Indian and Depressed

Indian and Depressed

I have lived with depression for over twenty years now, and I am 39. I have managed to create elaborate lies to take leave on the days I know I was feeling unwell and created an elaborate facade to maintain the air of normalcy a relentless middle class Indian neighborhood demands.

Being Indian and depressed is like being a famous movie star and being homosexual. You just don’t talk about it. Except people die of depression when they don’t talk about it or when they visit religious places instead of hospitals for a proper cure. Even yoga helps with depression more than religion does.

It took me a trip to the United States to find out that I had been given the wrong medication for half my life, and that I had manic depression and not clinical depression. When I came back to India my new psychologist first put me on mood stabilizers and then suggested a week in a Ashram. Among the things suggested in my week long stay at the Ashram were, telepathy exists because of the connection between our spine and top of our head (where Brahmins used to make their pony tail).

An earlier psychologist at a very famous hospital suggested I should just visit a hooker. That’s it. Get rid of depression by unsafe sex. There is no one I could complain to and there is no one to caution of such unethical doctors. In a nearest Government Hospital, my rarified middle class bourgeois sensibilities were offended by the huge crowds waiting in line. Still I had managed to spend 8 years being treated there before mustering up courage and money for the private psychologist. I then had gone off medication for a year before visiting the United States. So it took me a long long time to find out what was wrong even for a man above intelligence. I was a man who was once arrogant about being in the top twenty of the IIM entrance I had cleared. I am sharing this in the hope that you don’t wait twenty years to get yourself or your loved one the help they need for mental disease. It is just a disease. If we don’t shame people who are visually impaired, or hearing impaired then we should stop feeling ashamed of people whose cognition is impaired. Sometimes innovation and  creativity comes from such brains.

Depression may have caused me to change five jobs in five years after I finished my MBA. But I managed to write two books and stay with my own startup for the next ten. Why am I sharing this now? For too long the tax of being Indian demanded me to submit to honor and shameful silence. I delayed my treatment and lied about being depressed. I chose career and lifestyle options that worsened rather than improved my disability. I hope the next generation reaches out to find help in time.

Some Indian people who call depressed people as “PAGAL” or CRAZY. Indian and Depressed is better than Indian and Unhappy. Stop shaming people with depression

Author: Ajay Ohri

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