Anurag Khanna (name changed) spoke to me in August 2017. He is a 27-year old from Madhya Pradesh. He works as a business analyst in Bangalore. This is his story of dealing with depression and suicide.
When I was five, I lost my father to a heart attack but my mother made sure that I and my elder sister didn’t want for anything. My childhood was pretty normal in most aspects. I had everything that a kid my age does. I was loved and had good social relations till I was in the 10th standard. But being an introvert, I did not quite fit in with people my age. I could not understand the idea behind sleazy innuendos and snide comments.
At the age of 11, my peaceful existence was punctured by a ghastly incident that left me permanently scarred. I was molested by a family friend, which I understood only later in life when I learned about sex and harassment. That guy knew he was wrong and luckily never showed up in my life again. Being bullied was also a persistent issue all through my school and college life.
Barring these incidents, growing up was more or less normal. Only I didn't quite see the point of social bonding under the shroud of, for the lack of better word, bitching. I had no role models as such but found solace in the movies of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Sai Paranjape, Basu Chatterjee etc. Movies have since been an integral part of my relaxation regimen.
Added to this, was the lifelong social pressure of ‘do something big for your mother’ for which engineering was shoved down my throat - by society and myself. Towards the final days when my exam (2nd attempt) was approaching and I felt under-prepared, I just thought that suicide was an easy way out, rather than putting myself through the six-hour ordeal of writing the exam.
At the age of 19, I tried to hang myself but was saved in the nick-of-time by one of my cousins. No thoughts really came to my mind back then, it was all just a blank. I think on some level, I wanted to be heard and convey my agony. Maybe this was part of the reason why I left my door unlocked while attempting suicide. My cousin took me outside and offered me the opportunity to join him in his business which helped me realize there were other ways to make a living. I am not saying competitive exams are bad but if that’s not your calling, please don’t harass yourself because of it. There are zillions of other opportunities to build your career.
I was depressed during my competitive exams’ preparation but no one in my family or even I really recognized it as something that needs medical attention. Only much later in life did I read about it and understood that this is a serious problem a lot of people deal with but don’t reach out for any help.
I had my second bout of depression in late 2016, but by this time I did my research and read extensively on it. I approached four psychologists and psychiatrists before I went on medication. I was depressed with my job and had no idea where I was heading. In June 2017 (three months into therapy and counselling), I started getting positive vibes, I had planned to quit my job (which I did in July), focused on my diet and health and I have never felt better.
Nick Vujiucic was an early inspiration when I first started looking up the motivational stuff on internet. Listening to life experiences of Steve Jobs, Anurag Kashyap -- especially that of Deepika Padukone -- were really helpful. Deepika Padukone’s interview on her depression was the key catalyst which gave me the strength to seek medical attention.
My mom, my cousin and a friend were an immensely strong support system. Some days were fine but on some days, I would not feel like leaving my bed and would call in sick at work. Previously, there were days when I would have only one meal a day, would try to avoid people, and isolate myself. Support from my loved ones kept me going. It still does.
In terms of the future, I want to get a job where I am able to enjoy my work more often and set aside time for myself to pursue my hobbies just to keep myself going. I am looking for companies which fulfill my criteria. One other thing I am looking for my new job is my alignment with the CEO’s ideologies because I believe that’s what permeates through the company.
On a different note, I want to help people talk about issues related to mental health, and listen and help them out whenever I can. I have started asking people to not skip their meals and prioritize health above everything, and have reached out to people when I thought they needed help.
I don’t feel suicidal anymore and I believe I am much more equipped to handle it now. And if I’m unable to, I know where to reach out for help. I have encountered pretty positive things that help me stay on course and not relapse.
Suicide is not the answer. Firstly, eradicate the concept of failure from your mind. You are better than you think, you just need to improve some things. Also, don’t make someone else’s priority your goals. Don’t overburden yourself with wanting to be “successful”, define your criteria and work towards that. Chill out, vent out every once in a while. It’s always about creating a happy life, which we all are capable of.
Here is a quote that I love “It’s a bad day, not a bad life”