I live in Mumbai. I am a journalist and blogger. Few months back, Meera, my elder sister, came to visit me unannounced. She had just got divorced and she wanted to leave the regular surrounding and take a break. It was a little difficult for me as I had a routine which got upset; friends who used to visit regularly had suddenly got uncomfortable. I could not stay out late. On top of that my sister used to sulk throughout the day and cry throughout the night. I was about to make up some excuse and ask her to leave, when I saw the video “DOBARA PUCHO” by the Live Laugh Love Foundation. The Dark Reality of Depression Prepairing For The Worst, depression meaning in hindi, depression treatment test causes symptoms, depression icd 10 after delivery
That video changed my outlook towards my sister, I realized that she needs me and that is why she is here. I did not delay even for a moment and straight away that night I put my arms around her shoulders, let her head rest on my chest and asked her “Didi, what is going on in your mind all day?” I felt a warm drop on tear roll down my hand, dropping into her lap, but she stayed quiet. “Didi, please talk to me. I am here for you”, I could feel her body shaking as she sobbed into my arms, but she stayed quiet. I left so sad for her, I felt guilty for not asking these questions before, “Didi, Please talk to me, Talk to me Didi” I held her tighter and asked again. My eyes had opened up and now I was not going to give up till I help her out of this state of mind.
That moment I felt her body give a sharp jerk. She got up from the seat, pushing my hand away with a force I never knew that frail body ever possessed, she stood in front of me, bloodshot eyes glared at me, tears streamed down blood from a deep cut, hair was falling all over her face and runny nose made her words sticky “You want to help me? You with your perfect life and so many friends and this perfect body and a life full of freedom and happiness, YOU will help me? Really?” She kicked the chair hard, it toppled over, I moved right in time to escape getting hurt by the chair but could not ignore the sharp cut her words had left on my heart. Never knew she had such bitterness towards me. “Didi, please calm down. Yes I will help you. Just sit and talk to me calmly”. Next came a shrill laugh followed by loud piercing shouts “No one can help me, my life is curse and no one can change that, I am cursed to live. If you want to help me, leave me alone. Leave me alone so I kill myself in peace. You were the one who got all the love and attention of Maa-Baba, because of you my entire life became unhappy to start with.” “Didi that is not fair, you know that is not true. They loved us both, equally. I am where I am because of my ambitions, not by stamping on your shoulders”, she was accusing me of all wrong things in a string of blabber. In between the shouting and crying all she did was accuse me.
I love her, yes I do, but that was so unfair. I was just trying to help her but I think she just likes to be the damsel in distress. With this thought and as she grew more and more aggressive, I picked up my car keys and left from the house. The last thought being, ‘I should not have asked her only.’
Today, I sit in this waiting area of the hospital room, where Didi is recovering from a fatal suicide attempt. I should not have left her alone that night, but what else could have I done? I simply was not prepared for the outburst and accusations. I was trying to help but all I became was a trigger.
So now I have to tread cautiously, either I give up on her or prepare myself for what can come Dobara Puchnay Ke Baad. As I wait for Didi to recuperate and come back to live with me, I write this;
“Dobara Puchnay ke Baad”
A great video has finally showed all of us how to initiate help to those suffering from clinical depression. So next time, we all will ask again and again and again when we feel someone is going through depression. Correct?
Now that part is easy, but do you know what to expect after that? Do you know it’s a can of peanuts that you will be opening?
As kids we used to have this cylindrical tin box, which was made to look like a box of peanuts. We used open it thinking there are peanuts inside, instead a long snake like spring used to jump out, startling and scaring us. Later it used to be difficult to push that spring back in, it used to keep popping out as you tried to put the lid back on, but in vain.
That is what you should expect when you ask the victim, “What is wrong?” “Talk to me.”
Are you prepared for what will actually pounce at you from that can of peanuts?
Let me get a bit more specific, what if, when you ask for the sixth time and the person suddenly shouts out loud, tearing at his hair, slapping himself hard, kicking a stool that flies across the room, and shouts at you as if you are the reason for all their problems, are you prepared to handle that? If not then, please don’t ask ‘Dobara’ because you will end up becoming a trigger that their depressed mind was searching for. If you love that person a lot, you will end up feeling miserable for being the reason for their pain, and if you were asking out of humanity you will want to run off that scene asap. So, if you want to ask dobara, first get yourself ready to handle what may come next.
- Can you bear brutal anger directed straight towards you for no fault of your’s, without saying “Hello! Chill! I was just trying to help you!”
- Can you ignore the words being said but still not totally ignore them? Because, making your mind and ego strong and completely ignoring the anger and staying calm, will get you in trouble as well. That person will envy you terribly for being able to stay calm.
- Can you forget all the accusations completely the minute the anger attack, or crying attack subsides? I am sure you know that a depressed person can switch to normal mode drastically, and then feels extremely guilty after the episode in which he hurts others, verbally or physically. So can you just erase it from your mind immediately and keep no hard feelings at all?
- It is a high possibility that the person may completely disconnect from you after you ask him too many questions. Can you handle that?
- “I understand what you feel” could be the worst thing you can say to them, it could be even be the best. Are you ready to take your chances?
- Depression can get contagious. Ready to take the risk?
The questions you need to ask are endless. Being completely prepared is not even a possibility. If you truly love the person you might say yes to all of the above. But sometimes rather many a times love has failed this test. Are you ready to accept that there is no one single way to handle this multi dimensional illness? During war no one is spared, not women nor kids. Depression attacks in similar fashion. It does not spare anyone, neither motivational talks nor well meant words. It fires the gun without any discrimination or compassion.
This illness affects every dimension of the life of its victim. Relationships, finances, fitness, work, social, self esteem; it’s the most dangerous virus of all, spreads not just within but also all around the person. It puts him in a vicious cycle of self disappointments. It appears like an entangled ball of wool, messy, with no way to find that, one end that will untangle it all, black wool to be precise. After a point the good days become pointless because by the time they can even figure out where to start to undo the damage, the bad day is back. The victim is falling if you give him a hand its possible you shall fall along.
The words said above are not of a pessimist but in fact of a realistic mind. All of the above sounds depressing: Well that is the dark reality, if you jump into this well to save, please do remember, climbing back up is a slippery way. Not discouraging you from jumping but nudging you to keep a life jacket ready even if you are a great swimmer.
All said, there is something you can really do if you really want to help. Drag the person, figuratively or actually, to a Doctor. He will be prepared to ask Dobara, just a little better than you are. Just like you won’t treat cancer with just a hug, or being there for that person, or by mere kind words, or questioning what they are exactly feeling, at whatever stage the cancer might be; look at depression with the same urgency please.
Author Mehak Mirza Prabhu, is a 34 year old mother, storyteller, writer, entrepreneur, and lives in Mumbai. Passionate about creating and narrating stories in various languages. Consciously trying to bring people face to face with reality, not through statistics and reports, but through fiction laced reality based stories that all can relate to, and thus can feel others’ pain. Social reform enthusiast, blogger at Half Baked Beans, Storyteller at Storytel (Sweden), featured in The Logical Indian page and promotional head and writer on Scribbled Feel; is looking forward to more challenges that life can bring to her, to make her pen mightier.
Also read: The Dark Reality – Just another bad day