Somy Ali, who also runs a US-based NGO called No More Tears and tirelessly works for the victims of domestic violence and rape, says that her work, as well as sessions with her therapist, help her overcome depression on a daily basis. The actress says that happiness and difficulties go hand and hand in life, and must be looked at in the same way.
“Before I delve into the subject of mental health, it’s necessary for me to share what I have ascertained over the years about depression and sadness. Firstly, we have to understand and this comes with age, experience, research, and wisdom. For me, happiness comes in moments, just like sadness. No one is constantly happy in life because life is full of suffering and it throws a curve ball our way when we are least expecting it. And, no one can escape this whether you are wealthy, famous or a layperson. For me, it was a double whammy with nurture and nature intertwined and I finally understood the distinction between being situationally sad and depressed for no reason. It was quite a revelation and a huge relief. Unfortunately, I discovered that depression runs in our family so I inherited the chemical imbalance and the lack of serotonin, which is also known as a feel-good hormone and is the essential hormone for mood stabilization plus our emotional well-being. After going to several therapists to discuss my depression and methods of healing, I concluded that the only thing that made me feel good was to help others who are and were in awful situations. Thus, NMT was born and now in its 16th year, with over 40,000 victims rescued. I am so grateful to all our donors and supporters as without them none of this would be possible and I wouldn’t be living without a purpose,” she says.
She adds, “Coming back to my fight with depression, it’s still there and I fight it on a daily basis through the help of getting talk therapy with a professional therapist on a weekly basis and through my work with NMT as well as regular exercise. We always need to put an oxygen mask on ourselves before we can help others. If I am not feeling good, I am literally useless in terms of healing others who have been victims of heinous crimes. This is why I keep commending Deepika (Padukone, actress) to speak up about what she endured in terms of depression and actually was courageous enough to seek help. Given the stigma attached to even bringing up mental health even in 2023, Deepika is a real-life hero and I have immense respect for her and all that she has done when it comes to vocalising mental health.”
Talking about late actress Parveen Babi and her struggle with mental illness, Somy Ali says, “This reminds of the time I had just moved to India and went to a beauty salon to get my hair done. I was shocked to see Parveen Babi there and found her to be a bit off psychologically. I had no education or knowledge of mental disorders whereas now it was more than evident to me that Parveen suffered from paranoid schizophrenia which is quite obvious after attaining a degree in psychology and doing an internship in a mental institution which was a prerequisite for me to graduate.”
She adds, “Having worked with so many patients during my internship with several psychological disorders, I wish I had this knowledge and education when I met with Parveen Babi. Even if I had not succeeded in saving her life, I know I would have definitely intervened and tried my level best to get her some help. This still kills me to this day because back in 1991 no one really understood mental ailments or cared to acknowledge them including myself. However, I am glad that slowly but surely with time the stigma will be eradicated and we can discuss psychological pain as openly as we do physical ailments. I try my best to remain optimistic on this topic because this is the very core of every human being leading a stable life.”