It was a few days before spring and her boyfriend left her like the autumn leaves leave the tree.
Alone. Exposed. Worn out.
And now, the dry phase is about to begin.
It won’t take long before the assumptions will be made, the excuses related to that time of the month won’t last long, leave emails with the subject line “need to visit home for a marriage” or “not feeling well today” will start popping in.
The kohl in the eyes will get lighter every day and the makeup essentials will find their way out of Prachi’s room.
There’s already a subtle smell of the residue left after a 5-year-old relationship was burnt.
Neerja, her office BFF carries a box of chocolates to the office, they are known to be the mood enhancers and Prachi always resorts to them over coffee. It’s just a matter of a few days when she will ask Sheena to a ladies night and get drunk and probably meet a few guys. Or wait, no guys.
That will happen a few weeks later when she realises it’s high time to move on and to go to Anuj who has almost become a Tinder Guru for the entire office.
Everyone knows what’s wrong, still, no one has used the D word. They don’t want her self-esteem to be crushed like a used cola can. They feel it’s too early to tell her that she’s under depression.
Dr Nahid Dave, a practising psychiatrist in Mumbai classifies depression as a clinical issue which needs to be diagnosed and not assumed.
She identifies a few symptoms which if occur for around 3 weeks, need to be checked by a doctor.
1) People aren’t able to do their daily chores.
2) There is a deviation in their usual behaviour (a happy go lucky person might go angry over petty issues).
3) The depressive, escapist or in extreme cases, the suicidal thoughts haunt the person for a longer time.
Navneet, a fellow colleague and a supposed rival of Prachi might be hoping to see any of these traces in her. That would make their manager’s job easy and Navneet’s paycheque more lucrative when it comes to performance appraisal.
A month has passed. Neerja, Sheena and others still accompany Prachi for lunch knowing that she loves to eat alone. Sometimes, they even take some load off her so she can go home a little early where her roommate, Saniya is nervously prepared for the moment when she will hear an outburst or constant weeping or maybe some continuous insomniac movements.
A month later, Prachi gets a commendable hike in her salary, she works late as usual, goes out with Sheena for ladies nights, meets a guy, doesn’t exchange numbers with, has a laughter session with Anuj over his Tinder Matches, puts on extra kohl, spends some of her Sundays painting which she used to do regularly for the last half a decade.
She speaks a bit less, but nonetheless, she hasn’t cried in the last two months. She did once, besides the lake, just before Rajat’s birthday party where she danced like she always used to.
Three and a half months, and Neerja is heard speaking to her cousin on the phone who is not able to leave her hometown to pursue her Masters.
After an hour of counselling, she hangs up and tells Sheena, “Prachi has handled the depression quite well!”
Finally, the D word!
The statement “She was under depression.” The most casually thrown statement after “I’m a sapiosexual” and “You must follow your passion.”
Dr Dave strongly recommends not to use the word unless diagnosed by the psychiatrist. “It is like any other dysfunction, like a fracture caused by a disease, which needs proper medical treatment,” she says.
You can’t talk yourself out of depression nor anyone can forcefully categorise you as depressed just because you have experienced something unimaginable.
The question lies – was it unbearable, so unbearable that it leaves you awake at night and prohibits you from getting up to a workday, and so unbearable that you skip dinners, stop smiling and drift away from your usual self? If yes, then you might need a consultation.
Depression can be cured by medication and therapy, or both. Sometimes, (like this time) not discussing or digging the pain and not making the patient realise her illness helps act as the best cure for it. If and only if it is so deep-rooted that therapy and social help fail, one must resort to consultation.
Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion, said Buddha.
My two cents on this case study and depression at large:
Everyone says talk about depression
Speak out, let it flow…
What if we don’t speak about it?
Like it’s so minuscule that we don’t need to bother about it. It’s just like a small scratch which doesn’t need anything except an ointment. It’s like the more you speak about the disease, the bigger it becomes.
What I’m trying to say is, it’s a wound. That needs to be healed. That will heal, you might think probably but there’s no denying that probability swings between zero to one.
“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity,” said Hippocrates.
You know, I know, it happens, it so happens!
You don’t need to overthink and overreact. You don’t need to fall into the trap of whataboutery. You’re not the only one who’s gotten your heart broken or made losses in business.
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it,” said Helen Keller.
*The characters named in the story are fictional except the psychiatrist.
Hey, there? This article has been picked to be republished under the ‘Picks’ series. It is a step further for the content to be contagious to make it counted yet again and for the ones who missed it!
Crafted with brevity for select stories to make certain you see what others don't; sent every Friday
Two exclusive fortnightly newsletters, sent on Saturday alternately
a) Reel and Real with Rony Patra
b) Mixer with Ayush Garg