HYDERABAD:They say that our mind is the most powerful thing in the universe, and it’s not for nothing that it’s said. But this power is like fire which can warm up a human or engulf him/her in its flames given what you feed grows multiplying several times till it takes a gigantic form covering everything that can be rationalised. Tat’s why Radhika’s suicide note read: “My brain is my enemy.” The reason for her extreme step was depression as her marriage of 14 years collapsed six months ago.
The senior news presenter was known for hosting shows that focussed on empowered women and the stories that celebrated success. She herself was popular in the media fraternity and presented her story even on the night when she jumped up from the fifth floor of her apartment. What was it that made a thinking intelligent woman break down mentally? Was it just depression or lack of support to help her sail through the turbulent times? There are several Radhikas around us who must be thinking of killing themselves, but is there enough support system to help them deal with their mental state or are they battling it all alone? Are we becoming a society of silent-just-focussed-on-work-individuals who feel throttled in the gas chambers built within themselves?
“We are fast developing into a world of just individuals who rotate in their own galaxies cut off from others,” says Radhika Acharya, clinical psychologist who practises in Deccan Hospital and Maa Hospital. But why is that so? Is it because of the oft-ranted limitations of a nuclear family? Or is it social withdrawal or a combination of both? Explains Radhika, “Nobody has true friends these days or that one family member who they can confide in. No wonder people keep their angst/anxiety bottled up which after a longer period of time can be explosive leading to depression.” But in case of the deceased news anchor she had moved in to her father’s house and if there were problems in her marriage she did manage for more than a decade. And her suicide statement is disturbing coming from someone who was successful and intelligent herself.
Does it imply that those who are more intelligent than others are more vulnerable to sink into depression so much so that they can even kill themselves? “They tend to analyse and understand things better than others which is the reason why they have more emotional maturity. But even when they are more intelligent and can handle better than others, we also have to understand that they, too, have their ups and downs. That’s where they need support the most. It’s the prime requirement of our times,” she says.
It’s the support system lacking both in family and workplace which changes everything both for the sufferers and survivors. Shares Garima Lakshmanan (name changed on request), a 26-year-old media professional who battled mental conditions since her teenage years, “I had borderline personality disorder. I used to visualise things that didn’t exist which would result in me telling other people stories that were just creations of my mind.
Later I was accused of being a liar.” But during her college days one of the professors noticed the pattern and offered help. She confided in her and was taken for counselling. To top it all she was in an abusive relationship as well. It took more than three years for her to combat all that. Unfortunately, depression attacked her the last year which drained all her energy making her to take long leaves at work but again she braved it all, thanks to a supportive partner and family members. She shares, “My partner would come with me for the healing sessions and would always be there for me. Even my friends were really supportive all this while.”
She is still recuperating but feels she is in much better control of her mental health condition. Adds Radhika, “We need trained psychologists who can empower the person to battle it all rather than telling them shortcuts or frightening them that it’s dreadful. Also, it must be made mandatory that all schools, colleges and workplaces have expert counsellors.” She talks about a tribe in Africa which helps a depressed community member by surrounding him/her in a circle for 48 hours continuously praising the person and also telling him/her that they are there for support. She sighs, “If this happens in our countries we will be empowered to deal with emotional or mental trouble.”
— Saima Afreen