I want to tell you a little something about myself today. My name is Seema, but for the longest time, everyone around me knew me as the woman who hated chips. And the thing is… they were right. I hated chips.
It all started two years ago. I was your regular cosmopolitan girl - happily married in a loving household, working at a job that not only I enjoyed but that was also paying me well. I had friends and family who truly loved and cared for me. I had it all, and still, it all went wrong.
One fine day, I woke up to find my hands shaking uncontrollably. I was confused and couldn’t understand what was happening. I started to feel nervous almost all the time. Two weeks later, the crying began. I would cry myself to sleep and I would cry first thing in the morning. I felt hollow and hopeless and absolutely dejected. It was frustrating because I didn’t know why I was feeling what I was feeling.
Minor disagreements with my husband blew out of proportion into raging fights. I started to cry more and sleep less. I started to pay attention to tiny things that I was completely oblivious to before, and I caught myself obsessing over the most unimportant details. I quit my job and sat at home, and picked up a new hobby: cleaning. I would clean incessantly. Even the thought of the crumbs of chips on the floor or on the carpet bothered me. Slowly, but surely, chips were no longer allowed in my house!
For the first few months, I knew that something was wrong, but couldn’t put my finger to it. You see, I was able to function. I was able to do household chores and work on a freelance basis. So I thought I was making a big deal out of nothing. I remember questioning and criticising myself- telling myself constantly that I was being weak or silly. Looking back, I was probably in denial. So I did what most people with depression do - I didn’t tell anybody. I was afraid of what they would think. Would they call me crazy? Would they think I am making this up?
Almost a year later, when I realised that I wasn’t getting better, I knew I had to tell somebody. When I finally confided in my mother, she assumed that it was something physical and rushed me to a general physician who ordered a series of physical examinations for me. Not surprisingly, the exams did not reveal any anomaly or aberration, and I continued to suffer in silence. This went on for months, until one day I caught myself staring at the balcony of my 15th floor apartment, thinking that I could end it all by just one simple act: that of jumping off the balcony. That’s when I knew that I had to get help. I waited for a bad situation to get worse- really, really worse - in order to step up and reach out to someone.
At that point in time… I had nowhere to go! I didn’t know whom to talk to, ask, or see. I was clueless about what I should do next. After all, it’s not like people go around recommending psychiatrists the way they recommend orthodontists or gynecologists. After much searching, I saw a psychiatrist in my city. It was, admittedly, a leap of faith for me. Unfortunately, it was an utter disaster. He put me on medication and at one point even asked me to go out and party. I wondered how many people take that leap of faith, just like me, only to be disappointed.
It had been a year and a half since I first realised that I was depressed. I had spent a considerable chunk of money on therapy, and I wasn’t any better than I had been a year ago. I was dejected. I couldn’t grapple with the possibility that things might not get any better. Was I doomed to suffer for life? One day, I bumped into an old friend of mine. While catching up, he mentioned how a friend of his was suffering from depression and saw a psychotherapist and got better. Was this real? Was it possible for me to get better? I was skeptical, but I figured that I had nothing to lose. As a sort of a last resort, I pushed myself to go see an expert.
This time around, it worked. With legitimate evidence-based therapy, I could feel the difference in as little as 3 months. It’s been two years now and I am dramatically different from the person I was before, and more like the person I used to be before depression caught hold of me.
The journey has been painful, lonely, and sometimes even ruthless. Even today, I can’t look back and say that I am glad this happened, or other things that people say when they face hardships that have taught them important life lessons. All I will say is this. It was difficult and cumbersome, but I am glad I gave therapy a shot - actually, two shots. And you know what? Because I did, I survived depression. So my name is Seema, and I survived depression.