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My depression and I say this to each other all the time, “ki tum na hotey toh aisa hota, waisa hota.” I tell it how productive, successful and loving towards everyone I would’ve been without it. It tells me everyone around me would’ve been like that if I wasn’t here. I tell it to shut up and it tells me to shut down. But I’m not going anywhere. I was 18 when I first had this thought of ending it all because I was lonely and miserable and everything seemed so hard but over the years what I realised was that I did not want to end my life, I just wanted to end the way it was then. I have no idea when, how or why this thing came into my life. Maybe I can pinpoint certain situations and events that made it worse but it was like a scary murderer just lurking in the corners all the time till it saw when I was at my most vulnerable and hit. I moved to a big city and got lost, failure, stress, sexual assault, court case trauma; there is a long list but I still cannot pinpoint where exactly it all went dark. Maybe I’ve just had a difficult life or bad luck. Maybe once life gets better it’ll go away. But it didn’t, it doesn’t. Never completely. Every time it goes, I know it will come back and every time it does, I have the guarantee that it will leave. But this is exactly how every single thing in life works isn’t it? The yin-yang of life is all around us! But for the longest time I was blind to it.

We were all just taught one thing and one thing only, good deeds plus hard work equal good life plus monetary success (and yes, that’s all you’ll ever need!). I am a problem solver. When I see a problem, I find out what caused it and I eliminate or fix it. With this problem, I couldn’t even find its nature, let alone its source. So, when I couldn’t even begin to figure it out nor had the time to because of college (must not fail again!), a legal case (must prove it happened!), family (must protect by lying about my pain and hiding it!) and so on, what got the last seat in priorities was my big hard-working brain and fragile, broken body. I never let myself realise that there was something wrong. I was living my life like driving on the highway at full speed, no breaks and in a half drunken state. This continued for one and a half years. During that time, I made one attempt to end my being and several others where I spent entire nights teetering on the edge of taking that final step. But I’m still here.

When I finally had time after graduation and regular court summons, my sister found me a therapist. She and I, being the most educated ones in the family, always knew I needed a therapist but never tried to make it a priority. Only after I had suffered so much did I have the “time to save my own life”. All I needed was to let it out. No one knew what I had really gone through. No one knows even today, except her. I never told anyone because people lack empathy and even the ones who saw me crumbling before their eyes turned away. Not a single friend came through. My therapist was trained to empathise and understand. When I used to talk to her, I used to, like I did with everyone else, underplay my suffering and undermine my own strength and bravery. She told me it was not as minor as I was portraying it to be. That I didn’t have to pretend in front of her anymore. She was, and still stays, the only person to have said that to me. I’m not going to tell you to spend more time with friends, exercise or listen to music because honestly, none of this will work all the time. There will come a day when all you’ll have is yourself and I will definitely tell you that you and I, we were always enough and the “fix” to this problem is only within our independent selves.

I still see my therapist once in a while because I do not wish to burden anyone else and that’s okay. To anyone reading this I want to tell you that you probably feel the same, like you’d be burdening people if you share your pain which might even be true. But I do not feel like I’m burdening a third impartial person, who sees me as a separate individual but is paid to empathise, understand and help me. They can be paid by you or an organisation or by the government, but that’s their job. So, I say go ahead and burden them, that’s what they’re for and they’re way better at lightening the burden together than your own peers who could take it personally. This is exactly how I convinced myself to go. But no, it didn’t “fix” me for good. It didn’t heal me completely.

For my masters’ thesis I chose to write about understanding suicide. The book Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus changed my entire perspective on depression and life. I talked to various survivors, some of them old enough to have great grandchildren. When the feeling of impending doom comes to you in high school or college, like it did for me, we think that we’ll get through it once and that’ll be it. And then a couple of weeks, or months, or years later it hits us again. And again, and again. It keeps happening, and it made me wonder, maybe this is all there is in life? Short-lived moments of peace but with a permanent axe hanging over our heads. I thought several times, I should just end it if this is what it's going to be like for the rest of my life. I went to therapy, I’m almost done with the legal case, I’m living a happy life, I’m travelling, WHAT AM I DOING WRONG? How many more times will I have to go through with it for it to stop? It doesn’t, it won’t.

It is a part of my life. I can only accept it but I don’t have to embrace it. We just need to know that our mental health needs continuous work for the entirety of our lives. The only thing that mental health can be compared to is your physical health because that is exactly what it is. You can’t eat one fruit one day and expect no disease to ever touch you again. You have to do it every day for all your life. You could even skip a little here and there but eventually you will have to. Same goes with any mental illness. Honestly, if someone had told me that this won’t go away unless I give it the attention it needed regularly, it would’ve minimised half the pain I went through.

Sisyphus was cursed to roll a huge rock to the top of the mountain every day. He was supposed to do this every single day for eternity. He would put in all the effort and roll his rock called mental health (in my imagination) to the top and it would fall back every night. What Camus imagines and so do I, that there’s this moment in between though, the point where Sisyphus is at the top and he’s looking at the view and reflecting on the hard work, he’s sweating and gasping for breath while his eyes are blinded by the beauty of the view and when they meet the sun surrounded by clouds, he gets this feeling of satisfaction. That satisfaction brings him a sense of happiness and peace. And for that feeling, he does it every day. This story resonates with our every single struggle, be it mental or physical or intellectual or anything at all. We will always need to work for them every day and that work itself shall bring you the days when you are standing on top of the mountain in magnificence and days of struggling to push your mental health back up. But at the end of it all, you must imagine Sisyphus happy and you must look at your life in whole from up there and know that you are happy too if you just accept the nature of your life’s beautiful duality. You may not remember what the sun feels like during long nights of winter rain, but that doesn’t mean you never will because the sun always shines again no matter what you feel.s

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