In recent years, we have seen a shift in the way people view and talk about mental health. Conversations about depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses have moved from the private to the public sphere. And, Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone played a major role in bridging this gap and inspiring many in the process when she decided to open up about her own mental health struggles in January 2015. Deepika was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2014 while she was shooting for Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Happy New Year.
At the launch of her initiative ‘Care Package’ on Clubhouse on Tuesday, Deepika once again opened up about the myriad ways depression took a toll on her mental and physical health.
“I would just feel empty and directionless," said Deepika as she recalled going through the depression episode. “It just felt like life had no purpose. I couldn’t feel anything emotionally or physically. I started feeling like this for days and weeks until one day my mother was here. They were on their way back home and when they were packing their bags I was sitting in their room and I suddenly broke down. I think that’s when my mother realised for the first time that something was different. It wasn’t the usual boyfriend issue or stress at work. She kept asking me what it was but I couldn’t pinpoint one specific reason. She then encouraged me to seek help.
“That’s when I got professional help in the form of a therapist and a psychiatrist. I had a particular life before depression and I live a very different life after that. There’s not a day that goes by without me thinking about my mental health. I have to work every single day on myself to be able to get to a place where I don’t go back to that space again. Therefore, the focus is on the quality of my sleep, nutrition, hydration, exercise and mindfulness and it’s not because they are some fancy words but because I wouldn’t be able to survive if I didn’t do all of this."
Talking about what prompted her to share her story in the public, Deepika said, “When I went through that entire experience, I felt like we were being really hush-hush about everything. We didn’t want my name to go out. We were scared about which therapist to reach out to and who would keep this information confidential. At that point, I just went with the flow because I just needed help. But it was months after that when I was thinking about how this whole thing went about and I said, ‘Why were we trying to be quiet about it? Why can’t people know? Why shouldn’t people know that this is what I have been through?’ I think that also came from my journey of wanting to be as authentic and honest as possible and if this is the experience I had then the world needs to know that. I think me coming out and talking about my experience was to let people know that ‘You are not alone and we are in this together.'"