Updated: Jun 27, 2021
Story by Khushboo Aneja
This is how it always starts. Whenever I tell someone that I have a depressive disorder, which is only a side effect of an illness that I will have to manage for the rest of my life, instead of acceptance I am questioned. I can’t have depression because I have supportive family and friends. I have access to food, water, shelter and a comfortable life. And for this reason, I am always expected to justify my emotions, my long periods of sadness and inactivity.
I remember feeling this way from as early as my childhood. For instance, I grew up thinking that my parents didn't love me. That they favoured my siblings. My diary entries are filled with me thinking of killing myself; middle child issues they call it.
For 17 years of my life I didn’t know who to be and what to do. I was always clueless so I copied my sister. I always kept trying to make friends but somehow, I always felt alone.
Before I knew it, it was time for me to join college. In first year of my college, I was the CR. I was volunteering for an NGO and learning German. All at once. I had so many dreams to fulfil and I couldn’t wait to get them all. Then since I got a good score I migrated to another college.
But since I joined in second year, things started to change again. Once again, I couldn’t make friends and became a recluse. I started keeping more and more to myself. I became invisible. Back then, I was living with my sister in a flat in Lajpat. So I was alone at the flat most of the time.
I was sick a lot and had to frequent hospitals quite often. I used to go to the doctor's appointment on my own because there was never anyone. And since I had always been a sick child, this wasn’t anything new or serious for my family. Nobody really noticed that I was struggling in college, with my health and I couldn't sleep either.
My life took a turn when I moved to Bangalore to study Journalism. It was very different from the protected environment I grew up in. In Bangalore, nobody knew me and how I was treated as a stupid girl back at home. I could create a new identity for myself.
It felt like I came to life. I didn't know the language but I went around exploring on the same evening I landed in the city. It was a complete turn-around for me. I became this outgoing person who covered stories on the streets, who could talk to anyone. I pretty much felt invincible. I was also interning with TOI. So, I was interviewing people, writing stories and going to new places every single day.
And when I moved back to Delhi, I had difficulty identifying myself. From being a star student journalist, I was again reduced to a nobody. I couldn’t speak even among family. I felt like I didn’t belong. I couldn't get an auto for myself. I sort of started losing who I was for a year in a matter of days.
That's the point where I think I can pinpoint everything started going down for me. That was when I fell from the edge I was hanging on to. But it still took me five years to accept that something is wrong with me. I was afraid of consulting a doctor, no matter the diagnosis.
What if it isn't depression? Then whatever people said would be proved true. And what if it is? Will I be labelled as a depressed girl? These questions haunted me for years.
I was tired of not being able to get out of bed, harming myself, starving myself, crying for hours at the end. I only found comfort in the thought of ending this life. I was obsessed with creating suicide scenarios so much so that I even attempted twice. I changed jobs, took sabbaticals, travelled but nothing helped. How could it?