Noted Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone not only battled depression but also chose to open up about it. Today, she runs an organisation named The Live Love Laugh Foundation that foscussed on creating awareness about mental health. In an exclusive interview with Sampurna Majumder she opens up about battling and overcoming depression.
1 You battled depression at the peak of your career. Did it become a roadblock?
Yes, defnitely to a certain extent if not completely. Mental illness is same as any other physical aliment. Just as having a severe headache would hold you back from concentrating on your work, so does mental illness. Rather at times, it can be more taxing since it becomes difficult to focus and concentrate as the individual often feels directionless.
2 When in depression what should one do?
Well, I think the first step is to identify the symptoms of the disease and then act accordingly. Acceptance is of utmost importance. Then, opening up to close family members or talking to friends may be the initial process. However, seeking professional help from a psychologist or a psychiatrist is very essential as it not only helps you to understand the root cause but also help you deal with the same at a more professional level.
3 What kind of role family should play?
Role of the family members is very crucial. It is not only the person affected, but severe depression can often take a toll on immediate family. However, being panic stricken is not the solution. The family should be able to accept it first and then donne the cap of a caregiver. They must be extremely patient and compassionate in dealing with the individual. Allowing them to open up and hearing them with patience is very essential. The person battling mental illness should never be made to feel wrong. Family members must ensure that they give a very safe and secure environment.
4 In India, mental health is considered a taboo. How challenging and important it was to talk about it?
While I agree to the fact that there is a lot of stigma surrounding mental health in India, for me opening up was never a challenge. Rather, I took this as an opportunity to not only speak up about battling mental illness but also spread awareness regarding the same. I had a single-minded motive in terms of spreading awareness and also to let the world know that mental illness is curable, provided you follow the right path. Hopefully, our efforts can reduce the stigma.
5 What initiatives Live Love Laugh is taking to create awareness regarding mental health?
Mental illness, especially depression and anxiety has become too common in India and we are working towards not only creating awareness regarding the same, but also help it fight. Earlier we have launched campaigns like #DoBaraa Poochho where the idea was to encourage people to become more empathetic towards mental illness survivors. Our campaign titled #NotAshamed was all about breaking taboos and opening up about mental illness, where we featured real-life survivors.
Our next target happens to be both urban and rural India where we intend to educate people more on mental illness, especially teachers at educational institutions. We are looking at spreading as much awareness as possible so that we succeeded in diluting all kinds of stigma attached to the same.