This New Year, we are celebrating everyone, especially women and young girls who have survived depression and overcome suicidal tendencies. There is a muse in all of us; we carry tales of miracles, fortitude and endurance. Here is a write-up about depression reminding us to keep waging the battle.

“Depression is very real. It is very much like a cyclone that consumes everything in its path.

Recently, there was a death that left me absolutely shell shocked. It was that of a young girl whom I was fairly acquainted with. She was in her early twenties and she committed suicide. She was vivacious, bright and beautiful with the most infectious smile. But those who knew her more intimately had a different tale to tell. Behind the facade of that exuberant smile was a very depressed individual. However what makes this young girl’s story unique is fact that she was very vocal about her suicidal tendencies as well as her battle with insomnia. She reached out to her friends desperately for help and they in turn did their best to shield her from herself and her insecurities. Her friends took her seriously but the elders around her did not (so I have heard). They thought it was her way of seeking attention and creating some drama. Despite all the efforts to protect her, she attempted suicide and died a few days later. I do not know her personal story or the reasons that compelled her to do the unthinkable. But I ever since I heard about the news of her death, I have felt that if some wise, compassionate soul had intervened at the right time; that precious life could perhaps have been saved. It could have been her parents, aunts, uncles, teachers, counselors or anyone with a positive, more authoritative outlook on life as compared to her young friends. Again, the details of her personal ordeal are unknown to me.

Being a writer I have always wanted to address the issue of depression, especially in youngsters. My knowledge about the ordeal of depression is limited to those stories I have read and the theories I have studied. But, I am determined to pen down my thoughts because it needs to be said. What if this is all the reassurance that someone needs to change his/her outlook on life? What if these lines are powerful enough to save a precious life? We need to talk more about depression, suicides and mental illnesses!

Those who are depressed or vulnerable to depression need to understand that people do not always necessarily respond the way you expect them to. Some might take it personally and may even get offended. So if you are someone under the impression that someone will come to your aid to cheer you up or make you happy, you are wrong. It is up to you to rewire your thoughts and way of thinking. You need to help yourself first. At the same time, a depressed person does require the right kind of intervention by the right of people. Most people, even if they are closely associated with someone depressed, are often reluctant to get involved or get their hands dirty. After pondering quite a bit about depression, I have decided to write about it and its various clingy manifestations including suicidal thoughts.

1) Depression and suicide are contagious: The strange thing about depression/suicide is that it negatively influences the people around the person who has already fallen prey to it. Death is always very shocking and more so when they are suicides. It makes people seriously contemplate about why that person must have committed suicide as well as prompts them to dwell upon their personal issues. In other words, such incidents put you upfront with the unsettling reality of everyday life. This is to say that negativity sprawls even more negativity. In the case of the young girl, her death caused her closest friends to fall into a whirlpool of gloom and depression. They are still struggling to deal with it. It has left them scarred for life. Her death also managed to cause a lot of distress to me as well, though I have barely known her. People often say that people who suicide are very selfish which might be true to a great extent. One might think that by committing suicide he/she is putting himself/herself out of some kind of misery or pain. They fail to realize or rather ignore the pain that is inflicted upon others. Parents, close family members, friends or just a random vulnerable someone might get deeply hurt. Their future and every moment that they are alive will become a living nightmare, haunted by the thought of having lost their loved one. A shadow of gloom will pervade every aspect of their lives. They will never be able to smile or enjoy moments whole-heartedly. Depression is therefore a vicious circle and leads to more depression. During my college days I have witnessed some students who have given into addiction being best friends with someone who committed suicide. One cannot completely disassociate oneself from his past and present as well as disconnect from the people who have sacrificed their time, money and efforts to love and raise him/her. By committing suicide, that individual almost instantaneously negates every aspect of affection and concern that has been poured out to him/her by the people who have come into his/her lives.

2) There will be better days: Nobody will be able to fathom the gravity of your personal issues. You might be in financial trouble, you might be disillusioned with life, you are being threatened, you have lost someone who means the world to you, you are in some big financial trouble, you have been jilted in love, you have committed some crime or something even worse. I don’t know your story and I have not lived your life but I can assure you that there will be better days, happier moments. The future that you envision might not be the future that really awaits you. Things will change. It might be difficult initially but later at some point of time you will encounter some meaningful moments in life which will make it all worthwhile. Tender moments like the birth of your child, seeing your siblings do well in their career, meeting a good friend etc., or something terrifically unexpected that might change the course of your entire life might happen. You never know. That is when you will realize that those frightening memories seem more distant than the farthest dreams. Coming back to the young girl’s case, I heard that she thought that the future held no prospects for her at all and that she lost all hope. Again, I don’t know her story but I do firmly believe that things could have gotten better only if she managed to sail through the tough tumultuous times.

3) Seek help from the right people, especially yourself: Don’t expect people to feel and understand what you are going through. People are often judgmental. This might apply even to your own parents. That is when you need to take a deep breath and make the decision to bounce back to your feet. Never lose hope in yourself and in humanity. The moment that you do so, you will become disenchanted with life. Seek assurance from people like a counselor or psychologist or someone you really trust who will lend a sympathetic ear as well as offer you unprejudiced advice. Remember, various manifestations of depression can be often equated with mental illnesses. However, there should be no shame in getting treatment. Forget what people say or might think, because people will forget sooner or later.

Give a hug-a warm embrace, a kind word or a simple smile. You will never know how your smallest gesture could help somebody going through a difficult time. This could be a good resolution for this New Year!”

P.S. This article speaks more for people who have situational depression as compared to people who suffer from pathological depressive disorders. The latter situation requires medical help and compassion from others around.

Read More: 7 Lessons from the Life of Nick Vujicic