My tryst with anxiety and depression: An unending battle of daily life
By Pallab Das*
Somewhere I had read it, “Any idiot can face a crisis, it’s day to day living that wears you down.” (quoted). So, true, isn’t it?
A lot many who is reading this write-up must be thinking whatever I am saying or going to say will be a piece of pure nonsense and melodrama, for I couldn’t handle a crisis and I am cribbing by writing this piece. But hey, wait! When the bright days of life seems to appear dark and even the screams of your inner voice doesn’t echo with sweetness, and when everything doesn’t seem to be okay, the mind starts to play its own game. The game of imbalance of the so-called chemicals in your body. The game where the one who wins or the one who loses, the prize is often paid by ending one’s life. And therefore, this is an attempt to say that it’s okay that life is a bit harsh to you; that sometimes when you fall you need a lot of support to stand up; that sometimes it’s okay to be vulnerable and cry; and sometimes it’s just okay to accept that unlike others God chose you to be different than the rest.
So, let me share my story with you because somewhere, someone needs to get the encouragement that someone else like you is also suffering and I am just a call away to hear you out.
That fateful day was different. Like every other day, I did not wake up with vigour and zeal to go to work. When I woke up my head was heavy, as if someone had kept a 1000 kg stone on top of my head. My body was feeling tired and fatigued. It took me almost half an hour to wake up from the bed and reach the wash basin. As usual, I washed my face and the moment I saw myself in the mirror I started crying. Yes, believe me for no reason I just cried. I was startled at my own behaviour. I did not know what was happening. My stomach was hurting badly. It was a different sensation, a feeling of a butterfly hovering around inside my stomach. I didn’t feel like eating anything but was nauseated. Weak is the word that could describe that moment perfectly. Not knowing what to do, I decided to go to work and observe myself.
As days passed things became ugly, I was not able to do my day to day work, so much so that I had started developing a distaste for every small thing that used to give me pleasure. I was scared to share it with anyone. I just hurled myself up within me. But things became ugly when the feelings of anger, hatred, and lifelessness started haunting me daily. I had become so negative that I started harming myself. My mind was trapped in a box of images which spanned from my birth to death. As if everything came to an end. There was just no escape. There was no solution. There was no one who could even understand what I was going through. It was demonic. The only solution in front of me seemed to quit; to end my life. The pain was excruciating, it was horrendous. I had become severely suicidal.
Today when I am writing this I can describe the feeling because I have gone through this feeling almost 3 years now. Still, I feel I am falling short of words to fully describe what it felt like to be haunted by depression and anxiety, together. Medical science says, anxiety and depression are the two sides of the same coin but having it together is a nightmare. Any number of words can never describe the tormenting pain, the despair and the constant struggle to decide to live with the pain or to die. So many years have shown me the different facets of pain that I probably have forgotten what it feels like to have a wound or a simple bruise.
I must say, initial days of my medication were also harsh for my body to accept the anti-depressant but it was these medicines which helped me come back to stability. Remember, medicine is just to cure the symptoms but it can never cure the root problem. The only medicine for depression and anxiety is love and patient hearing of the victim. There have been moments when I was just about to end it all but then something just stopped it. May be my thoughts for my parents, my sister(s), my nephew or may be somewhere I thought that God is testing me and I need to pass this test. Whatever the reason, I was not ready to give up. With the assistance of the medicines and with a lot of willpower and faith, I stood up on my own again. It was difficult to face others, it was(is) difficult to love back life again. I must confess once you have decided to end life, to love life back on your own is itself courageous. It requires a lot of strength to face the smallest of things because it becomes a huge challenge. It is not easy, it can never come with the mere comfort of “just try to be happy” statements from people.
What is a simple task for others, is a gigantic task for the victim of depression. So, I took each day at a time. And when I tried to get up, I did fall again but I again tried to get up and stand and smile. Life has been harsh to me but I have been kind enough to life. And that has been the solution for me. I have been attacked by depression and anxiety episodes not just once but in a span of 3 years, I was beaten down thrice. But then, every time it hit me, I said myself, this is just a phase and it will be over. In these years, my eyes have seen more tears than sleep. From quitting one job to have successfully survived in a foreign land and completed my Master’s degree to have secured a job again, (someone had jokingly said, what a voyage! From a judge to a lawyer and finally to be a teacher), it has been a journey of intolerable pain, lessons of life and the constant fight to live a daily life with a smile, I have grown up from a boy to be a man. In this journey of lifelessness, emptiness and being lost, I must admit I still wear the mask of being alright. It is difficult to wear the mask everyday and more often when you have to meet so many people on a daily basis. It will not be wrong to say that I am surviving with the help of this mask of a smile on my face even when I want to cry, for the world does not have time to listen to the daily stories of pain. In this ever-increasing society of rat-race and competition, people are ready to give money but not time and love.
So, to those who have never known what depression or anxiety is, before you say anything to anyone, know what a person is going through. Every person has a story behind him, some choose to say while others are afraid to share. Be patient, be loving, be compassionate to them and to all. There can be no substitute for compassion. Love and compassion can cure the most painful disease known to mankind.
To those who have suffered or have been suffering, let me tell you what Birbal had written when Akbar had asked him to write something when he is happy and if he reads, he will become sad and when he is sad, and if he reads he will become happy…. “Yeh Waqt Guzar Jaye Ga” (This time shall pass). That there is hope and there are people who will understand you. That the power to heal is within you and it is you alone who can fight back and defeat the demons in your mind. That sometimes it is okay to fall in life and start afresh. That there is someone always listening to you and you are not suffering alone.
I have written this article so that anyone who is suffering and don’t know whom to say or open up, you can always contact me. Talking it out is itself a solution and lot many suicides can be prevented.
In the chaos called mind, the existence of self is a beauty that only Life can behold. –Pallab Das
*The writer is a faculty of law at National Law University (NLU), Odisha and is a trainee Kathak dancer. He enjoys creative writing, aspiring to be a writer, dance being his passion. He can be contacted at [email protected]