I grew up in. I am from a brahmin family in Uttar Pradesh, where people wear their prejudices and repression on their sleeves. We’ve been living in Surat for 16 years now, and it is no better. कहने को most developing city है, पर हर चौराहे पे गधों की भरमार है. ख़ैर, I had graduated with average grades and was at home at the time. One fine day, I told my father that I needed to see a ‘दिमाग का doctor’. He, as a final resort to fix his नालायक son, took me to one. The family became extra caring. Apparently, he instructed my mother “Bhaskar से ज़रा प्यार से बात करो”. So lot of ‘हाँ बेटा’, ‘जी बेटा’, ‘ये चाहिए बेटा?’ etc followed. When I was driving a car one day, father said “बेटा, तुम्हें कोई दिक्कत हो गाड़ी चलाने में तो मुझे बता देना ”. Kafka ने खुद को गोली मार ली होती . A day or two later, in a heated conversation my mother finally spit it out ‘तुम जैसे नाकारे लोग ही दवाईयाँ खाते हैं”.
So , to put it accurately, मुझे “पागल” समझा जा रहा था.
There are innumerable stigmas attached with mental illness, around us. When I first told friends, acquaintences that I was seeing a psychiatrist about depression, reactions varied from a shocked “क्या?” to “ये अचानक depressed कैसे हो गया तू?”. I was told by parents, ‘ किसी को बताना नहीं ’, ‘ये doctor की file कहीं पीछे रख दो आल्मारी में’. It, kind of, made me realize why I was seeing a doctor.
अगर आप सर्दी जुखाम के लिए doctor के पास जा सकते हैं, तो इसके लिए क्यों नहीं ? This is your brain catching cold. Our definitions of “पागल” are very troubling, putting it mildly. In Sunny paaji’s words, “पागल आदमी को दुनिया बनाती है”
But see, I just wanted to talk about it. It’s not something very personal to me, it’s just a disease. Which can be cured. If at any point of time you think you need to see a doctor, just go see them. Talk about it, your problems, wherever you are comfortable. Realization, in these cases, is a big step forward. हिम्मत तो फिर भी आ जाती है.
माँ, बाप, भाई, बहन….कहने दीजिये इन्हे जो कहना है. They’ll understand, or not. Either way, it’s fine.
एक फायदा ये हुआ, since going to a psychiatrist, I identify with mental patients better. Else I was quite ignorant. This has come because of reading up rigorously and having heart wrenching discussions about everything, from my sexual behaviour to traumatizing incidents, which I never talked about with people. अरे there were some I did not even remember.
(Also, I spot mental patients better. दो और मेरे घर में ही हैं .)
All you need is a little empathy and रत्ती भर दिमाग़.