Depression - The Monster in My Mind

Author: Sheetal Suryavanshi

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Sheetal Suryavanshi

My experience of battling with a monster in my mind! And being back to be stronger than ever!

The past one year has not been easy. It started off by me giving up my job last November (2016) for reasons unknown. It was a place I enjoyed going for work every day. I had found another job, but the day I was supposed to join those people never responded to my call. I laughed at this and told myself I am sure something good is in store for me. I decided to take a break for a month and explore opportunities in the social development sector the following month.

A month later, i.e in January this year, I took up an assignment with an NGO. The project was for a period of 45 days. I was super enthusiastic about the project. As I started working on the project I was disappointed the way the funds were misused/tweaked. I was shocked and demotivated to the core. I wanted to quit in between but as I had committed to them I continued and exited without taking my consulting fee.

This experience didn’t stop me from taking up another assignment. I started off in middle of February but three days of working there led to another disheartening experience. I decided that I would volunteer with NGOs instead of taking up paid assignments due to the recent displeasing experiences.

During this phase I had slipped into depression which I realised only much later. I was socially withdrawn, cut off from my besties and for no reason I use to feel very low. And it use to be the lowest feeling I had felt in my life. Initially I use to wonder, Why? What is wrong with me?

I thought maybe I have gained a few pounds hence I am feeling sluggish. I started working out in the gym but the feeling of emptiness had reached its core. I wanted to meet Ali (Founder of Banjara academy) in March but couldn’t go. I would want to message him but the next second something would stop me from doing it.

I got into hibernation and an overwhelming wave of emptiness had taken over me. I was not in a mood to think, feel or do anything. I use to pick up calls/meet people only whenever I felt like. And during the conversations I had to pinch myself to listen to them as I used to go blank. I was just functioning from the outside, but dead from inside. The worst experience was when a bunch of new students enrolled for our softball programme (summer camp). I never reacted. I use to be a person who was super enthusiastic when children enrolled, but this year had zero emotions. I did take them to buy gears but here again there was a feeling of emptiness.

After a couple of weeks, I decided that I had enough and wanted to work on this. I thought I will get my thyroid test done as sudden weight gain was bothering me a lot. Not that I had gained tons of kilos it was just three to four but these extra pounds did bother me. I met my family doctor (last week of April) and I told him I need to do a thyroid test as I have been gaining weight all of a sudden.

I was diagnosed for hypothyroidism, though it was only marginally high. My doctor looked at me and said no medication is needed. Instead he advised me to work on my depression and do vigorous exercise. And if need be, he advised to take a course of homeopathic medication. I felt nice when my doctor told me to work on my depression, as whenever I had mentioned about this state to people the response used to be ‘you are a sports person and a strong girl. And depression exists only in the west.’ My thoughts on this: sports people are humans too and do have emotions. Secondly, depression can happen to anybody irrespective of the continents they live in.

I messaged my reports to my bestie Kaddi (Lakshmi) and my first cousin Ashwin. I always message these two as they are no less than doctors. It is just that they don’t have a degree in medicine but are very knowledgeable about the subject. Both of them advised to go ahead with homeo medication. The first thing my cousin mentioned was work on your depression. I was like ‘not bad, another person agrees with my feeling of sadness.’

I was confused and not sure whether to start off on homeo as I wanted to avoid medication. I got it from the bestie when I told her. She responded by saying if you want to complicate things and slip into depression go ahead. I wanted to tell her I have already slipped into depression but didn’t as I knew she would get worried. I went ahead and met a homeopathy doctor and am on medication currently.

This phase of my life was indeed challenging. I was diagnosed for osteoporosis 12 years ago I had laughed about it and had told my doctor – ‘Yeah! I will be an iron woman. I will have steel/iron rods in my body instead of bones :-p.’ This humourous attitude was missing in me. The monster (depression) was eating me up from inside out.

I fought very, very, hard with the monster in my mind and didn’t allow it to stop me from texting Ali. As always, I received an immediate response and met him the next day.

I love it when Ali gives me time and listens to me. I shared my experience starting from November till May. He listened to me patiently and also looked at my reports. He gave me a test to do and told me that he will send me an email. I received an email from Ali, where he had set goals for me. I decided to work towards the same.

I had isolated myself and I knew nothing would go wrong if I cut off from people. I use to find it difficult to make or return phone calls, texts and emails. I use to makes excuses for not attending social functions/meeting friends. My friends respected this space of mine and kept away. I started working towards the goals set by Ali. I used be fine for two or three days but on the fourth day I used to slip back into the emptiness state.

During this phase I did attend one interview which was a horrifying experience. Guess, it was horrifying for me as I was vulnerable and couldn’t take nonsense. I called a friend (Ashish) and broke down. He listened to me and gave me a dose of positivity. I came back home and did some introspection. I realised that I am not in my real self which had caused an emotional turmoil. I decided not take up any assignment until I got rid of the monster in my head.

I used to dislike it when people use to ask me – ‘Oh!You are not earning? You don’t have a job?’ They used to look at me as if I have committed a crime. Well,people,will be people. So,I let it be. But none realised that I was fighting a terrible battle.

I use to go through a constant battle with the monster in my mind for months. They say depression is soul-stealing but I feel it is much more than this. I tried working really hard but the monster used to let me be myself once in a while but also drag me back into the emptiness state. I was aware that the only person who could truly help me was “Me”. I was clear that I had to rediscover myself.

I was talking to my good friend (Dileep V) and he told me to pack your bags and go to Paris :D. I laughed and told him: not a bad idea but can’t afford Paris now. That minute I realised that I had laughed whole heartedly. It was a genuine laugh, and I was not faking. I was experiencing this emotion after several months. I knew that travel is the weapon to kill the monster in my mind.

I have always enjoyed my solo trips and wanted to backpack and just go. Though the monster in my mind was creating a fear and stopping me from planning a solo trip. My ex-colleague and a good friend, Saurabh Somani, used to address me as “Terror” in office. I was reminded of this and was like, ”Oh!What I am doing to myself? I used to be a fearless and an adventures person. I didn’t want the monster to take control of my life and kill this spirit.” And I instantly planned a hiking trip to Kashmir.

Jaanat-E-Kashmir did the magic. I terrorised and destroyed the monster in my mind in Kashmir and rediscovered myself: D. I was back with fresh perspective and energies.

I met Ali as soon as I got back from my trip as I wanted him to know that I had conquered myself.

This phase in my life has taught me great lessons and has made me stronger than ever before. Friedrich Nietzsche has rightly said, What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”. I feel one should not feel sad/guilty while battling with mental health but be open, seek help and pull oneself out of depression. Let the universe know that it is okay to talk about mental health. And if talking about it brings faith and hope in people, Why not?

I would like to thank all my friends for respecting my isolation, giving me time and space to rediscover myself.

A heartfelt thanks to my friends – Kaushik, DV(Dileep V) and Ashish. Thanks a bunch for knowing exactly when to tell me what I want to hear, when I want to hear it the most.

Ali, Ali, Aliiiiii – What can I say? Words neither quantify nor qualify how helpful your guidance and support has been till date. I am blessed to have a mentor like you.

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