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I knew you. I didn’t know you. Your story moved me.

I did not know you well yet you have moved me. I am in Mumbai busy preparing for the launch of our foundation and I receive a message that a distant cousins son has passed on. A flood of thoughts … How old is he? What happened ? My inner voice says he decided to go!!

The beauty of life lies in its fragility and the way it resonates through each and every one of us irrespective of caste, creed and social standing. Every one has a story and as the Iyanla Vanzant’s saying goes “Its important that we share our experiences with other people. Your story will heal you and heal somebody else. When you tell your story you free yourself and give others permission to acknowledge their own story.”

As the story of Deepak begins to unfold I feel both moved and sad at the same time. Nobody recognised that Deepak was depressed. How could he be? He was a high achiever, he had everything! Deepak did his best to “feel happy”.

He also tried to be happy. Each day he portrayed a happy outlook, not letting his true mental self be displayed to his family and friends. But the game of pretence, was starting to affect him deeply and deep cracks were forming.

As each day passed he was moving closer into the dark vortex until he finally plummeted never to come back. In the last few days he tried to reach out to friends, and one of them realized that he was going through something, but no one knew the extent of damage. He felt unworthy, he was useless, he was a failure, he was “nothing”. His self image was negative almost non-existent , and was in total contrast to the image “society” had of him.

To “society” he was a perfect son, a high achiever and a brilliant student. To everyone who knew him, he was a friend who was always available to anyone and everyone no matter what the need was he was there to help. The tragedy is he never let anyone know this time it was he who needed helping.

Life in the 21st century has becoming largely impersonal, we are in touch but not really in touch. Do we really know the inner struggles of our closest friends? Everyone seems happy but when the cracks form who is there to help and who is really there? Are we cracking under the game of pretence?

Above all this I feel disappointed as I belong to a community that is considered well informed and educated however I realize that in reality “My community is grossly uninformed”. I reflect on the ridicule, gossip, shame I have faced when I chose my profession as a counsellor in the field of mental health. I reacted by making a decision never to share my expertise, knowledge and skills my community. Today I am ashamed!

A young man took his life because his struggles were unrecognized. If only someone realized there was something behind the happy outlook? If only he felt comfortable enough to share his inner struggles?

We need to create a space for people to share their true feelings and emotions. We need to encourage the importance of mental health and all that it entails.

Today I feel compelled to take this decision, and do my part in educating society on the importance of mental health.

“Deepak I did not know you and yet you have moved me. I reverse my reactive decision and will return to my community to honor you by sharing information, teaching the uninformed the value of mental well being”

Let us not let his death go in vain and become another statistic. Let it be the start of a movement.

And Deepak, God bless you as you float in the clouds finally at peace.